Cosplaying, or “costume playing”, is the art of dressing up and imitating a character from a comic book, manga, anime, movie, or other media. A cosplayer will typically buy or create a costume to wear for photoshoots, comic and anime conventions, and various other events.
Sexism in cosplay is a relatively unknown topic to the general public. While many males are forgiven for relative unattractiveness and/or poor costume design, females are thrown into the spotlight whether they like it or not. When a female is unattractive, she is ridiculed and shamed both in person and on the Internet. When a female is attractive and fits her costume well, she is told she is “fake”, not a true fan, and is cosplaying simply for the attention it brings her from male admirers. She is often verbally harassed. Shouldn’t women be able to dress up as the character without the backlash?
In recent news, comic book artist Tony Harris pushes this agenda by emphasizing that most girls don’t know anything about the comic book community and should not be cosplaying at all. At New York’s 2012 Comic Con, Mandy Caruso was verbally harassed in a public interview while dressed up as Marvel Comic’s Black Cat. Incidents of harassment, abuse, and plain shaming have escalated as comic conventions and cosplaying become more and more popular.
I personally planned to dress up as a character from the manga/anime Sailor Moon with one of my best friends for the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, but a friend convinced both of us to choose other costumes because of such misogynist views. Sailor Scouts wear revealing outfits that are often sexualized in media, which would bring us much unwanted attention during the convention. I have wanted to cosplay as Sailor Saturn, one of Sailor Moon’s sidekicks, for many years, yet am unable to because I don’t want to be harassed and perhaps ridiculed if I don’t resemble the character.
In this blog, I plan to document various incidents, opinions, and photos related to the topic of sexism in cosplay. I will interview amateur and professional cosplayers for their views on this. I also plan to interview people who are unfamiliar with the community in order to find out more mainstream views. Upcoming anime conventions include San Francisco’s Animation on Display in February and Sac-Con in March. I hope to attend at least one of them.