This is an open letter to all the people out there who are unaware that the way you talk to cosplayers makes us extremely uncomfortable at best, and feel violated at worse.
We know you are trying to be nice and complimentary. We understand that you think it’s charming. However, being completely honest, your comments are the worst part about being a cosplayer.
This of course does not apply to everyone. Quite a lot of you understand boundaries and are very polite and friendly. Many of you know that we are geeks too and have polite conversations with us about our favourite anime and so on. But there are a lot of people out there who think we should be flattered when we are told “You look so hot in that costume, I bet you’re hotter out of it”.
It has even happened to me! After posting the Saints Row article, I got a comment from a male friend saying I would suit the Decker Specialist costume. Uh, thanks? I personally don’t like revealing costumes as I don’t feel confident in my body. It’s my choice as to who I cosplay. I don’t cosplay for anyone’s entertainment, I cosplay for myself. Thing is, this isn’t an isolated incident.
I posted a photo about Star Wars defending Captain Phasma’s armour, and a guy commented agreeing that the armour was a good choice. However, said guy had just shared a gif of a guy covering a fully covered girl with a photo of Princess Leia’s Gold Bikini. One guy messaged me asking for details about my cosplay with a not so subtle hint, which doesn’t sound too bad but I barely know him.
Cosplayer Jesstina Chibinski shared her story “In 2008 at Amecon, I was wearing a Perona from One Piece cosplay. A man in a Kakashi cosplay walked passed me and as he did so I heard a camera click. I turned to find that he had taken a photo up my skirt. I felt disgusted and uncomfortable for the rest of the weekend. I’ve spent years looking for that guy, but because he was dressed as Kakashi, he had a mask on and a wig. If I ever find him, I want to ask him why he felt the need to do such a thing. Then I’m gonna set fire to him.”
A female cosplayer told me “I’m personally not enjoying the cosplay community on Facebook as I have had a few guys I’ve never met talk to me a few times on messenger and then ask for a date. There has also been a group on Facebook before we all left it where body shaming happened to all the females, they went through profiles for pictures and start to pick faults in it.”
The only thing worse than being spoken to like this, is when someone decides to touch us without consent. No matter how you want to phrase it, it is molestation. I am glad to say it hasn’t happened to me, but it has happened to many female cosplayers. It has gotten so bad that it started the “Cosplay is not consent” movement.
An example of this here in the UK was about the Scot, William Rory Hazlie, who molested a 24 year old Poison Ivy cosplayer at a convention in London. He was found guilty and was banned from the city for a year.
Like I said, this doesn’t happen exclusively to women – a male cosplayer was touched on his backside without consent on live TV. A French journalist, Rémi Perrot, grabbed Robert Negrin’s bottom and said he was cute. Accoring to Perrot, it was scripted and Negrin had given him consent. However, Negrin said he never asked in the first place.
It’s common sense, treat people with respect. Cosplayers put a lot of time and effort into their costumes out of love of the character they cosplay, not so you can touch them!