Cosplay has been a thing since the term was coined back in 1984, but it wasn't until the 90's that it became super popular in Japan and other areas. What's cosplay? If we've ever seen people dressing up as their favorite characters at a convention like Comic-Con, chances are those people were cosplayers. The trend involves role-playing and pretending to be a character from a video game, TV show, anime or other comic book, movie or cartoon. We might have done something like in the past or maybe we have some friends who are committed to it. Or maybe we have no idea what it is and have never really even thought about it. Cosplay is definitely a super fascinating part of our culture and it's worth having a conversation about it since it deals with cultural, societal, and gender norms, even if it just seems like someone is dressing up in a costume.
These days, cosplaying is a pretty big thing and people get super into it. There are some less than amazing parts of it, though, and those aspects, unfortunately, don't get talked about a lot. There are some reasons why cosplaying might not be the best idea ever for us females. Read on to find out 15 dark secrets about cosplay girls.
15 There's A Lot Of Pressure To Maintain The Quality Of Your Costumes
Although cosplay is technically supposed to be a ton of fun, since it's almost like people are celebrating Halloween all the time or whenever they want, that doesn't always seem to be the case.
People have shared online in various stories and forums that they feel they have to look super similar to the character that they play. It seems like that can cause a lot of negative feelings. That makes sense, right? Think about the pressure that we can feel to have the best Halloween costume ever (or even just not leave it to the very last minute like we usually do). This is like that... times 100 since there's a whole community and culture and if people are attending conventions and festivals, it's a very public thing.
14 Meeting Expectations Is So Stressful
As a story on Kotaku.com says, there is a level of stress involved for cosplay girls. As the writer says, "Meeting expectations to adopt a character's essence can be grueling. Things go wrong with your sewing machine, your wigs, your props, you run out of money, real life gets in the way, you don't know how to put something together, the paint job went wrong, the glue didn't hold, you didn't lose enough weight—the number of things that can get in the way when doing cosplay is crazy."
Anything in life can be both fun and stressful at the same time, and this seems like one of those things. We always hope that the good times will outweigh the bad aspects, but it's easy to see how someone would get stressed AF and it would ruin the whole experience.
13 The Cost Of Maintaining The Costumes Takes A Toll
Just think about all the things that go into being a cosplay girl. You have to buy or make a costume, and that involves all the things mentioned above, from wigs to props to anything else.
If you don't have a ton of money or really any disposable income, then it seems like this might not be the best hobby for you to have. Of course, that really sucks if it's something that interests you or if it's something that you used to do and then ran out of money or your situation changed for some reason. Maybe for some cosplayers, the expense is worth it, but since there are some less than great things about it, it might not be worth the extra money in the end.
12 There's So Much Sexism It's Heartbreaking
There's a part of cosplay that is really not fun, and that's the culture of sexism that exists. Since a lot of women are dressing up in really hot costumes and looking amazing as a result, that makes the guys who are participating think that they can treat them however they want.
When Anime Expo was held in L.A. in July 2014, there was a panel called Cosplay Is Not Consent that focused on this issue. This is just one small part of a larger movement to talk about the sexism in cosplaying and to make sure that people know that keeping it a secret really isn't a good idea. We're definitely down with talking about this subject and think that this panel sounds really inspiring.
11 Harassment Happens All The Time To These Women
When there's sexism, harassment is not far behind, and lots of cosplay girls have shared online that they or their friends have been physically assaulted, grabbed, touched, etc. when at a festival or convention. This is sadly and unfortunately not a crazy thing to hear since the past few months have exposed a culture of sexism, abuse, and harassment in Hollywood and elsewhere.
As Vivid Vivka, a cosplayer who was involved with the panel Cosplay Is Not Consent shared with Vice.com, "There is a darker, hurtful side of cosplay. People get wrapped up and bogged down by the little details and this venomous need to rip the person down." Harassment happens both online and IRL and it's pretty common to walk around a convention floor or venue and hear people insulting others for how they look or claiming that they don't look good enough to be that particular character. Yikes.
10 They Get Called Horrible Names
As one female cosplayer shared in the article on Kotaku.com, "I don't ask for the comments of 'W***E/B**CH/S**T' or 'PUT ON SOME CLOTHES' while I'm trying to get to my hotel, nor do I ask to be glomped/grabbed/have someone try and remove my top/kissed/pulled at/or anything like that. It just makes me feel worse about myself."
It's apparently pretty common for women to be called "w***es" or "s**ts" when they're cosplaying, so that's definitely a super dark side of the whole thing. And it's absolutely terrible. Why do guys have to behave so badly when they see hot girls in hot costumes?! It's truly ridiculous and insulting and immature and it shouldn't be happening. Unfortunately, it seems like this is something that might not end anytime soon.
9 Some Are Way Too Ashamed And Keep It Hidden From Their Friends And Family
There are some stories of women who didn't want anyone to know about their life as a cosplay girl, so they essentially kept it a secret and lived a double life.
We think that sounds pretty tough to us, so this definitely fits into the category of "when cosplay has a dark side." How miserable is it that people don't think that they can tell their friends and family what they do all the time?! People really have nothing to be ashamed. Sure, there are some things about the cosplay world that are a real shame, but for the most part, it seems like so many women are empowered by it and consider it to be a really positive experience. No one should think that the people in their life would judge their choices or refuse to support something that they do.
8 These Women Feel Like The Ultimate Object
There are a whole bunch of confessions on the Whisper app about the dark side of cosplay, and this is one thing that someone said is a massive problem.
Specifically, the comment was, "I'm tired of women being objectified when cosplaying. We're not objects." We know that this happens in so many communities and in so many different industries, but it seems to be a particularly big problem for cosplay girls. That makes tons of sense since it's such an appearance-heavy thing. If someone's dressing up in a costume, they're going to hear all kinds of things about what they look like, right? It seems impossible for that not to happen, although in a perfect world no one would be nasty or harsh. If only...
7 The Women Are Made To Feel Really Insecure About Their Bodies
When girls are really focused on what they look like, which seems to be the case in the cosplay world since everyone's dressing up in costumes, there's always going to be a flip side and that's always going to be body insecurity. There have been stories of women developing eating disorders or just feeling terrible about the way that they look because they've been cosplaying.
It's easy to see how some girls would get very insecure about their appearance when participating in the cosplay community. Even someone with the highest confidence and self-esteem ever would probably think badly about themselves sometimes thanks to the nature of cosplaying. Of course, every woman has felt that she didn't measure up or look as good as other people at least once in her life, and those feelings seem to be amplified when cosplaying.
6 Some Women Use This As An Escape From Their Real World
To some of us, it might seem like dressing up as someone else is a waste of time or not that much fun. To others, it's the best idea ever and really adds something to their life.
To some, though, it's a form of escape, and that's something that is discussed pretty often. What exactly are they running away from? Their life. Maybe they're having a tough time and don't have the career or relationship or even apartment that they want. So instead of dealing with that and making some positive changes so they can be happy, they get involved with cosplaying. This isn't to say that everyone is using it in that way. It's just what some people do, so it's something that deserves a mention.
5 Most People Think It's The Strangest Thing One Could Do
Since there's an aspect of being a cosplay girl that is a bit on the nerdy (but totally awesome) side, since it's all about being a fan of a certain anime character or TV show or movie, it makes sense that some people would be kind of mean about it.
A lot of cosplay girls are told that their hobby is super weird and that it just makes no sense. As one guy posted on the online forum The Student Room, "I just find it incredibly unattractive- watching anime is fine, I do that occasionally too, but cosplay and dress up is just too much for me! Does anybody else find it really weird or is it just me? Obviously it's not a bad thing to like, there are worse hobbies a person can have, and if they had an amazing personality I guess it wouldn't be much of a problem. I just wondered if anyone else feels similarly about this, or am I just being mean?"
4 There Seems To Be A Lot Of Judgement Going On
As someone shared on Kotaku.com, "I've occasionally stumbled on darker parts of the community, who get angry when someone dares to cosplay as someone that's a different gender, race or especially body type. Kat told me about an early cosplay where she was called out for not being the right skin tone, and she's had to "lighten my skin, cover freckles, [and] attempt to color my darkass eyebrows."
It sounds totally terrible and ridiculous to tell someone that they can't dress up as the character that they want to because they don't look 100 percent like them... but this is unfortunately something that comes up a lot in the cosplay world. People get judged all the time for their costume choice and that really sucks. Can't we all just get along?!
3 There's Some Racism Too
As one person shared on the Whisper app, there's a lot of racism that goes in the cosplay world. What's the most common form of racism that people experience when cosplaying?
When someone dresses up like a certain character, they often hear from other people that they shouldn't have done that because they're not the same race or from the same background as that character. Um, what?! Yeah, that really does happen. It seems crazy because that's just so horrible and so ridiculous, but it's honestly a really big problem in the community. People make these harsh comments both online and in person, so it's not like they're just hiding behind screens. Ugh. This is a side of the community that is just as terrible as the sexism and harassment side.
2 Maybe They're Doing It For The Wrong Reason
When people get really into something and make it a massive part of their life, it makes sense that sometimes, they might be doing it for a reason that's not the best. It's totally possible that some girls decide to cosplay because they're insecure about themselves or their body and are trying to look different. It's also possible that they do this to ignore a problem in their life or something that's going on. It might be easier to dress up and go to conventions all the time instead of facing their life.
When we really love something, we can easily turn it into a total and complete obsession, and that's when it becomes pretty dark and unhealthy. This can happen with anything, from eating too clean or working out way too much.
1 It's More "Sexy" Than Dorky Now
As one poster said on an online forum, "I find it bloody annoying now that society has hyper-sexualized it (like Halloween). It is pitiful that a true cosplayer, who spends countless hours and massive amounts of money on a proper, complete costume, is called a 'nerd' and marginalized by 'professional cosplayers'."
We totally get that they would be frustrated by this because it does sound pretty terrible. There definitely seems to be two kinds of cosplayers: the nerds, as this person put it, and everyone else who is trying to look super hot and sexy all the time. It just goes to show that anything that is trendy usually has both a good and a bad side, and cosplaying is no different because it definitely has a dark side.
Sources: whisper.sh, Thestudentroom.co.uk