Top Cosplay Pet Peeves
Cosplay is a fun and ever-growing hobby among the geek crowd. From when costuming meant getting your sexy on with a sleek Star Trek suit back in the 70s, to the newest Final Fantasy design today, the cosplay community is, or is supposed to be, friendly and supportive. But like any hobby, seeing and making enough costumes, and having enough experience at conventions can lead to a set of pet peeves, both in costuming and the reception of cosplay. Here are some of the complaints I most often hear, both the light-hearted and the serious.
1. Cosplayers who wear beautiful costumes... with sneakers. Though getting shoes is, of course, an extra expense, wearing tennis shoes can really ruin the image of an otherwise spot-on cosplay. If you can't afford or can't find the perfect shoes, try to think about what the character would wear. For example, if you are cosplaying a fantasy character, even generic brown boots can be leagues better than your beloved pair of basketball Nikes.
2. Not taking a few minutes to comb and spray a wig. You might have found a gorgeous wig that is the perfect shade of aqua blue, and the cut and style of it is perfect for your character. But no matter how beautiful your costume is, if your wig is messy and uncombed, you go from pristine to raggedy. Wigs are hard to care for, but do your best to keep it stored neatly and spray it before you wear it to help it keep its shape.
3. Beautiful costumes... that aren't ironed. This is another way to tarnish the result of your hard work. Wrinkles and creases can make your costume look cheap and awkward. Slapping an iron on it can make a world of difference in the pictures!
4. Guys who refuse to wear a little makeup for otherwise very high-level and professional costumes. Sure, we don't expect everyone to wear makeup if they are just casually cosplaying and having fun. Especially for men. But if you're really aiming for that costume contest award, or poured a ton of effort into everything else, why not pop on a little powder? It won't make you any less of a man, I promise, and men can get greasy, spotty and shiny, too. A little bit of natural makeup can do so much - and reduce the need for Photoshop to cover up those pimples.
5. Using too much Photoshop. It is one thing to shop out that aforementioned pimple, or brush up a few renegade wig hairs. Professional quality photos, cosplay and non-cosplay alike, will do a few small tweaks here and there, as well as brighten colors and add contrasts. Of course, many cosplay photos use cool effects to integrate into the fictional world - be it magic, cool demonic eyes, or that misty-ghostlike aura. But be wary with "cosmetic surgery." Things like making yourself significantly thinner, enlarging your eyes overmuch, changing your lips completely - these are tools the modeling industry uses on a regular basis and not only feel dishonest, but promote a bad culture of "real people aren't good enough." Plus, no one will be able to recognize you at conventions if you don't resemble the photo at all!
6. Getting defensive and jealous over other people cosplaying the same character. I've heard it far too many times. Look, another (insert character here)! Oh, but her costume sucks. Oh, what an unfortunate face. Yeah, she's okay, but screw her. No, I definitely don't want to take a picture with her! This kind of drama is eye-rolling at best. If you see someone else cosplaying your character, why not be happy to meet another fan? Maybe you've found a new friend, after all, you clearly have a similar interest or two!
7. Weight-shaming yourself or others. In any field of interest in the West, weight has become a sensitive issue. Overweight people are shamed and made to feel ugly. Even skinny women can be shamed and accused of eating disorders. Whatever you do, don't be part of the problem. People here just want to have a good time, and when you are self-conscious about your body, cosplaying can be really scary. Be supportive of everyone. It can also be a pain to hang out with someone who is constantly complaining about their own weight at a convention and comparing their bodies to the other cosplayers. Do your best to contribute to a positive atmosphere not only for the cosplayers, but for the convention itself.
8. Inappropriate photographers. It's an honor to be asked for a photo. Cosplay is our work and hobby, and someone taking a picture is the best kind of compliment. But just because we are cosplaying doesn't mean you can take any sort of picture you want. Close ups of breasts and attempts at panty shots are sexual harassment. So is bullying cosplayers to get into poses that you want when they are clearly uncomfortable with them. Just because a cosplayer is dressed as your favorite character doesn't mean they are your friend. If that cosplayer is wearing a sexy and revealing outfit, they are still not a sex object. Treat them with respect as you would any stranger, or prepared to get your butt kicked right out of the convention - or perhaps a nice chat with the local police officer.
9. Inappropriate touching in photos. Most cosplayers are happy to oblige requests to pose together for photos. But, as a new movement in American conventions against unwanted touching proclaims, "Cosplay is NOT consent." Posing with a cosplayer is not permission to wrap arms around waists that conveniently touch butts or otherwise grope. It might be normal to drape a friendly arm around someone, but ask for permission or watch for cues. Usually a cosplayer will nonverbally indicate how close they are okay with you getting. If they seem to shift away from you, don't touch them. If they initiate getting close to you, a friendly arm around shoulders or possibly waist might be fine. But in addition to the threat of harassment, many costumes are delicate and fragile, so a cosplayer might not want to be touched for that reason, too. And though we usually hear harassment stories from ladies, women are absolutely not excluded from this rule. Follow the exact same protocol with a male cosplayer, too!
10. Giving unwanted critiques of someone's costume. It is incredibly rude to go up to a cosplayer and proclaim to them alleged inaccuracies, or to criticize the costume itself. No one wants your feedback. And more than that, cosplayers are often well aware of inaccuracies or shoddy craftmanship - after all, if they made the costume themselves, they've probably spent a lot of time studying reference pictures. It isn't your place to judge their time or ability.
11. Assuming cosplay girls aren't "real" geeks and are just there for attention. Despite the fact that the number of female geeks probably rivals the number of male geeks, female geeks get it rough. Being accused of being "fake" or, the even more awesomely sexist "slut" is offensive beyond belief. A girl wearing a revealing costume doesn't give you any right to make assumptions about her. And she isn't wearing the costume for you! Cosplay is too time and money consuming of a hobby to be fake about it. Not to mention, it isn't exactly cool, either. Assume nothing but she is a geek who is doing what she loves, and leave it at that.
12.Taking pictures of cosplayers without their permission, or when they are clearly busy. Get into the habit of always asking permission before snapping a photo. To not do so just makes you look like a massive creeper. On a similar note, try to be socially conscious and don't ask for photos while a cosplayer has their face stuffed with pocky or other snacks, or when the cosplayer is obviously in a rush.
13. People who take their cosplay too seriously. Cosplay, the exquisite art of dressing up as a fictional character and showing your stuff at a geek convention, is serious business. Wait, back up - it isn't serious at all! Cosplay is surely one hobby that is meant to be light-hearted, and a combination of utilizing creative skills to put together a costume, learning how to stand, model and photograph, and paying tribute to characters we love. That being said, it is certainly no crime to be a serious cosplayer who takes his or her time putting together beautiful costumes, but when a cosplayer forgets to have fun, too, it can be a real headache.