2009 is the last time that I costumed, and it was amazing.
Let me tell you why.
In 2009, the term “Cosplay” existed, but hadn’t taken off to the extent that it has now. Girls who dressed up in costumes, did so because it was fun, but they were still a relatively small group. Costuming was a mostly male dominated area. Since 2009, things have blown up, both in good and bad ways.
The good thing is, that girls have broken into the “geek” genre and no longer feel ashamed to bring their inner geek to the table. We’ve embraced our love of comics, video games and movies and have unleashed our inner costumers.
The bad thing is, it has brought out the “fake nerd girls”. These group of costumers, or “cosplayers” are the worst of the worst and bring with them a whole different avenue of attention. These girls are only in costuming to make money and get attention. They prey on the very “nerd boys” they claim to represent. Which is despicable, but pretty much unpreventable.
The thing is, they can’t even bring themselves to admit what they are doing. They create Facebook fan pages to “connect” with their fan base. But you never actually see them talking to the people who leave comments on the page itself or the photos they post. And the photos they post are part of the problem. These photos, vast majority of the time, are of said “cosplayer” in an over-sexualized version of whatever they’re costuming as. Which I’ll get back to in a minute, but leads into another point. The costumes themselves.
Most of these girls choose to make costumes that are from video games, comics or movies that are, usually, male characters. Not that I have a problem with taking a male character from a comic book and making it your own, doesn’t matter what your gender or your race is. But usually when you decide to costume a specific character, you stay true to them. You wouldn’t take Deadpool and make a costume of him without his mask would you? Not if you wanted to make sure people recognized you. Which is what one of these so called “nerd girls” did.
I’m not trying to be a hypocrite here, considering what I do as an artist, but I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. When I and my friends dress up, we do it because we love whatever character we’re dressing up as. When I draw what I draw, its because I love it. Half of these girls couldn’t tell you about the character they are “cosplaying” as. What’s probably even worse, is that they are paid to go to conventions, they are funded the money to get the materials they need for a costume, or to buy/commission the costume itself. They make prints of said costume, usually in sexy poses, in sexy costumes and turn around and post them to their Facebook pages to make even more money. Which isn’t just wrong, its also in the gray area of illeagal.
See, certain companies, like Marvel or Disney, don’t like people making money off of their copyrighted characters, unless they’re authorized to do so. An example would be, that one girl was trying to sell posters of herself dressed as a Rebel Pilot and was shut down for it by the Rebel Legion, which is associated with the 501st which is associated with LucasFilm and Star Wars. The 501st and Rebel Legion has a policy that costumers are not allowed to make a profit from their costumes if they are a part of that group, which the girl was. Its only a matter of time before any of these other copyrighted groups find out about these girls making and selling prints of copyrighted material and shut them down, ruining a nice hobby for everyone.
Not to mention, that half the time, the girls don’t credit their photographer, which leads into another set of problems.
These girls are ruining a beloved hobby by being greedy. They thrive off the attention and make money by the very group they are claiming to be a part of. Which is a big problem.
See the reason I love costuming, is because I love the idea that I can make the character I’ve read about come to life. I can pay homage to them. When I did my Witchblade photo shoot, it wasn’t to make prints of it and to make money off of it. It was to capture the costume that I worked hard on and share it with my friends or anybody else who was interested.
I can be honest here, I enjoy looking at the work that all these girls produce, who doesn’t? But I can’t stand how they exploit it. There are some actually pretty decent girls out there who make wonderful costumes, even sexy ones, who don’t market it out to make a cent. Or, if they do, its not to take advantage of the nerd boys. There are a handful of female costumers out there that make their living by making costumes and building props and will sometimes make prints and other memorabilia to sell, but they’re honest about it and they talk to their fans. They are not the ones to take issue with. The ones that have turned this hobby inside out are the ones who pretend they don’t when in reality, they do.
2009 was amazing, because it was the last time for a period of three years, that I went to San Diego Comic Con. I dressed up as Dani from Witchblade with my friend Ivy as Sara and we ran around the convention floor, goofing off, taking pictures and having fun. I hung out with other female costumers that weren’t trying to sell themselves, but just trying to have fun. That’s why it was amazing, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.