Should restrictions be put in place to target the trend on the Sexualization of Cosplay
When did cosplay become ‘too sexy’? Nowadays you can’t even browse cosplay photos without someone making a derogatory comment about the standard of someone’s cosplay because their breasts or abs are on show. What people don’t seem to understand is that the cosplay community is changing, it’s rapidly expanding and growing and with all things that gain popularity rules and regulations are required to try and keep everyone happy. Conventions like PAX and Anime Boston have regulations on ‘skimpy’ cosplays and can ask attendees to change their attire if they deem it inappropriate and eventually other events shall follow suit. Most popular conventions are targeted at the general public and promote a family environment, therefore obscene nudity and things that may not be considered appropriate for younger children are banned, but the rules concerning ‘skimpy’ cosplays are increasing to the point where even Slave Leia will be banned.
Event organizers would be foolish to not acknowledge that there is a new style of cosplay in which cosplayers work harder to achieve amazing bodies and cosplay characters who do not wear an awful lot of clothing but that isn’t the cosplayer’s fault. Videogame and anime characters are famously oversexualized with unrealistic proportions and scantily clad outfits, and if you see one of those characters and decide to cosplay it why should you judged as any less of a cosplayer than someone covered from neck to ankle? I know of a lot of cosplayers who spend just as much time and effort on their ‘skimpy’ cosplays as those who are ‘fully clothed’ and their work is immediately disregarded simply because people see a little too much skin.
It has become a current trend to take a character and give them more sex appeal, usually through changing the character’s gender or creating an alternative outfit that is more ‘sexy’ than the character’s original design. Due to the increasing fame of cosplayers like Jessica Nigri these cosplays have become quite a common feature for most conventions. Like any trend it has its supporters and opposition, people state that these cosplays are ‘ruining cosplay’ and ‘take all the attention away from those who worked hard on their costumes’. A lot of the opposition seems to be directed at the female cosplayers who expose too much flesh since I’m yet to see anyone against a Free! cosplayer in nothing but swimming shorts. It is true that those in a revealing cosplay are more likely to get attention from photographers and other attendees, and I understand that cosplayers can play on this but I wouldn’t necessarily blame the cosplayer. If there was no audience for this trend it would have died out before it even started, but photographers and cosplayers who try to make a living off their hobby know that at the moment especially, sex appeal sells. The sexualization trend is nothing more than a passing trend, just like how gender-bending was a trend a few years back, eventually, a new thing is going to come along with new people supporting it and new people opposing it and this whole war on sexualization will be forgotten.
For me a major issue that has increased with the popularity of ‘sexy’ cosplays is the number of people admitting to being harassed at conventions. I have read far too many stories about people assuming simply because someone has a revealing cosplay you can treat them like a doll. I’ve seen friends of mine being harassed and groped by other attendees just because their abs and boobs are out. Incidents such as these occur so often now that the ‘Cosplay is not Consent’ movement has taken centre stage. It saddens me that as a community we need movements like these so that cosplayers can feel safe attending conventions. However, as previously stated, when something gains popularity rules are needed to keep everyone in place. Unfortunately some people need to be reminded that just because someone has shown up as Yoko from Guren Lagann or Dante from Devil May Cry does not mean that you can touch them however you like.
In my opinion the whole ‘hating on people who do sexy cosplay’ thing is just silly. A lot of these cosplayers work hard
on their costumes and work even harder on staying in shape and doing their makeup perfectly for it just like everyone else, so who are you to tell them simply because there is sex appeal their work is worth less than yours? When the next trend comes along it’ll have its negative points and positive points and all we can do adapt to it. As far as restrictions are concerned, the line between skimpy and inappropriate is a little blurry, if regulations are to be put in place at more conventions then there needs to be a set guideline on what qualifies as ‘skimpy’.
At the end of the day we’re all in the same boat, we’re all people trying to express our love for certain fictional characters in many different ways and it makes no sense to attack people within our own community. If you don’t like sexualized cosplays that’s up to you, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but please don’t spread needless hate. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and our own way of doing things so don’t judge a person just because they want to do something different to the way it was done before. As a creative community we should both support the creativity of these cosplays and offer constructive criticism rather than ‘You only get attention because of bewbs’. So if you take anything from my article just try and appreciate that the people you’re judging are people like you too, the comments you leave and hate you give simply because they’re showing skin is like someone leaving negative comments for no reason on your own cosplay and that’s not the sort of community I’d like to be a part of.
By Paige Dolan (IzZyBOOM! Cosplay)
Aki-Chan Cosplay – https://www.facebook.com/AkiChanu?fref=ts
Jessica Nigri- https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJessicaNigri?fref=ts
Aubergenius Cosplay- https://www.facebook.com/Aubergenius?ref=ts&fref=ts
Torrent Photography- https://www.facebook.com/photographicbt?fref=ts
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Writer / Cosplayer from the UK.