I found an article earlier today on facebook that was being shared around. According to those friends of mine who shared it, it was being shared for all the wrong reasons. It's linked in the description below. Please read it before continuing on.
Read it? All of it? *ahem* Good. Now then...
Here's my problem with this. Other than the fact that this person is, at very least, a judgmental, big-headed, tactless snob of an elitist, my overlaying issue with this article is that this person has taken something that she calls several times as an "artform" and makes it, not about the art, but about how people who are bad at said art are offending HER. This article isn't an essay to make potential first-time cosplayers better. This is an article about some snobby, stuck up bitch with a superiority complex telling everyone that they'd better shape up and learn themselves somethin' before it really gets on her nerves.
Lady. Your tits. Calm them. I bet you weren't a star seamstress at fourteen. I have my own share of awful cosplays in my past. And so what if someone is overweight? Or perhaps a different skin color? Or a different gender? Are there some cosplays that don't fit the body type of the person that's wearing them? Sure, but what does that mean? That you should stop cosplaying all together? Cosplay has a certain toxicity to it, both in culture and practice, but beyond the cliques and the judgement, beyond the attention whoring and the vying for camera time, there is something else there.
Fun. Fun and the opportunity to meet other people with the same interests and fandom as your own. This self-proclaimed expert "Liz" asserts the fact that by putting together a bad cosplay, you are essentially "pissing on my fandom" and that, kiddies, is an original sin. Of course, it's perfectly all right for this absolutely flawless archangel of an artist to piss all over yours.
And so, in response, here are MY rules to cosplay. I give these rules as an actor, a geek, an author and over-all artist.
#1: Time spent is not time wasted. Research is of course a key element in creating anything, cosplay or otherwise. This was one of the few points where Liz and I agree. However, according to our dear friend, research is something that is so staunchly required that it is punishable by flogging if you don't know every single detail of both your character and the world around them. My opinion? Cosplay only what you love, or with those who matter to you. Those are the only people who should have any weight on who you decide to be.
#2: A labor of love. There should always be a level of commitment and earnestness put behind every cosplay. The more love you put into a costume, the more it will shine through when that big day approaches. But building should never be a chore. If every little detail (no matter how frustrating it may be) does not excite you, why are you doing it?
#3: Know your body. I am no super model, I'll tell you that much. And honestly? Neither is Liz. In the real world, a lot of us can't devote our lives to shrinking down to Haruhi Suzumia's size for good. At the moment, I myself am actually trying to lose a little weight for a cosplay I'll be doing this ComiCon, but that's only because the love and admiration I have for the character I'll be portraying is so great that I'm actually willing to give up sugar and sweets in order to make it work. If you are not willing, forcing yourself to try and change to fit the costumes of fictional characters for the approval of strangers will only land you in depression and self loathing. So if you are a different color, a little over or under weight, not nearly as buff, do not fret. Mold the cosplay to fit your body, not the other way around.
#4: Crossplay is OK. This is where I and Miss Lizzy completely disagree. Now let me tell you, as a female with a DD bra size, it's not easy. Often times, I have to make sure the shirt I wear is frumpy enough to hide myself even when I DO bind. However, it's worth it because the boy characters I do end up cosplaying are either interesting, funny, or awesome enough to warrant tying my chestacles up for the day. Cosplay is all about losing yourself in a fantasy world. Why should something as simple as gender stand in its way?
#5: Rule 63. Another point where she and I vastly differ. As I mentioned before, I'll be revealing a new cosplay this summer at ComiCon. That cosplay? Kratos from my favorite video games of all time: the God of War series. But even with the greatest binding in the world, I would never, ever be able to pull him off. And so I decided I will do a female version of the character who I adore so deeply. I have designed an appropriate feminine version of his outfit, and have plans on putting an entire half year's worth of effort to perfect it before July. And yet, according to Liz, such effort should be shunned, mocked, degraded and dismissed because, as she puts it: "no one is impressed, more people are disgusted than anything else."
And that's it. Those are the only commandants I have for anyone to potentially follow. I am not pretending to be an advanced cosplayer. I still have a long way to go. But when you forget the essential elements and wonder that drew you into cosplay in the first place, well, quite frankly, you become someone poisonous, to the point of alienation and down right ugliness.
Someone, to put it plainly, like Liz.