Cosplaying is something people do to have fun with their friends or to give themselves a boost of confidence. We all know that cosplaying has broken many stereotypes. However, it has changed in recent years. Everything is starting to feel competitive. It is always who does make-up better or how to create a better costume. With the continuously growing community, there is the sudden need to know its unspoken rules and the drama that happens within it.
Cosplay is expensive
Cosplaying is just dressing up as your favourite character, right? That’s not the case at all. Buying the costume, wigs and props can cost a lot depending on the character. For example, the cost for a costume of the character Nezuko from Kimetsu No Yaiba can cost up to RM100, without including the cost of the wig or accessories. If you were to buy the entire costume, it would cost you at least RM200. You could imagine how empty your wallet would be if you were to cosplay more characters from looking at those numbers.
To save money, it is always better to try looking for other options before buying a costume. You can find many easy D.I.Y videos on the internet but you would have to purchase the materials needed. Making the items yourself would definitely save a lot of money, but it takes a lot of time and effort. If you are new to making your own cosplay costumes, start off with an easy character and do not get too ambitious, as the materials are usually not cheap and it would be better to start by building some experience! Your first props may not look the best but you should not give up because practice makes perfect.
It is no longer for “everyone”
It is no surprise that the cosplay community has gained so much attention and grown to be what it is now with the rise in anime fans. However, with this growth came the rise in model cosplayers entering the scene. These model cosplayers cosplay as popular characters, rather than characters they like, which defeats the main reason why so many people cosplay: To feel connected with their favourite character. Besides the lack of emotional connection, this has also brought light to the double standards within the community. These models have proven that the cosplay community is nicer to you when you are good-looking and you need a perfect body with a pretty face to “suit the character”. It may be heartbreaking to hear someone say that you do not look like the character and it is hard not to fear being judged by others, but remember, you are cosplaying for yourself to enjoy and not for anyone else.
Some people just have no boundaries
Sometimes, certain people forget that cosplayers are people too and that they have their boundaries. Such people think of cosplaying as an “invitation”. These individuals would often get too close when taking a picture or even grab your waist or arm. When you are cosplaying in a public space, be sure to set up personal boundaries. If a person gets touchy with you, tell them to stop. Do not be afraid to speak up. You do not owe this person anything. There are also people out there who think cosplayers who wear revealing clothes are willing to show more with the right amount of money. They would pressure these cosplayers with money, asking them to have ‘private photoshoots’ or ‘showcases’ for themselves. If someone does this and makes you feel uncomfortable, leave them instantly. If they keep pressuring you, reach out to someone and ask for help. Although the cosplay community may be toxic, they are people who are supportive and would understand where you are coming from. They would definitely be more than willing to help.
The internal conflicts of cosplayers
It is no surprise that internal conflicts take place within a community. However, in the cosplay community, these conflicts can occasionally escalate badly, especially when it comes to bullying and disagreements. No matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ of a cosplayer you may be, people would always judge or bully you for how you look. People forget that cosplayers are just dressing up as a character; they are not actually the characters they are cosplaying. In October 2020, famous Malaysian Cosplayer Hakken, who is well known for cross-dressing, was accused of catfishing. Hakken never said she was male but people assumed that she was. When they found out that she was not, they started criticizing her. Remember that when people are in cosplay, they are still their own being, not the character they portray.
Minor disagreements often take place in the cosplay community, usually over petty issues. People would constantly disagree over who is the ‘best character’ in a series and get into fights over it. Many friendships have fallen apart due to these minor disagreements, and it is sad to see it happen. When joining the community, it is almost impossible to avoid these conflicts because it takes time to find the right group of friends as a new cosplayer. If you feel uncomfortable within the circle you are in, leave them. Do not stay because you are afraid that you will have no friends because you will definitely meet new people: Your type of people.
The unspoken rule of the community
Those outside the community would not know about this, but there is an unspoken rule that everyone should know in the community and that is to be aware of the social circles. It is crucial to keep in mind that the cosplay community has these internal conflicts and when organizing group shoots, the organizer needs to be aware of the social circles. Cosplayers often cancel each other online, and if the organizer is not aware of this, they may get canceled too. As a result of this, people would avoid working with them. In this community, sometimes you have to be mindful of who you surround yourself with, especially with social circles.
Even though so many people have left the community, others stay because there are many positives that outweigh the negatives. In the cosplay community, you have a sense of belonging as everyone around you usually shares the same hobby as you and of course, interest—the feeling of meeting new people and making new friends while being able to express your creativity. Every community has its ups and downs, so do not be afraid to explore the community!
By Ang Hui Li