Cosplay Realities That You Have to Accept

UPDATE (14 Jan 2013): Added Reality #4 and #5

It’s my third year in the cosplay hobby and I’m ready to finally take a break from the world of cosplay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quitting. I don’t hope people will actually care I’m taking a break because I’m not that famous a person in the Indonesian cosplay world. I don’t know many people, which helps because you don’t have to get involved into every little thing. For those who care, I’m taking a break because I’m getting older and it’s high time I got my bachelor’s degree. To do that, I’ll have to undergo an internship period, which will really take my precious free time away from me.

Anyway, this is perhaps my last post on cosplay before I fade into the shadows. And I thought, hey, I’ll go out with a bang! So, what to expect from this post? I will explain the realities of the cosplay world in harsh, right-in-your-face words. Some cosplayers know these realities, but sugar-coat them with sweet words. I’m not that type of guy.

If you think that I’m just another person whose ass is on fire (you read that as “butthurt” if you’re Indonesian), I am not. I’m just another guy with an opinion and since this is the Internet, you don’t have to hear my opinion. But for those who want to, please carry on.

You’re welcome to discuss in the comments section, but please do so in a civilized manner. I’m really tired of filtering my comments and I like my blog devoid of spam. On we go!

Reality #1: If you’re not pretty, you suck.

Remember the so-called “popular girls” clique in high school? The ones that trash the not-so-good-looking students in school? Yeah, cosplay’s a lot like that. Let me re-state it once more, this time in bold and italics: If you’re not pretty, you suck. Get the message? Good.

In cosplay, your face is what the people look at first. You can’t deny it. Unless you’re wearing armor or a costume that covers up your entire face, your face will the first thing people look at. It’s good if you have an Asian (not to be racist, but here I refer to the “Sino-sphere” Asians) complexion: white skin, slightly narrow eyes, etc. In fact, an Asian complexion is just perfect for cosplay. This is true when you are cosplaying as a character from Japan. A Caucasian (Americans, Europeans, basically “whites”) build is perfect for cosplaying as American comic book/game/animation characters, and so on.

But, if you have dark skin, large eyes or have too much weight — to be blunt, you’re ugly and fat — you need to do A LOT OF EXTRA WORK. And people sometimes just don’t appreciate your extra work. So, you’ve mastered the arts of makeup but you still can’t hide your dark skin? You just ruined a character. So you’ve tried going to the gym to lose that flab but you just can’t seem to lose it? Congrats, you just became the laughing stock of the Internet.

Take a look around the Internet. The famous cosplayers, just to name a few – Alodia, Reika, Kaname, Angie, and Denka – what do they have in common? They all have that perfect face, made even more perfect with the help of makeup, for cosplaying. And that’s what people look at. Have you ever heard someone comment “Ooh look, that guy, even though he’s ugly as fuck, he can play the character of Eren Jaeger perfectly?” I doubt so. The most I’ve ever heard is “Look, she’s soo fucking cute! She’s perfect as Inori!” even though the Inori in front of their eyes is posing like a slut (totally out of character).

So, you need to know that cosplay can sometimes be very superficial. It is not about actually being one with your character; it’s about how to look good in said character in front of people. And when you’re not pretty and you insist on cosplaying as a character, you will surely be bashed, flamed, and become a social pariah. For the last example in proving this point, have a look at the below photo. Focus on the Asuna.

What do you think happened to her? Did she get praise because she worked her ass off making the costume (which was pretty well done)? Or did people make snide comments about how she was not fit to cosplay as Asuna just because of her physique? You tell me.

I am not going to lie. I too, most of the time, look only at other people’s faces when they cosplay. I too, admit, that I would rather see cute faces cosplaying the female characters I like than ugly ones. But, I keep my remarks to myself and comment on the better aspects of the person, such as their costumes. I would praise them if they spent hours and lots of money on creating a costume. But that’s just me.

Reality #2: Your opinion will never matter unless you’re somebody.

The cosplay world is rife with heated arguments concerning whether a particular term should be used for something. Since there’s no such thing as a degree in Cosplay-ology, there is no standardized definition on what cosplay really is or how something should be done. Should “original cosplay” be allowed in competitions? What should be judged in a cosplay competition? What makes original characters “original”? That sort of crap. Since there is no one true way, people believe in what they choose to believe. It’s all hunky-dory when it’s kept to themselves. But it gets a lot more interesting when people start voicing out their opinions in public.

I am no stranger to Facebook arguments on definitions and issues. The thing is, people tend to disregard whatever you say unless you have a degree in Cosplay-ology from the International Cosplay Academy or you’re famous and renowned. Countless people speak out good points, only to be shot down (with very rude comments most of the time) from others just because they’re not “authorized” enough. Once the elites speak, everyone follows them like sheep, even though it’s no different than what other say. Which is why I choose not to participate in discussions; I choose to watch because they get funny real quick.

So, the point is, you should learn to hold your tongue (or fingers) before trying to share an opinion on a cosplay issue. Perhaps you should consider enrolling in the International Cosplay Academy and get a PhD in Cosplay-ology before your opinion is heard. Or you could do a fans service photo shoot and let it go viral, increasing your level as a cosplayer. Once you go international, cosplayers will bend over backwards just to hear from you.

Reality #3: People are perfectionists

When you cosplay, you are driven with passion to make yourself resemble the character you love. You want that wig styled just right. You want those little accessories on your costume to be perfect. And you make sure that your weapon (if any) is just like the thing you see on screen. But, things happen when 2D meets 3D. And people don’t care: they want to see 2D in the 3D world.

2D characters are, in a sense, perfect. Look at Cloud’s hair, not faltered by the mightiest of sword blows. He has what I call “Square Enix gel”, making his hair impervious to attacks and making it look cool to boot. What happens when someone tries to cosplay as Cloud without proper wig styling skills? People will unleash hell on him because he can’t maintain the perfect Cloud hairstyle. Now on to the lower parts (not “those”). The ideal anime character has a healthy body build, not too buff, not too skinny. Unless we’re talking American superheroes. If you want to cosplay as Cloud, you should have a rather buff build. That’s because he’s a warrior carrying a big-ass sword. But what if you’re just a teensy bit fat? Uh-oh, you should hit the gym and lose those pounds! No wonder people are so discouraged when it comes to cosplay: people put too high standards!

Or take any female character. They are depicted as angels of cuteness because of the “moe” storm. It’s a blessing a living human female has the cuteness and beauty of these 2D angels. But, we’re not all that lucky and we really like the character. So, we try as hard as we can to resemble the character. We have little control over our physique. Sometimes, you’re just a bit fat. And then you try cosplaying. And then you get hell rained down on you just because you cannot fulfill the expectations of the fans.

This is something you need to get used to when you get into cosplay. YOU know that it’s impossible to perfectly resemble an anime character. OTHER PEOPLE don’t know that. You’ll have a really hard time, especially if you’re ugly. You’ll need the patience of a saint to endure the hate comments on your Facebook and a will of steel to continue cosplaying.

Yeah, read that.

Reality #4: Cosplay is not for everyone

It’s just like how some study programs are for a select few and how some hobbies are attractive to a certain group of people. Cosplay is the same: you think it’s for everyone, but it’s actually not. This is why cosplay works for some and not for others.

I’m talking about knowing yourself. You know and you clearly realize that you are fat, dark-skinned, and ugly yet you still wish to cosplay as a glorious hunk like Squall (FF8) or a sexy angel like Stocking (PSG). Then, you get into costume. the you make an appearance at cons. When you get there, you feel broken because people speak in hushed voices. You walk past them, catching one sentence, “She looks so terrible in that!” Then you get all worked up, defending yourself, saying that you have every right to cosplay as your favorite character. Once you get home, you sulk in the corner of the room, ignoring the countless pings coming out of your laptop. The hate comments, telling you to go fuck a cactus for ruining a character.

You have two ways out, assuming you don’t want to alter your physique by means of plastic surgery.

You could embrace reality. Recognize your own limitations. You are clearly not suited for cosplay. You should find another hobby where you’ll be appreciated and enjoy a genuinely good time, perhaps sewing or online gaming.

Or you could continue, being the blockhead you are. You continue donning that Stocking costume and appearing at cons. You keep getting negative comments. But you decide you shrug them off, saying that “haters gonna hate”. You continue this vicious routine.

See my point? Unless you cosplaying terribly on purpose (perhaps you lost a bet, are a genuine troll, or just plain ignorant), you’re not doing yourself and the anime character you love justice. You need to realize your own limits and find something that matches you. If you’re pretty as fuck, you will look good cosplaying as almost any anime character. If you’re big, buff, and have a manly beard, you could try cosplaying as someone from Team Fortress 2 or Skyrim. If you’re small, petite and have average looks, you could try an anime character that is also petite. If you’re a fat or quite beefy girl, you could try Tamako from Silver Spoon or Sakura from Danganronpa. The point is: know yourself and find an anime character that suits you. If you can’t, you’re only doing yourself and other people more harm than good.

Or if all else fails, nobody can make fun of you when they can’t see your face. Choose a costume that covers your entire body.

Reality #5: Cosplay is expensive

Now, on to other matters. I’ve seen people complain because cosplay is expensive. Well, humans are the only living creatures who pay to live on this planet, so suck it. Cosplay is not a cheap hobby and it will never be. Props and costumes take a lot of effort and raw materials to create. Time is spent as well. Even though you create your own costumes, you still spend money and time. Since you’ve chosen this hobby, I think a major financial setback won’t creep the hell out of you? Weren’t you ready to cosplay as your beloved character by any means necessary?

It’s not just costumes. When you’re due for a competition, you’ll need to cough up some extra dough for making stage props. You’ll need tools to repair your costumes on the go. You’ll need money for transporting your buttload of props to the venue.

What about making you pretty? You will spend money on makeup. If you want to look pretty, you’ll buy the best, which clearly doesn’t come cheap. You will also need to learn how to do makeup, unless you have someone for that. Since your hair is unlikely to be pink, you’re gonna be spending money on wigs.

And what is the meaning of your costume if you don’t show it? Going to conventions costs money: tickets, food, and loot hunting (if you’re like me). Perhaps you’re not a fan of cons and enjoy private photoshoots? To compete with Reika’s photos on WorldCosplay, you’d need a team of pros and last time I checked, professional cameramen and photo equipment don’t come cheap.

But since you love this hobby, you clearly don’t have qualms about spending money on it, am I correct? Or did I creep you out and you’re now clinging on to that dollar bill? If cosplay is indeed your hobby, you shouldn’t be complaining about how expensive it is. If you feel it’s expensive, go find another hobby. Or get creative and cut the costs by any means you prefer.

So there you have it, the realities that you have to accept when in the cosplay world. You cannot turn a blind eye to these realities. They are real. No matter how hard you try to sugar-coat it, they shall remain real. You cannot deny it. Cosplaying is hard shit, hang in there!


177 thoughts on “Cosplay Realities That You Have to Accept

  1. Motherfucker what the HELL is your problem. It’s people like you that discourage new folks from cosplaying. This is COSPLAY. NOT a modeling agency. The ONLY reality you have to face when it comes to cosplay is that as long as YOU are having fun, you’re cosplaying correctly. This is already a niche as hell community why the fuck are you dividing it even more with this elitist bullshit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sadly, I have to disagree with you. I’ve tried cosplaying a few times. It’s “supposed” to be about having fun, and initially, it feels fun. But then you have so many people hating on you and making fun of you, then it’s not. I’m an Asian that doesn’t fit in the stereotype of being “Asian” , i.e. , I have brown skin, large eyes, shit looks and an even worse physique. And it sucks when you cosplay as a character you love and you get made fun of completely. It hurts a lot, both emotionally and financially. Frankly I’ve never even been bullied in school or anything, but the remarks on my cosplay were terrible, simply because of how I looked, and how my face just totally ruined the character. It’s better to warn the people about the hate they’ll definitely recieve if they cosplay.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now listen here, cause this is extremely important:

    It doesnt matter if youre super thin, ”normal”, chubby, fat, obese (you should care about your health tho), you CAN do cosplay! Are you white, black, asian, latino, literally anything, YOU CAN COSPLAY. Got a condition? As long as it doesnt damage your health YOU CAN COSPLAY.

    Is your chaacter a extremely fit, tall, hot blonde? Do you want to cosplay them? Freaking go for it.

    Do you try your best but in the end some things go wrong and your cosplay looks not so good?
    Well you tried. Youre still that character and should go to a con as such. It doesnt matter if it doesnt look great, because youll get better every time. It doesnt matter if youve done 2 or 20, you can always improve and you should be proud of what you accomplish every time. Some day, you’ll do it so well that people will ask you for pictures, and it will feel amazing.
    Until that day comes though. youll still feel great everytime someone recognizes your character.

    Go out there and have fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Okay, normally, I would not comment on something, but I am so fucking triggered right now.

    First of all, you are extremely racist. Black people can’t do cosplay? They are allowed to do so, and hell, I’ve seen some nice-looking cosplay with black people. Also, asians may be just “perfect” for Japanese characters, but anyone can do it.

    And fat/chubby people can’t do cosplay? Okay, I, personally, am a bit overweight, yet I plan on doing a nice cosplay of Chiaki Nanami at the next major con in Toronto. Am I not allowed to cosplay? Am I not a good person to do the cosplay? No.

    Let me just say this. YOU are the one who needs to fuck a cactus, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, you motherfucking racist asshole.

    Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can cosplay. I can cosplay, you can cosplay, even that annoying fat dude at my school that nobody likes can even cosplay, and what can you do about it? Nothing.



  4. Honestly, I think cosplay is for everyone. If you want to portray a character because of your love for them, why should anyone else stop you from doing so? It’s about being able to connect with like-minded people by expressing your adoration externally by means of cosplay. However, I don’t think the author of this article is that far off from the truth. They seem to be really pushing their opinion, whether it’s to incite passionate reactions or to voice their own frustrations but, at least a couple of the general points make sense to me.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I am an obese cosplayer and I cosplay because I love the characters I cosplay. I would never want someone to come up and tell me that I ruined their favorite character because I didn’t portray them in the correct way due to my physical appearance. Deep down though, I understand that, though people may recognize the character that I’m cosplaying, I’d be lucky to have even one person compliment my cosplay. Even though I made the whole thing from scratch and stayed up all night the three days before con to finish it; even though I collected as many costume references as I could to ensure my cosplay would be an exact replica; even if I had the makeup skills of a professional.

    There are some known cosplayers who are on the heavier side and they rock their cosplays for sure. But, for the most part, cosplayers whose photos are shared on the internet more often are on the thinner side. This could be due in part to wanting to protect these cosplayers that don’t necessarily match the original character’s physical attributes. We all know the internet is a rampant with trolls and assholes; how horrible would it be to post a photo of a cosplayer whose cosplay you loved only to find out later that your same photo has been shared to the dark corners of the internet and that cosplayer is now the butt of a very rude meme. Knowing that’s a possibility, you probably would then choose to only comment on their cosplay in person. Then you run into the problem that most people in this day and age of technological advancement have become more introverted as we’re afraid of confrontation and backlash and not knowing how to react to such things on the spot. In the end, you might not even comment on their cosplay at all except for internally.

    You also have to remember that if you’ve thought of it, so have many others before you. How often do you find a cosplay that is only being cosplayed by one person ever? Unless it’s a meme-y cosplay (such as Seahawks Boba Fett vs 49ers Slave Leia; really showing you guys that I’m a PNW cosplayer here), chances are others have also cosplayed the same character that you have. If you pool together all the cosplayers of a specific character, the cosplayer that will stand out the most is the one that will be the most accurate to the character, which in most cases is the most physically fit cosplayer.

    We also have to acknowledge that our society is driven on appearances. Someone seemingly following you down a street and they look untrustworthy? You’ve just judged that person solely on how you interpret their physical appearance. When a bartender or waiter asks for someone’s ID after they’ve ordered an alcoholic drink, they’ve just judged that person based on how young they look. When you’ve lost your way in an area you’ve never been to before and you have no access to internet, you’re going to try to find the friendliest looking person to ask for help.

    I’m in no way condoling these behaviors. I just accept that this is the reality that we live in. Cosplay adheres to these same realities. But they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. If we understand that these are the realities surrounding cosplay, we can change them. I’m not going to hold my breath in hopes that these changes will come into play just by snapping my fingers though.

    In the end, just because I’m not the best cosplayer out there, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop cosplaying. It doesn’t make me a blockhead to ignore negative comments either. In fact, I haven’t actually heard any hateful or hurtful comments in regards to my cosplays even though I’ve been cosplaying and posting photos of my cosplays online for many years now. I’m not going to stop doing what I love to do just because people resent the idea of me doing it. If I based my decisions in life on what others’ opinions of my life are, I might as well live my life as a puppet. However, I’m not going to turn a blind eye on the realities of my life. I’m not above the things that affect all of society. So what if I want to cosplay a character from Fairy Tail and I don’t have big boobs or bulging biceps; I’ll cosplay that character to the best of my ability and be able to enjoy myself as long as I can keep reminding myself that I’m cosplaying that character for me and not anyone else. However, on the other hand, I’m not going to lie to myself and expect tons of people to crowd around me in my cosplay while showering me with accolades. I’m not going to expect that someone will come up and tell me that I’m the best cosplayer of that character that they’ve ever seen. So long as I am able to enjoy myself and share in that adoration for a character that someone else might also have, that’s all that really matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are incredibly racist. You kept putting darker skin as ugly. As a teenage Latina who really wanted to start cosplaying FOR FUN, this is really discouraging and disgusting.


  6. Commenters are really missing the point here. The fact of the matter is, most, if not all people, judge cosplayers. Usually harshly. And that sucks. It’s a shitty reality. If you’re gonna put yourself out there, expect negativity kids!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe you should learn to “hold your tongue” as you said and let people live how they want. I get that everyone has opinions, but this list is so biased and just plain rude. It’s never going to be possible to be an exact copy of the person or thing you’re cosplaying. No one is perfect. That’s what makes it FUN though. Getting to see all kinds of different people, no matter their size or skin color or skill level, come together and bond over common interest. People like you are the reason people are afraid to cosplay. As much as I want to tell you that I hope you choke on a cactus, I was raised better than that. But I do hope you can learn a bit from these commenters and learn to be a little more kind and considerate, you racist insensitive prick.


  8. I see people telling you you’re a racist prick and I can’t help but laugh my ass off. Harleen’s right : they’re missing the point.

    What’s more, they’re missing the context of the culture Indonesians are steeped in, especially Indo netizens.

    I’m someone who is just about to go cosplaying for the first time. I am neither tall nor pale nor fit, and the character I’m about to cosplay is all of the above. Out of curiosity, I looked around for opinions on cosplay/local cosplayers and the first thing I stumbled upon is the shithole that is Kaskus – and the thread was rife with comments like – “If you’re dark-skinned, don’t cosplay an anime character” / “I don’t like Indonesian cosplayers because the majority are ugly” (read : typical Malay facial characteristics as opposed to perfect v-shaped jaw and thin nose and almond-shaped eyes expected of anime characters). It was…a wake-up call.

    I’ve talked to some friends who cosplay abroad – pretty sure it’s not as savage out there, but -here- there -will- be people who are unapologetically racist and tell it straight to your face. Eurasian features are still the hallmark of beauty, and god help you if you accidentally snub a fan for ‘destroying’ their waifu.

    Regardless, I’m still going to go. For fun, because this hobby’s taught me so much. Maybe the community I’ll find is sweeter than what I expected, but for now, this is good advice for someone new to cosplaying in Indonesia, so thanks. After all, hope for the best, expect the worst.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Honestly, this is completely true, and even though it’s really harsh and the person posting it could have phrased her words more politely, they are correct. If you’re darker, lighter, fatter, have a certain shaped nose, eyes, face; all of it is judged, even height is judged, if your 5’5 (165cm) and you cosplay a character who is 4’9 (144cm) it will be judged.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I actually agree : lesson learned “now your limitations rather than being a laughing stock at the cons” … guys and gals try to reread it and you might be atleast able to understand what he had been pointing out. And besides you might even gt embarassed
    if you won’t accept the fact—tho if i were u I would start losing weight,search for face exercises(to have a v-shape or buy a v-shaper) etc so yiea am greatly thankful for this guy to tell the truth


  11. I usually respect others’ opinions but this is just fucking bullshit. You don’t even know what cosplay is meant for. It isn’t a fucking fashion show. It is to have fun at cosplaying your favorite character!!!The cosplayer can be owerweight, 2 skinny, short, tall, white, black, asian and even green for all I care. As long as it is a ‘PERSON’ who likes to cosplay. Besides that, would you like to go to a con and only see perfect asians cospaying like come one. Are you even serious? On top of that, you mentioned YOU cosplay. So you must see yourself as someone who has the right to cosplay unlike others just bc of right appearance ? Like dude serious? I can’t even tell if you’re joking.


  12. Ok.. so how do I reply to this.. ok let’s start off by saying this..

    As much as it hurts me and make me wanna cry.. this person if correct. I think they were very rude at wording it, but they are correct. The part I do agree on out of all of this is that people are gonna judge. That’s all I believe in.

    But I got very offended when race and size became apart from this. I am a chubby cosplayer, and I do spend hours and time on my makeup and cosplay and it ends up good. I do get asked for photos and I ask for photos of some really good plus size cosplayers. Again, just as others had pointed out, THIS IS NO A MODLE AGENCY. Cosplay is for fun and some fame, it really is. I can tell you me and my friend admire cosplays of our fave characters even if their not the good or the don’t look that alike.

    I believe that if your makeup is good (not high top) and your costume is relevant to the character, then your 10000000000% ok. It doesn’t matter race or size as long as you feel happy about your costume/looks and have fun with it.


  13. Point is.. ANYONE CAN COSPLAY.


    Prepare to be judged. I think that is what the post meant. Admit it, maybe you consciously or unconsciously judge a person’s physical faults.

    I take mine for example. I’m a gigantic chic but I cosplay Denki Kaminarimon from Boruto. Anyone who knows the series is aware how fucking tiny he is. My friends love me, my cosplay and they invite me for photoshoots. I’m always the default Denki.


    Whether they admit it or not, I knew what went on their mind when they first learned that I’m going to be Denki or when hey first saw me.

    Denki? I’m too big to become Denki! But everyone brushed it off aside and became civil towards me.

    Whether we like it or not, people’s first instinct is to check you other people out and judge them. However, the action after the judgment is what defines them. Accept me? Good, let’s get this photoshoot on! Insult me? Well, I dont give a shit. I make myself happy not you. Also, you just confirmed yourself to be a prick.

    Do what you want. Cosplay whoever you want, go out there and face the world. People will judge, people will laugh. People are unconsciously perfectionists. This post doesnt stop you from cosplaying. It’s telling you to prepare for what’s out there.


  14. If these are your own views then you are a racist and bodyshamer and if you are only telling about your experiences in the Indonesian Cosplay community then everyone in those things are racist and disgusting.


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