Dear New York Post: Let's Talk About Cosplay

By Hsing Tseng on August 7, 2013

Cosplayer Yaya Han is well-known, but to call her a “the go-to authority” and “a legend,” is a bit of an exaggeration. Photo from her Facebook page.

Dear New York Post writer Linda Stasi:

Your recent review of the upcoming SyFy reality show “Heroes of Cosplay,” had a few inaccuracies in it, to say the least. By portraying the cosplay community as though we are “confused” and “weird,” your piece, rooted in many false generalizations, has angered a great many cosplayers across the U.S. and contributed to the way that society looks down upon them as abnormal for pursuing their hobby.

As a journalist who writes on cosplay and participates in the activity, I’m here to shed some light on the subject.

Cosplaying isn’t always expensive. Yes, cosplay can be time-consuming and expensive for those that have the resources, but a lot of cosplayers pull a costume together from thrift stores and unwanted items, recyclables, and more. Some don’t have the money, time, or skill to make costumes on our own, and that’s perfectly fine. To portray cosplay as an extraordinarily expensive, extravagant hobby though, is a falsehood.

Trust me, cosplayers make a living. You state, “We aren’t given any in-depth knowledge about what these folks do to earn a living in the real world that enables them to spend every waking hour and dime on making costumes.” Newsflash – cosplayers are real people too, with real lives and real jobs. I know cosplayers that work all day in retail, at office jobs, in school, and spend nights and weekends working on costumes. Let’s talk about the devotion it takes to work a job and make a living while still making costumes, instead of demeaning cosplayers as though they live in a fantasy world.

There are also cosplayers who make a living from costume commissions, and Yaya Han, whom you mentioned in your piece, runs one of THE foremost cosplay businesses in the country from selling Worbla for armor making and prints of her cosplays. Perhaps you overlooked that in your research?

Yaya Han isn’t THE go-to authority. Don’t get me wrong, Yaya Han is on my list of cosplayers that I admire strongly. I love what she does for the cosplay community in sharing all her tips and expertise with others and attending conventions and meeting as many fans as she can, but there is no “legend” in the cosplay community. However, Yaya Han has more experience and money than most cosplayers do, so of course her cosplays are going to have better results than many other cosplayers. Also, raising one cosplayer up above the others, especially the other cast members of the SyFy TV show you reviewed, is demeaning to all the other cosplayers and completely biased.

Hideyo Mochimo as Rancis, myself as Vanellope. I pieced together this costume with a tight budget. Photo by TofuSnow Cosplay Photography.

We don’t want to become our characters. Cosplayers aren’t delusional, they can recognize that fictional characters are just that – fictional. While it’s fun to dress up and get in character, cosplayers are actors at their core, like the character actors you might find in Disneyworld. Like any actor, a cosplayer knows the line between reality and fiction, but conventions make it fun to put on a different persona for a day.

Cosplay isn’t all competitions. While the SyFy show may focus on the side of cosplay that’s competitive, most cosplayers don’t participate in competitions and choose to cosplay just for fun and to express their love for characters while showcasing their crafting and modelling skills. Of course, some cosplayers love competitions and getting public recognition for their work as a part of their convention experience, but it’s all up to the individual, which leads me to…

Cosplay is an art form. I’ve said this many times, and will continue to say it; cosplay is an art form that deserve appreciation, not ridicule. No one criticizes people for dressing up on Halloween, but somehow cosplayers are targeted as weird and out of the ordinary, an attitude which your piece perpetuates.

So dear Linda Stasi, we cosplayers are not “confused.” “All of it is weird,” you say, but I respond with, “none of this is weird.” We’re just nerds who like to make costumes, dress up, and have fun.

So from one journalist to another, next time, please do your research and refrain from making personal judgments on a hobby about which you clearly know nothing.


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