SMC Presents: Men in Cosplay

Men in Cosplay Title

Read all about what the Men in Cosplay have to say, and why they love doing what they do.

How did you get into cosplay? What are your reasons for continuing in this craft?

People dabbling in this hobby do it for a variety of reasons. Some love the challenge, some say they even find it relaxing, and sometimes it’s just about the experience;

” It is so rewarding to sit back at the end of a project and think “wow I built that with my own hands.” 
-Dorncosplay

“Cosplay is a thrilling experience. Whether it’s a hobby or a career, there is an unmatched sense of satisfaction and freedom that comes with it. Just the idea of being able to escape life in a [for the most part] safe and fun way is wonderful in itself.”
-KillerComa

I got into cosplay about 3 years ago. I made a Thor costume and I loved the process of making it, as soon as I got to the convention I knew I had found my tribe.”
-CraftSmithCosplay

 “Doing cosplay allows me to be closer to my daughters. I also find that it keeps me active. Im not just sitting around watching tv.” -Frankly.Odins.Beard

“I’ve always made costumes at Halloween for myself and others.  The actual cosplay aspect came from my daughter (3 at the time) when we went to Calgary expo. She said she wanted me to be Deadpool after seeing someone Cosplay it.  So I got a costume and we have been doing it together for 5 years now.  She has a lot of input for what our costumes should be.” -ARogueandHisLittleLady

“I had been following some of the most famous cosplayers for a couple of years; Jessica Nigri, Danquish, etc. Thinking that it would be something I’d like to do, I decided to buy a costume and “tick it off the list.” I went with a friend, and we had such an amazing time that when we got back, we started trying to make our own costumes. The first one I finished fell apart the moment I set foot in the convention and spent the rest of the day held together with safety pins, but the more I did the more I learned. Eventually I entered and won a competition at a local convention and qualified for the UK finals.”
-Ixtran

“The reason I stuck with this hobby takes a bit to explain. I have lived my whole life with severe anxiety and depression. When I first tried cosplaying it was incredible, a chance to be someone else and escape. It took a year after that initial experience to realize that cosplay wasn’t transforming me into a different person at all, it was simply giving me the confidence to be the real me. Because of Cosplay, I stopped hating myself for who I wasn’t and started loving myself for who I am. This is the reason I continue to Cosplay.”
-TreatzCosplay

Learning and growing more confident, meeting new friends and like minded fans, spending time with people you care about, or simply not wanting to disappoint followers: We all have something that drives us to Cosplay. But everyone can agree they come back to the craft for one thing; Because it’s fun!

In your opinion, what is an asset to being a male cosplayer?

We all know that Cosplay is not exclusive, it has no gender, age, body type, or social standing. Cosplayers come in all shapes, sizes, and gender, and there appears to be many benefits to each in the cosplay world.

The sheer number of characters you can choose from, getting into the role of a badass character, or just being someone or something else for a while. For most, it depends on the confidence of the person to become the character that really sells a costume, but what challenges must we face to achieve that? Anxieties of being photographed and judged by others? The expectation to project the body type/image of the character? Even acting and performance are critiqued by others in the community. It can be quite overwhelming! So if you happen to have an advantage or two, use it;

“An asset to being a male cosplayer. Ummm that’s a hard one… Abs? If you don’t have that be funny.” 
-Cosplay and Coffee

“Facial hair. It’s definitely a huge benefit not to have to wear a fake beard or draw one on.” 
-Nifftaku

“I think armor is a little easier for guys to fit into. [In my opinion] there aren’t as many “body complications” when building armor as with female cosplayers.”
-BattlebornCosplay

In your opinion, what is a difficulty of being a male cosplayer?

Altough there may be some “gender specific difficulties” the common answers seem to be the most obvious; Cosplay requires many different skill sets and, typically, within our society most boys grow up never learning about traditionally feminine skills like makeup or sewing. On top of that, there is also the never ending criticism all cosplayers face with body image and sterotyping, but let’s look at some of the gender-specific challenges;

I find the hardest art of being a male cosplayer is getting noticed.” -CraftSmithCosplay

“I think the male form is somewhat underappreciated in media in general, because most companies have this weird mentality when it comes to “marketable concepts.”
It’s really just inspiring to see cosplayers make cool stuff, and as a male role model it lets young boys know that they too can join in and not be ridiculed. Just because they are into arts and crafts doesn’t make them any less male. Also dancebelts are uncomfortable as heck to wear for 4 days straight…” 
-Riderbreak Cosplay

“One aspect of cosplay is that it is very visually based – without “sexy” content, the audience only really responds to professional quality photos and edits of costumes finished to a high standard. You also have to be continually providing this content to generate followers who want your work in their feed.” -Ixtran

“I find it is very difficult to build a chest piece for a female cosplayer as most of my building techniques involve sizing by holding pieces on my body. It can also be a little more difficult to build a fanbase as well, this could just be me though? “
-Dorncosplay

In fact, many male cosplayers feel “forgotten in the shadows” when compared to their female counterparts, but what exactly is causing this issue?

What are your thoughts on “sexy cosplay” and “crossplay/genderbends” in regards to men in the community?

“All of these cosplay styles are more than acceptable. Everyone is entitled to cosplay how they want to… of course it can be incredibly frustrating when you have spent a year creating a massive and complex armored suit with perfect accuracy, only to be overlooked because there is someone in lingerie to your left – but remember this isn’t the fault of the cosplayer [there is nothing wrong with sexy cosplay itself, more the lack of appreciation for other types of cosplay by the
audience]. Now crossplay and genderbends are some of the most creative costumes you’ll see, but it does open one to persecution. You need to have thick skin. Just know that those people will always find something to pass comment on – if it wasn’t your genderbend, it would be your body type, or that of the person next to you. Just surround yourself with positivity!
-Ixtran

“This is an all ages activity so a person doing a sexy cosplay should keep in mind that there will be under aged participants at these events. When making thier costume this should be kept in mind.” 
-Frankly.Odins.Beard

I definitely think that “sexy cosplay” is still a part of cosplay. There is still a lot of time and effort put in by the cosplayers- going to the gym to sculpt those muscles, dieting to look a certain way, [time put into the makeup, photoshoots, editing, etc] is overlooked a lot of time. I myself prefer to do armor cosplay, but I can appreciate the effort “sexy cosplayers” put in. I have no qualms against crossplay or genderbends myself. Technically my first armor is a crossplay, I did Undyne who is originally a female character.” Riderbreak Cosplay

“In terms of “sexy cosplay” I do believe there is a line. Once you stop portraying the character it doesn’t feel the same. Not to say that “sexy cosplays” aren’t cosplay, I just feel that if it’s taken too far, they can actually tarnish a character’s image. Every work and every character deserves to have respect of its own accord, and I think that “sexy” portrayals of some characters is actually damaging. In my personal opinion- as a closet manga artist- if someone made a “sexy” rendition of my characters, I would actually be bothered by it because that is not the image I wanted to create. If it suits the character I can understand, but I really think there should be a boundary. On the other hand I actually feel like I don’t see nearly enough crossplay and genderbends among males and I’d love to see more! It’s liberating and can really bring people out of their comfort zones. The way I see it, if you like the character, gender doesn’t matter! -KillerComa

“I have a few genderbends in the works myself. I know there are some people doing it for laughs, and some people doing it seriously.  If you and some guys are doing hairy manly sailor scouts for a chuckle. Please go ahead its amusing! But we’re all here to enjoy ourselves, make sure that it’s family friendly. [And if you are doing it seriously, it’s always a good idea to let people know who’s really under the makeup. It can be confusing sometimes and even end up causing hurtful scenarios or misunderstandings].
-Nifftaku

“I’m totally considering doing a male version of Wonder Woman! To be honest I think that “crossplay/genderbends” and “sexy cosplay” are awesome ideas! It expands on the typical cosplay and goes somewhere others may not have thought of. We’ve all wondered the alternate versions of certain characters, why deny anyone that ability to do that? [Same goes for race-swapping or mashups, it’s fun to see characters in new ways!]
-DinozzoCosplay

Crossplays/Genderbends are pretty cool in my opinion, I encourage it as it allows you to explore your personality to the fullest. [Trying out different characters while also connecting with different sides of yourself! You never know what friendships it might open you up to as well!] 
-DiamondHeartHero

Do you feel there is a lack of male presence in the community? If so, why do you think this is and how do you feel the community can address it?

Some feel there is a lack of male cosplayers in the community, while some feel the community is simply more female dominated. The ratio of female cosplayers combined with the ratio of male fans is steadily climbing and definitely seems to have an impact. What do you think?

“I [personally] don’t think there is a lack of male presence in the community. I have found the cosplay community to be incredibly diverse and accepting!”
-DornCosplay

“[To me] it’s just a number crunching thing. There are more female models/cosplayers in the community and a lot of share pages on Facebook and instagram are saturated by them. as for addressing it I don’t think you can change it to be honest. If you find out how, could you fill me in?”  -Cosplay and Coffee

I feel like there is a lack of focus on male cosplayers. Many of us seem to just get overshadowed by “sexy cosplays” and female cosplayers. -CraftSmith Cosplay

“I don’t feel there is a lack but more of a lack of interest. Females dominate the cosplay community because the fans of cosplay support them more [maybe]? It’s hard to name 3 “famous” male cosplayers but easy to name 15 female ones. Don’t get me wrong, the ladies are amazing too and deserve the respect and credit due to them, I only wish that some of the talent that lots of men have would be appreciated more.
ARogueandHisLittleLady

“I think some male cosplayers are often really shy, maybe? That largely attributes to how there isn’t as much focus on male cosplayers in the community, so they aren’t used to pushing themselves out there. I do what I can in my local cosplay groups and community to bring people together, but globally I think male cosplayers need better recognition for sure.” -Riderbreak Cosplay

“I think if more features, photographers, and conventions offer more opportunities for male cosplay, that could help immensely.” -DinozzoCosplay

“Actually, responding to the questions for this article gave me a positive boost, and reminds me that I’m not alone. I may not have millions of followers, but as a male cosplayer I am not without representation and acknowledgement. I think the best way to address this issue is more articles like this one and I hope it provides the readers with some insight.” -Ixtran

Is it the fault of cosplayers? Conventions? Social media? The answer is unclear and there appear to be many reasons why Men aren’t as prevalent in the community. Perhaps it’s all just a matter of each individual needing to do their part- push each other to do greater things, remind one another that we all make mistakes, and realize that we all have our insecurities. Just be mindful of each other!

What is your opinion on Cosplay Accuracy?
Do you feel pressured as a male cosplayer to have to: Shave hair on any body parts to fit a character? Cover tattoos? Apply makeup, contacts, etc to “fit” the character more?

“Yes! Rick O’Connell from the Mummy wears a certain style shirt that, although doesn’t expose the chest, does have the shirt open a little more than your typical polo. I did shave a little hair in that area because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but also to be as accurate as possible [but that’s just my personal viewpoint].
-DinozzoCosplay

“I like cosplay accuracy for myself personally. I’ll aim to grow more hair, sport a beard, even shave my headat times. I don’t usually cover my tattoos but I have coloured my hair.  This is how I feel though, I don’t think everyone should feel obligated to do so.”
ARogueandHisLittleLady

“I try to be as accurate as I can, but I dont expect anyone else to. I just like to really get into the role of the character I cosplay- the voice, actions, moves etc. I dont feel pressured to do it it is just something I do. For my darkness cosplay I shaved my whole body, other times I’ll leave my goatee even though the character has none. It just depends on what im cosplaying.” -BattleBornCosplay

“I’m really nit picky, so for me there is a lot of pressure to look right. I do everything I can to look exactly like a character. There could be just one time you look like rubbish because you didn’t get the contacts or makeup right and then the community kinda judges it to be the best you have to offer, which is ridiculous! Best advice to avoid that, work to your time line and don’t make promises to people about finishing an epic cosplay, it’s too stressful.” -Cosplay and Coffee

“Accuracy is fine. However, we are all individuals, some will come up with thier own ideas on how a cosplay should look. I’ve done many things to try and be as accurate as possible. In the end it comes down to how you feel about your cosplay.”
-Frankly.Odins.Beard

“I
NEVER take my piercings out for cosplays, to me it’s a way for others to identify me. I’m not skilled with makeup, so in most cases I end up just applying a small strip of eyeliner and maybe some foundation. I don’t think it should be necessary to try to match a character’s features exactly because not everyone is built the same. Most of my cosplays are large-built men, and I constantly struggle to work my way up to something even remotely close to that. I try to keep in mind that it’s not a necessity, and that everyone’s cosplays are wonderful no matter what your limitations are.”
-KillerComa

“Everyone should have the confidence to cosplay how they want.  I did allow myself to use cosplay as motivation to improve by body image –but for myself, not for others. It all comes back to how
you want to represent a character. A tattooed Disney prince could provide a refreshing image. There will always be pressure to represent characters perfectly in cosplay, but remember that the majority of this will come from the audience that are not themselves cosplayers, and don’t understand the creativity of the craft. Cosplay is an ART form, and cosplayers are artists. A painter will receive criticism when they display their work in a gallery, just as we do when we get creative with our cosplays – regardless, always do your best, be creative, and above all; do it for the fun, the love and the passion.” -Ixtran

“I’m really nit picky, so for me there is a lot of pressure to look right. I do everything I can to look exactly like a character. There could be just one time you look like rubbish because you didn’t get the contacts or makeup right and then the community kinda judges it to be the best you have to offer, which is ridiculous! Best advice to avoid that, work to your time line and don’t make promises to people about finishing an epic cosplay, it’s too stressful.”  -Cosplay and Coffee

“Accuracy is fine. However, we are all individuals, some will come up with thier own ideas on how a cosplay should look. I’ve done many things to try and be as accurate as possible. In the end it comes down to how you feel about your cosplay.”
-Frankly.Odins.Beard

“I
NEVER take my piercings out for cosplays, to me it’s a way for others to identify me. I’m not skilled with makeup, so in most cases I end up just applying a small strip of eyeliner and maybe some foundation. I don’t think it should be necessary to try to match a character’s features exactly because not everyone is built the same. Most of my cosplays are large-built men, and I constantly struggle to work my way up to something even remotely close to that. I try to keep in mind that it’s not a necessity, and that everyone’s cosplays are wonderful no matter what your limitations are.”
-KillerComa

“Everyone should have the confidence to cosplay how they want.  I did allow myself to use cosplay as motivation to improve by body image –but for myself, not for others. It all comes back to how
you want to represent a character. A tattooed Disney prince could provide a refreshing image. There will always be pressure to represent characters perfectly in cosplay, but remember that the majority of this will come from the audience that are not themselves cosplayers, and don’t understand the creativity of the craft. Cosplay is an ART form, and cosplayers are artists. A painter will receive criticism when they display their work in a gallery, just as we do when we get creative with our cosplays – regardless, always do your best, be creative, and above all; do it for the fun, the love and the passion.” -Ixtran

Have you ever had to deal with bullying in the cosplay community? If comfortable, please share with us!

We have all faced criticism when Cosplaying. Some use this “constructive feedback” in the community as motivation to better themselves into a more accurate representation of their character. Others simply alter the character to suit them better. Both are valuable and have their advantages, but there are those who find these social standards- and other people’s expectations- to be a double edged sword;

“Trolls are everywhere! Luckily, I’ve never been bullied, other than when I started cosplaying; a lot of people thought it was ‘gay’ but each to their own. I carried on and now they think I look pretty cool which is nice!”  -Cosplay and Coffee

“I haven’t had to deal with bullying inside the community, but some people outside the community don’t really understand and have been rude in their views on cosplaying.”
-CraftSmithCosplay

“I have a very recent story. It was at MCM London, I attended a Power Rangers meet as the Green Ranger. There was a wide range of costumes, all of a vastly differing quality. One person proceeded to single out and insult many of those attending- Making comments about how a male was cosplaying the pink ranger, criticizing those who had more expensive versions of the costumes, claiming original was best, it went on and on. I was asking the others where they got their helmets and how much they paid (I’m often on a tight budget and couldn’t afford to get a helmet cast, so I made my own from EVA foam) it looks perfect on a mannequin, but when worn it lacks the shape of a form fitting fiberglass cast.  I said as much while I spoke to the other Rangers, when this person felt the need to add- “I’m glad you said it. If you’d been bragging about how good your helmet looked I’d have said ‘Nah mate, it looks like sh-‘…” This kind of comment to someone who is already unhappy with the standard of their finished work could be really damaging, in the worst cases to the point where the victim might give up cosplaying all together [and sadly many have].”  -Ixtran

“Luckily, I have never been a victim to bullying, but I have seen it happen. Most instances however, it is a regular ‘muggle’ (non-cosplayer) who is doing the bullying. Judging a cosplayer’s costume based on body type or gender. Luckily each instance I witnessed had a happy ending, with every other cosplayer in the vicinity coming to the aid of our fellow brother or sister, using snappy one-liners to shoo off the culprit. There is usually more than enough positive reinforcement to rebuild any damaged self-esteem.”
-TreatzCosplay

“I personally feel with the rise of the cosplay hype, there has also risen alot of drama. It has become a form of popularity & fame competition, [but that has never been the point of cosplay] and so alot of bullying and harassment has followed this trend.”
-DiamondHeartHero


What advice do you have for other cosplayers about community bullying?

“There is always going to be someone comparing you to somone else or trying to take you down. But you know what, you woke up- looked at your cosplay when it was all on- and probably smiled. With every cosplay, you make others smile when they see it. I personally enjoy it, and yes I get ripped on from time to time, but don’t let it get to you and just have fun. Like Tay Tay says, the haters gonna hate hate hate. So enjoy your work and be you. Show them kindness and make them eat their own words.”
Nifftaku

“Look at the positivity that others say about you! If you have submission sites that post your photos on their sites for you, the positive comments always outweigh the negative. At least for me, one positive comment or share can beat out 10 bad ones.”
DinozzoCosplay

I cosplay to challenge myself, cosplay is meant for fun. Challenging yourself to see how far you can go and learning new things is fun! It is important to be with friends that feel the same. The journey, the new friends you’ll make, creating moments and memories, all these things are what “Cosplay” means to me. Forget the rest.”
-DiamondHeartHero

“Cosplay should be totally up to the cosplayer. There will always be people who suggest you should do this and that to look better, but it always comes down to how happy you are with what you have made. [Just enjoy what you do and don’t sweat the rest!]”
-Dorncosplay

If you are experiencing bullying in the cosplay community, speak out! Reach out to friends and family, or other cosplayers that you know and trust! No one should ever feel like they are less than anyone else for any reason. Cosplay is supposed to be something fun that everyone can enjoy! Don’t let things get to you, that’s the best way to battle bullies! If you are at a con, stand up for yourself in a firm but mature manner, if the person persists, walk away and tell authorities [or if it’s online, simply block and forget about it!]

Don’t waste time on immature or close-minded people. Just do you, surround yourself with positivity, and never let one [or even a few] people be the deciding factor in what you do with your life! It’s not that you have a problem, it’s simply that they just don’t understand how awesome cosplay is!

Men in Cosplay Article

Have you had to deal with sexual harassment as a male cosplayer? If you’re comfortable, please share!

It is a very common misconception, even in regular society, that women are the only ones who face sexual harrassment. In fact 1 in 21 men have faced some sort of unwanted sexual advance in their lifetime [from either gender] and those numbers are even higher to the point where in certain countries, men actually face these challenges more often than women.

So what about in the cosplay community?

“I’ve had my butt pinched at a convention once or twice, but I don’t know if it’s a big problem for male cosplayers?” 
-Riderbreak Cosplay

“There was one instance where a stranger sent me a message. He repeated the fact the he was, and I quote, “Not a gay, himself,” but then goes on to tell me that he stared at the crotch on my one costume for a long time and it made him think about, “things”… As an openly gay cosplayer, it just made me laugh. In his defense, the overall message was very sweet and complimentary, it was just kind of strange…”-TreatzCosplay

Most male cosplayers feel that they haven’t faced as many “Cosplay is not Consent” scenarios compared to their female counterparts, but it happens more often than we realize;

“Not sexual harrassment per se but definitely disrespectful nonetheless. Someone wanted to figure out a cosplay I was going to do so they could make a female partner to pair with me. It was less a collaboration and more their own initiative via photobombing. I ignored the lady at first, until she shone a lazer pointer in my eye just to grab my attention. She stopped when I gave her a glare, but I was very irritated.”
-DiamondHeartHero

To more common-

“Guys who tell me to stop talking to their girlfriends. That’s always a good laugh. We’re talking about cosplay ideas, not planning a date [people sometimes make assumptions about your intentions based on gender] but you do need to gauge situations a little bit. For example: when posing with a female.
[That being said] men can be uncomfortable as well in a situation. Always
ask before posing with anyone. Some people have different personal boundaries and don’t appreciate unwanted touching [from any gender].” -Nifftaku

To clearly innapropriate-

“I dealt with a terrible situation last summer at a convention.
I was misgendered by a member of convention staff- I had never been so offended by a con worker. I recently came out as male-identified, and have to face the struggle of working around the “inconveniences” of my born gender. I was cosplaying as a shirtless male character, (of course while wearing sufficient attire) and the convention staff member asked if my character was a genderbend. Then proceeded to state that it would look better if I were a male and that I shouldn’t bind my chest. I was very put off by the comment and had a hard time dealing with it.” 
-KillerComa

It goes to show that just because we don’t hear about a situation doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. Whether the case is minor or more severe, whether someone is male, female, or identified, regardless of what someone is wearing or what people around them may “think” is ok, the message remains the same:

COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT. PERIOD.
OR in this case; “Gender is not consent.”


What advice do you have for other male cosplayers dealing with sexual harassment?

“My advice for anyone dealing with similar online situations would be that the simplest solution is to block the individual and just try to forget about the event. If you need to, find someone you can talk to about it, it helps to get these unpleasant experiences off of your chest. Most importantly, don’t let the actions of a few influence your future costume choices! You could have the most modest of outfits or the most revealing, there is always a chance that someone will take a “compliment” too far.”-TreatzCosplay

“This goes for anyone. The first thing to do if you experience sexual harassment is to make someone aware. Alert convention staff, or authorities if necessary. It is always such a shame when it occurs, and the best thing to do is minimize the risk to others. Inform other con-goers of the suspected person and have them be on the alert. Tell them to report as well if they see or experience anything. As a community we must work together and emphasize the fact that COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT.” -KillerComa

“It’s ok to say no!
I think sometimes people don’t want to offend fans so they let them cross the line. Be strong and have rules before you go to con as to what your comfortable with. [Cosplayer or fan, we are all people and deserve respect]” 
-CosplayandCoffee

“Know where your own boundaries are, and let people know if you’re uncomfortable with something. No one has the right to tell you what or how you feel, and definitely nobody has the right to violate you or your space. It shouldn’t matter what your gender is, every human has the right to feel safe no matter what.” Riderbreak Cosplay

Men in Cosplay Article

Article and Interview by; Winterlights Cosplay
(@winterlightscos)

Photo by: @samechlin91

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