Lately around the cosplay community, I’ve seen a lot of comments from people with low self-confidence, concerned with what people will think of their cosplays. I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of the more common concerns I’ve seen, and maybe share some of my “wisdom” that has come with age.
I’m not that good at cosplay:
Sure you are! Everybody starts somewhere. There’s a saying I love that I’ll paraphrase for you “don’t judge your first chapter to the middle of someone else’s story”. Chances are that if you see someone’s cosplay that you’re super jealous of, they’ve been doing this for years (or they had help from someone who has been) Don’t compare your first or second costume to their 20th.
I can also guarantee that even the “best” cosplayers have an area they wish they were better at. They might be incredible at sewing, but not very good at Worbla, or vice versa. Don’t get down on yourself because you aren’t good at everything yet. There is always opportunity to learn and grow.
And last, remember that artists always see their “flaws” more clearly than others. Chances are that nobody else is noticing that paint that you “messed up”. And chances are if you asked any cosplayer they’d be able to point out something on their costume that didn’t turn out quite as envisioned, or that they could’ve done better.
What if other people think my cosplay isn’t good?
Get inside your own brain for a second. How do you think about other cosplayers while at conventions? Do you judge them for a “not very good” costume? Probably not. Now realize that 70% of people at the convention are going to be the same as you. Those who aren’t cosplaying are impressed with your skills and courage to come in costume, maybe even wishing they could cosplay.
Most others in costume are in the same boat as you, wondering if their cosplay is up to par. Another 25% might be the top-level cosplayers, and most of them aren’t judging you for not being up to their skill level. They are usually excited to see people who share their hobby, thrilled by your character choice, and remembering when they were in your shoes. There might be 5% of people there who are jerks, just because if you get a large enough crowd there are always a few. Hopefully, They keep their judgy thoughts to themselves, but even if they don’t, just ignore them and remember that their opinions are in the minority.
Side Note: If you enter any type of competition you are opening yourself up to judgement. Obviously the judges are there to judge your work (usually in the nicest way possible, but it’s still their job to judge), other competitors may size you up (most of the time people are pretty nice, but a contest tends to bring out the competitive nature, which isn’t always pretty), and even the crowd may feel more free to critique your costume. I say this not to scare you away from competing, but to just make you aware that putting yourself out there can often open you up to criticism.
I want to cosplay as a certain character but I’m afraid people won’t know who I am:
This may be the fact that I’m almost 30 talking, but who cares?! You are doing this because it’s something you love and you connect with the character on some level (even if it’s just because you think the costume looks cool) Refer back to the last paragraph for judgy thoughts. Plus, chances are even if people don’t know/ don’t like your character they will still appreciate your cool costume.
I can almost guarantee that no matter how obscure you think your character is, you will run into at least one other person who is also a huge fan. I’ve even heard stories of people making friends at conventions because they bonded over a mutual fandom.
I’m afraid I’m the wrong gender/age/size for a certain cosplay:
Now, there is something to be said for cosplaying as a character you already resemble, but don’t let that limit your Cosplay choices. See the above paragraph, Nothing should stop you from cosplaying as a character you truly love. At the end of the day we are just there to have fun, and live life as another character for a day.
My friends/parents don’t approve of my cosplaying:
Consider why you are friends with these people. Have a conversation with them. Is there some sort of misunderstanding or misconception that you can clear up, or are they determined to judge your hobby because it’s not mainstream. The older I get, the more I value the quality of my friends over the quantity. I have many friends who “don’t get” cosplaying and would never do it in a million years, but they still value it as my hobby and enjoy seeing pictures and asking me about it. These are the people I want to be friends with.
Parents are harder, you’re stuck with them. Sit down and have an adult conversation with them. Try not to argue and yell. Ask them what their concerns are, and determine if any of them are valid (“you’re spending money you don’t have.”, “Your schoolwork is suffering.”, etc.) Make a list of some of the benefits of cosplaying. This might include things like: you are learning skills like sewing, painting, etc. You are learning self confidence to move and speak in front of a group of peers. Maybe you are planning on pursuing a career in art, costume design, acting, or prop construction, and you are honing skills that you can use later in life. Hopefully you can find some middle ground and reach a place of mutual respect and acceptance.
People are leaving mean comments on my Instagram/Facebook:
This is one of my least favorite things about the Internet. People hide behind a wall of anonymity and say things they would never say to someone’s face. I don’t get it, maybe they’re just being spiteful, jealous, or they are just horrible people. Browse on over to Yaya Han, Jessica Nigri, or Ivy Doomkitty’s pages (or any famous person for that matter!). They get quite a few hateful comments, so realize that no matter how good, pretty, or famous you are, you will still get these comments (in fact you open yourself up to more).
If it’s just a one-off comment, delete it and try to ignore it the best you can. And if it’s repeated harassment, block the user and maybe even report them. If it’s a close friend, you might need to confront them directly, and maybe even reconsider why you’re friends with this person.
I’m still worried about the haters:
In the words of Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off”. I know, easier said than done. I’m not saying this to be callous, but because I’ve realized that all through your life you are going to encounter people who will criticize your life choices, goals and aspirations, looks, etc. It’s best to learn to deal with and overcome criticism in all aspects of your life. and to not let others stand in the way of your dreams.
If you suffer from low self-esteem it’s easy to let your negative thoughts get the best of you. It’s good to remember that you are headed to a gathering of like-minded nerds. These are your people! Every convention I’ve ever been to the positive reactions have outweighed the negative 99 to 1.
I also try to take any negative comments with a grain of salt. Is the feedback coming from a trusted friend or an expert I admire, or is it just a troll stirring up the pot? Feedback can be a good thing, coming from the right people. It helps to point out areas in which we can continue to improve.
I hope this post was helpful for some of you. I promise I wasn’t trying to sound mean, or like I don’t care (I hope I didn’t come off that way…) It’s just as I’ve gone through life I’ve had the benefit of learning that not every negative comment or reaction is the end of the world, it’s just part of life, and we can choose to let it help us grow, or we can let it cripple us. Which would you rather do?