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On misunderstandings about cosplay

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 8:01 PM
This is a topic I've been meaning to talk about for quite a while now. I finally got the motivation to when Sarah sorairo-days emailed me to share my thoughts on what cosplay means to me, and what I feel it really means to be a cosplayer despite all the misconceptions about the hobby. It's for this article on Random Nerds, in which Sarah shares her side of it as well.

Over the years, I've witnessed how cosplayers are constantly looked down upon, which makes people apprehensive towards it. It's such a shame because it's a wonderful and rewarding hobby which brings people together. And in general, I am firmly against making anyone feel bad about doing something they want to do.

I am aware that the concept of cosplay might be too much for some individuals, but our intention definitely isn't to get all up in everyone's faces and say everyone should cosplay or whatever.  We just want to promote a better understanding of the hobby, for anyone who is willing to keep an open mind about it.


For anyone who has ever been looked down upon for cosplaying
Have you ever been ashamed to admit that you're a cosplayer? I feel rather fortunate that the people in my life are all supportive, but I've seen it happen. I think most cosplayers would be familiar with that subtle look of criticism from some people when they reveal that they cosplay, or when they try to explain the hobby to someone who isn't into it. It tends to remind people a little too much of kids playing dress-up, which isn't an activity most will find dignified or respectable. Admittedly, there is a lot about the hobby that is easy to misinterpret. I think there are things about it that people only really understand when they actually give it a chance and try it out. (However I also acknowledge that it might not be for everyone.)

Other hobbyists that have a special enthusiasm for fictional characters would express it by drawing fan art, writing fanfiction, or collecting merchandise. You can do these things discreetly, and even anonymously. In contrast, cosplay is an activity that would put a person in a position that's very susceptible to scrutiny.


Consider that most costumes would require showing your face and parts of your body.


Add that to the fact that cosplay is something that is usually done publicly. It takes a certain level of courage to step outside and go through with it. Some people will find that commendable, but others are quick to use it as an opportunity to ridicule.

Common misconceptions are that cosplayers are misfits of society who reject reality and think of themselves as cartoon characters because they don't accept who they really are. Or that cosplayers are all just attention-seekers who are trying to win a popularity contest against each other. There might be people who exemplify these stereotypes, but we have to remember that any large group of people is bound to include a few questionable individuals. But it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone is like that.

The simple truth is, cosplay is like any other thing people do in their free time — something they do because they enjoy it. Some people watch TV, go to clubs and drink, play video games, read books, play a musical instrument, make artwork: and the list goes on. Perhaps it's not something a large percentage of the word would deem "normal", but cosplayers are just people who have a special appreciation for costumes and enjoy making and wearing them.

I've always been interested in costuming in movies, especially when the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out. I felt like the garments and accessories were so beautiful and I wanted to be able to touch them and collect them and even wear them. It was amazing to see these characters and items from the book come to life in a tangible way, rather than just seeing them in my imagination. I felt like just because a little bit of that beloved fantasy world had come to exist in reality, it made me want to believe even more in adventure, magic, love, and fellowship. I wanted, even in some small way, to be able to do something like that. One day, I stumbled upon some photos of cosplayers with beautiful photography, which got me researching what cosplay was about. It sounded like what I wanted to do, so I gave it a shot, and I haven't stopped since.



For me, cosplay is most importantly an activity I can bond with my friends over. I've even met some of my closest friends because of cosplay.


PotC: Bring Me That Horizon by behindinfinity
We're all into a lot of different stuff, but cosplay is one of the things that brings all of us together. Our relevant hobbies and skills fall under it (such as craft-making, sewing, painting, photography) so it even allows us to learn things and be productive while having fun. We find it an endless source of amusement to make group cosplay plans, construct pieces together, go out and be goofs while using the products of our efforts, and create beautiful images through photography.


After a grueling week working hard for our classes or jobs and being productive members of society, it's just a nice break to be able to do silly things with friends.


For some people maybe that means getting drunk and doing drugs, but my friends and I happen to prefer putting together costumes and wearing, hahah! We wear them to private photo shoots or to conventions where they are appropriate, so it's not like we even disturb other people with our fun.


I feel I'm very lucky to have a large group of friends who shares this with me. Not everyone has that advantage.


That's the reason some people attend conventions. There is a certain sense of camaraderie in cons because even though you may not personally know everyone, just by being there it means you are somehow a fan of the geeky interest the con revolves around. And some of those strangers may just become some of the best friends you've ever known.


At times, being a fan makes you feel the most ridiculous emotions in the world — and I mean that in the best way possible.


Not everyone understands that, so it's an awesome feeling to be around others who actually do.


Cosplay is a great celebration of the way we can let these fictional stories and characters grab hold of our hearts and somehow change the way we feel about ourselves. It's crazy and silly and totally beautiful.


As long as your feet are planted firmly on reality and you've got your priorities straight, being able to find that much meaning, joy, and inspiration in fiction —stories that teach us about bravery and friendship and hope and laughter— is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.


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:iconin-no-hurry2grow:
in-no-hurry2grow Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Student General Artist
I saw this for the first time today, and even though I don't cosplay, that was one of the best journals I've read so far. 

I want to get my sister to cosplay. :happybounce: 
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:iconceltyfarron:
CeltyFarron Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I remember reading this long ago. Even to this day, rereading it a year later, it still inspires me and encourages me to not be ashamed of cosplaying. For a long time I've grown to respect anyone who dresses up and bring characters to life. I'm still new to cosplaying, but It's a hobby I'm very passionate about. Thank you for showing me how artistic and fun cosplaying really is.
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:iconsheliavp:
sheliavp Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer

A friend of mine just posted this despite being a bit dated it does have very good points. Luckily were I live people have either never heard of cosplay or think it’s really interesting. I’m also lucky to work with a lady that does cosplay and models Zombie Bit Me (see was not the person that posted the article). She is great to work with and my observations at conventions has been that people respect what cosplayers are going weather it’s for fun or what they do for a living.

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:iconres1ka:
res1ka Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I know this is very old but You know what misconception I hate, the ones about how cosplayers are lazy and jobless that's not true at all one it's a lot of work to make your own cosplay two where do you think the money is coming from it can be a very expensive hobby if we didn't have jobs we wouldn't be able to afford it
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:iconlostdreamz82:
Lostdreamz82 Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013
so very well explained... KUDOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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:iconkuraihisaangel:
KuraiHisaAngel Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
I love to cosplay but I just can't seem to find the right people who would be willing to do it with me and knows what I'm talking about. I can say that it's pretty hard to explain it to people who don't understand what it is....I don't know what to say to them when they ask me who I'm dressing up as.
I can't sew on a sewing machine either to save my life if I ever wanted to make my own clothes instead of buying it.
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:iconsaymrrp:
SayMrrp Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Student Writer
Beautiful.
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:iconnightfang111:
NightFang111 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
This was wonderfully written. When I first learned about cosplay I immediately wanted to try it out. My friends and I have been lucky enough that we have families that support us. My mom helps me figure out how to sew my costumes, and because my house is small, my grandma has let me use her basement as a kind of costuming workshop, and has me show my finished costumes off to whoever happens to be around when I finish them. My dad helps out by just being there, and one of these days he's planning on teaching me some leather working. I don't know what I would do without all of their support, and it makes me feel better to know there are other cosplayers like you and your friends encouraging people who are not as fortunate in this as me.
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:iconfuncakezs:
Funcakezs Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
MAY I PLEASE ASK FOR PERMISSION TO USE YOUR TOPIC AS ONE OF MY
REFERENCES FOR MY CASE STUDY?
Reply
:iconendler:
endler Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I must say, even though this comment is pretty late considering when this journal came out, thank you Jin for writing out the words that I am sure many of us needed to hear. I was always curious as dressing up but it was upon finding your cosplays some years ago that the urge to start a cosplay, though obviously one that could be never as beautiful as the one you and your friends create, of multiple sorts. The urge was sort of pressed back down for a few years due to parents views of it and even now that I have a plethora of wigs and outfits there is still a bit of a tentativeness lingering in the background. Your words are definitely pretty inspirational, and despite the fact that I haven't a lick of a friend in sight to share the want to cosplay with putting on the costumes and going all out silly is still a heap of fun. c:

Excuse the text wall, by the way. :heart:
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:iconssafloyd:
Ssafloyd Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Amen. I love cosplay, and I am not ashamed to talk to people about it. If they don't appreciate it or think I'm a weirdy, that's their decision.
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:iconamiamu:
amiamu Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2012
I have always wished to cosplay... but unfortunately I'm in a country where you are almost forced to be someone else just to be accepted. I have friends who love anime but are just like me in that, they are afraid to cosplay because of how judgmental our country can be. The only time we could probably get away with something like that is on Halloween. But even then, its considered weird. Ha, its sometimes very sad...
Reply
:iconfakekira101:
fakekira101 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love this. Cosplaying is all about fun and I hate how people just assume cosplayers are freaks. But at the same time, those people are most likely doing activities that aren't so healthy. :/
Reply
:iconryekun:
ryekun Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I so agree with this JIN! Cosplay should be fun and share it with your friends. It's really a hobby that should make people happy :D
Reply
:icondran-yamamoto:
dran-yamamoto Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012  Student General Artist
What an inspiring journal about cosplay!
Reply
:iconpinkhairedsasuke:
pinkhairedsasuke Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
*claps hands while crying,,,,<3
Reply
:iconsupernovadobe:
supernovadobe Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2012  Student General Artist
Consider that most costumes would require showing your face and parts of your body.

Yup- this actually reminds me of a lot of things that don't have the most positive aspects to them. Because of that feeling of cognitive thought i've been collecting myself away from crit.

Also funny story- We were in bruise and bloody makeup and went out to eat and were given free food because the staff felt bad for the "pretty girls who got beat up"

SCORE?
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:iconbobapanda:
bobapanda Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2012
Thank you for writing this. It makes me feel so much more proud that I choose to do what I love, and if people aren't happy with it/dislike it, it's their own problem in their lives, not mine because I'll be doing what I love.

<3 Thanks 'behindinfinity'
Reply
:iconyamibakura03:
yamibakura03 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This... Brought tears in my eyes. Its ashamed that there are people who believe that cosplayers don't have any sort of life, but the truth is, we are actually enjoying it much more then them. Thats why I cosplay, because I love it, it makes me feel happy and I get the chance to experience wonderful memories along with friends and maybe newly friends I make at cons.
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:iconviveeh:
Viveeh Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Well said!
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:iconxtiangatuz:
xtiangatuz Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2012
TAMA!!!
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:iconakagii2004:
akagii2004 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2012
Amen to that!
Reply
:iconlioneess:
lioneess Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
i have never cosplayed before but i find the idea intrsting, i wanted to dress as amy pond from doctorwho as a token to the character, and of corse my mum doesnt underdtand this saying I am an adult now and pushing me away from the idea, i dont think she even knows what cosplay is
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:iconmaryisme:
maryisme Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2012
exactly :)
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:iconizumiishtar:
IzumiIshtar Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2012
This was so sweet~
Totally summed my own feelings about why I cosplay and why I love it so much.
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:iconkei-ivory:
Kei-Ivory Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely wonderful~ :iconhappytearsplz:
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:iconairashii-enjuku:
Airashii-Enjuku Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
That was dead on and beautiful man. I couldn't have said it better myself <3
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:iconstellahiru756:
StellaHiru756 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:heart:
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:iconriver-of-the-wind:
River-of-the-Wind Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2012
Amen.
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:iconchigami:
Chigami Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautifully written. :heart:
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:iconjusticeprevails-l:
JusticePrevails-L Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is truly inspirational! It warmed my heart and reminded me that even though (to be honest) I am scrutinized for cosplaying by my family, I should just do what I love and what makes me happy. Cosplaying is what that is and so I will continue it ^-^ <3
Reply
:iconhikaridemon:
hikaridemon Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well said. Like I keep telling myself, you and the Tuxedo Mask Team are literally my inspiration to want to cosplay.

I don't have the money are the sewing skills yet, but I really want to cosplay. I don't care what people will say of me. I pretty much given up the fact that some people won't understand me, but who cares. I would rather be myself than become something that someone else wants me to be.

Keep up the good work!
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:iconguyaricankitten:
GuyaricanKitten Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This journal entry made me smile.. I love your pictures and they were very fitting for your message :)
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:iconashla:
Ashla Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012
Very well written ^^
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:iconequine-aurora:
Equine-Aurora Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012
<3 I've only ever cosplayed one character mostly cause cosplaying is also an expensive hobby and I also have Asian Ball jointed dolls that steal most of my spare money but I loved it when I did it and would really like to do it again. I have several cosplays planned just not sure if i'll ever do them, but this is great. I love it.
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:iconlarire:
LaRire Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This kind of has me excited...now if people give me weird looks when I say what I like to do in my free time, I can just bring this up on my phone, hand it over to them, and say, "Read. Right now."

Thanks for being so freaking awesome. ^-^
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:iconemakura:
Emakura Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! Thank you!
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:iconangelanicolle:
AngelaNicolle Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
You sound a lot like :iconsawakokuronumaplz: *compliment*
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:iconboboborocks:
boboborocks Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I agree with this :D
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:iconshizune-chan013:
shizune-chan013 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
thank you so much for sharing your view!!!


now i'm sure that i will definitely NEVER regret cosplaying!!!

^ ^
Reply
:iconaveria-avie:
Averia-Avie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Professional General Artist
your words in this journal inspired me to continue cosplay... as of late, I'm slowly running out of motivation to cosplay.. But I've realized! I have my friends..those people who became priceless family to me, without me realizing that they'll become my best friends now... I just thought that cosplay gave me that opportunity. It's not everyday you meet people who share the same interests and passions as you...and I'd be such an idiot to just turn back on a hobby that gave me the friends I call family now. I know, none of us can cosplay forever, and there would be a time we would all come to a point that we'd have to let the hobby go, since, there are more important things that matter. But then, the friendships and memories in this hobby will always remain..nothing and no one can take those away from us :) Sorry for my :icontoolongdidntreadplz: comment, but this just made me realize about a few things :D
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:iconleidieeyuki:
leidieeyuki Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Student General Artist
your works are soo inspiring and motivational.. i am generally a shy type of person but when i cosplay, i just feel so... ALIVE may the appropriate word.

soo.. thank you thank you! for inspiring me!

honto ni arigatou gozaimasu! :)
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:iconeveshelby:
eveshelby Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012
I had not heard the term 'cosplay' before and had no idea what it was... but from your explanation and descriptive writing I was able to grasp the concept right away! Also enjoyed yours pictures... an impressive and awesome collection! :))
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:iconexiledfantasy:
ExiledFantasy Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love what you wrote here! <3 I only wish things could be good for me like they seem to be with you. I'm already teased enough for just liking anime and not being ale to help the fact that all I know how to draw is anime/manga styled art sooo cosplaying is only left for a select few friends to know about.
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:icon2boredproductions:
2BoredProductions Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Student General Artist
I love your article and it is true we cosplayers to get stereotyped and teased. For example, while our group was out for a photo shoot a man made fun of my friend because she was wearing her Stocking wig. We just smiled and kept walking.

People really don't realize that it a hobby just like knitting or swimming, it's just a smaller percentage. Most cosplayers are respectful, and follow proper cosplay etiquette.

Despite the snickers and side comments, I still love to cosplay and it's even better with my friends by my side. Ever since we went to our first convention (where we were completely accepted) we've been hooked on cosplaying. We've made a couple mistakes, but hey you learn best when you mess up.

Cosplay is awesome. Just awesome.
Reply
:iconmoonlight-pixie:
moonlight-pixie Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012
Thanks a lot, Jin, for this. You know, you're one of my inspirations, the reason why I started to like cosplay :heart:
If only I have a large amount of money, I could cosplay every character I want. haha! :D
Reply
:iconeccentric-realm:
eccentric-realm Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012  Hobbyist Interface Designer
mister coelho said once that if people can do all the silly things and craziness that they want, they will be happier and less frustrated... :D i agree, you have to take care for your inner child... so thank you for reminding us that life is not all about jobs and careers, but the simple things can bring absolute happiness.. :D
Reply
:iconmanishachan:
ManishaChan Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
no one minds that i cosplay...theyre like "ok, thats what shes into, awesome :meow: " :D
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:iconmanishachan:
ManishaChan Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
cosplay is one of the best things that happened to me in my life :) only because i got inspiried by people like you
Reply
:icontheeicefaerie:
TheeIceFaerie Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Not a cosplayer myself but i have a profound appreciation for the art form and respect for those who do it (especially those who do it well). And even just as a cosplay fan, i can say honestly i am always made to feel like i have to justify my interest or the fact that i consider it a legitimate art form. People think i'm silly for paying any attention.

Thanks for posting this. Keep doing what you're doing!
:love:
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