My Dear Cosplay Ladies,
I want to start by telling you that I have so much admiration for you. You are so beautiful. You are so dedicated, so talented. You have so much heart. I love watching you dress to the nines at conventions and browsing the pictures that proudly show off your work. I am inspired by you every day – by how passionate you get over your fandoms, the hours you spend researching new building techniques, and the times you safety pin an outfit from a box of scraps for the fun of it.
We’re up against a surprising amount of adversity in this hobby, we women. At every convention, there’s somebody trying to shame us for not being “true” geeks. When photos show up online, we’re blamed for not being pretty enough or the right body type or the right gender for what we’re wearing. To do what we enjoy, we are forced to fight through a haze of doubt, criticism, and negativity. Given the state of the geek community and the state of the internet right now, this is our reality.
So my plea to you is: Be good to each other.
There is increasing bitterness between women who cosplay. It’s true that competition is common when women are in close contact over long periods of time. But most of us come from a background of feeling like outcasts for our interests, or feeling like we don’t measure up to others somehow. So why is there not more of an effort to make our space safe for each other? Why do we not stick together against all the things trying to tear us down?
Instead, our space is full of catty public comments, flash judgments, and sob stories. Why are cosplay girls writing hate-fueled blog posts ranting at each other for being posers or backstabbers? Why is it considered a point of pride not to accept blame when we hurt people with our words? Why do we use language with other women that we would never tolerate coming from a man? Why do we treat each other the way we were treated in elementary school?
Why are we not good to each other?
I will never understand the women who say that they don’t like other women. I am lucky to have close, supportive girlfriends in my life. I can tell you honestly: when you do it right, friendship doesn’t have to be a competition, and it doesn’t have to be an repetitive series of dramas. For that matter, nor does sharing a hobby with hundreds of women you don’t know – really. We will inevitably have problems with each other, but they don’t have to turn ugly. Be truthful. Be kind, as much as you can. Be thoughtful and supportive. Acknowledge that other women have feelings and that you can have an effect on them.
And please, I beg you, take the high road. When you’re tempted to bitch another gal out, don’t do it. When your fingers are hovering over the keys, ready to write a scathing Facebook post about the failings of soooo many girls who cosplay, don’t do it. Close the window. Close your mouth. Turn your judgmental thoughts around and use them to inspire yourself to be better. You cannot control each other; you can only control yourselves… And chances are, you will ultimately get what you give.
Please. Be good to each other, ladies. You all deserve it.
My support always,