Grab some tea so you can sip it while I spill it. Today we will be talking about toxic cosplay habits and cosplay burnout, from the mean girls of cosplay, to the memes of cosplay. This is my story.
Burn 1: Gatekeeping
The first cosplay burn is gatekeeping and elitism. Not going to lie, I used to be that person. I would make side comments like:
Wow, her wig is the wrong shade of blue.Shana, 2012
Why are his seams are unfinished…Shana, probably 2012 as well
For reference, my first cosplay wasn’t even good. Caitlyn (League of Legends) was actually not the first costume I started, but it was the first one I
finished gave up on and just wore it anyway. In fact, it’s still on the banner of my facebook page. Because I’m too lazy to change it, and also because Facebook is dead, unless you’re a boomer.
When I sewed, I made everything from scratch, with very limited sewing skills. I was so inspired by the big armour cosplays that I wanted to be perfect. But I was very far from perfect. I didn’t even make her gun. Well, actually, I tried, multiple times. But it was ugly and I tossed it.
I think the problem here was that I had an image of what I thought a character should look like. But in execution, it’s really awkward sometimes because some designs are just downright impossible. It was probably not until when I saw my cosplay idol Kamui Cosplay show how she broke down the design to make shoe armour that I realized I could actually have creative freedom. From there, I realized I should do it right, or not at all.
The second burn: being the first or the best.
But I wasn’t the best Caitlyn. I was a good Caitlyn, but I was not the best. And I wasn’t the first either, so I was a nobody. This era of cosplay trends haunted me, because if you weren’t the first of the best, you were just one of the many. And I didn’t want to be mediocre.
It become a horror to be expected to create new costumes from scratch every single convention. Rewearing a costume was seen as another faux-pas, even though technically you could. But if you wanted to maximize your social media, you would just jump on the bandwagon and do whatever was popular.
People would even comment hurtful things like “you’ve ruined my waifu” and “this other cosplayer is better”. These types of comments fueled me for awhile, but they were ultimately the reason why I almost quit cosplay in 2015. I had to consistently remind myself: Cosplay. Do it right or not at all.
On top of that, I saw articles like this. It gave me bad vibes, because I literally cosplayed D.Va and I was not accurate at allllll. And I even did it more than once.
Then came the era of Patreon and sexy cosplay. I never did Patreon (because it was a lot of work and because I have no assets), but I saw a people do it. Hobbists started looking towards going pro as a way to complete the cycle. Instead of purchasing a cosplay and just dumping your savings, they made income through re-selling their costumes, selling prints, and ultimately… selling lewds. It soon became a marketing game, if it wasn’t one already.
The resell economy was booming. Before facebook groups died, you could go to GTA Buy/Sell/Trade or Buy Sell Trade GTA and find second-hand costumes for $30-80. But now the market is saturated. Everyone and their mom has 10+ costumes each so I just literally give cosplay away in exchange for toilet paper. You want any? Let me know.
The third burn: I have no friends.
I hate people in general, but I hate cosplayers a little more. In general. Not anyone in particular. I started noticing people stepping on each other to get likes and follows. I noticed people wanted popularity. And once more, I had to remind myself that I didn’t care about the numbers game, I should just do it right or not at all.
Cosplayers, from my experience, are generally petty, broke (but somehow always have money for costumes), and either perpetually in school or involved in school drama. Being outcasts, nerds, and geeks, we are pretty much the the rejects of society. Between mental illnesses, cliques, and the fact that that I only went to a few conventions a year, I did not have many friends.
In fact, I actually lost my cosplay friend group twice. Once in high school, and once in university. But that’s a story I won’t get into because I’m over it.
So then I decided to change myself. Instead of continuing to make excuses for myself, I decided to try. I’m not saying that you should change yourself for society, but I am saying that perhaps if you are finding that people are leaving you, maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re the asshole.
And if you’re not sure, the internet is a great place to find out. Have strangers tear down all of your confidence by posting on r/AmITheAsshole.
Why do I have so few close friends? Am I just an unlikeable person with too many opinions? Maybe. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve come a long way.
Some changes I’ve made for myself:
- Be proactive in planning – set a time, place, and goal instead of a loose commitment
- Don’t take things perfectly, and be open to constructive criticism. Take feedback seriously, especially if someone goes out of their way to give it to you one-on-one
- Be mindful of my actions and how it is making other people feel – try to recognize and respond to subtle cues
- Tune down the online rants and don’t shit on people’s work – and if I must, I do it in private, and only when I am asked for my opinion. I try to never bring up shade on my own (because that’s called gossiping)
- Ask culture – bring up problems and issues before they are big. Try to solve them asap, and then fucking get over it
The last burn: trying to balance my big girl life and cosplay
Fast forward to today. Recently, I have had a fair bit of trouble balancing my big girl job and cosplay. A lot of people I know have aged well into adulthood and do not have much time for this silly little hobby, but here I am, starting a blog, where I can put my thoughts on full blast.
I think a part of me is very reluctant to give up something with so much relevance in my life. Yet, at the same time, I constantly question if it gives me the same kind of spark and joy it used to. Cosplay, once my literal reason to continue living, is no longer as important to me as it used to be. I now look forwards to rock climbing, to making delicious food, and to being a good source of support and encouragement to people I care about.
Which, btw, is not very many people, considering I recently unfriended one of my besties for having fundamentally different values on life. That, and, I was just fed up with overlooking their core trait of being a self-centered little fuck.
I want to focus on work and life and just, you know, do things that don’t involve being “not Shana”. I think, for the first time in my life, I am learning that I like being Shana. So when I was coming up with the name of my blog, I had to think about something that would transcend time, something that would still be relevant in 5 years. I don’t know if I will still be cosplaying, but I do know that whatever I end up doing, I will be pouring the same kind of heart and soul that I once put into cosplay.
So I decided, in the spirit of my word vomit and need for attention, I should just tell myself to shut up, and write it down.
But until I decide to give up cosplay for real, I will still be postin.
Aight, Imma shut up now.