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.
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!