Cosplay is a hobby that was once in very few places — small conventions and gatherings, mostly. Over the years it has ballooned to the size it is now, and it's practically everywhere. From TV shows like Cosplay Melee to instructional YouTube tutorials, cosplayers are turning their hobby into a way to make a living. Cosplay is here to stay, and more and more people are discovering their love for making costumes, props, and special effects every day.
More and more conventions are popping up all over the place that feature cosplay as one of the main events. You can find panels, contests, and even wigs and costume pieces sold in the dealer's room. It is the easiest that it has ever been for beginners to delve into this fascinating hobby. This is excellent!
However, for all of the amazing joys that cosplay can bring to your life, there are some things that everyone wishes they didn't have to deal with. If you are a cosplayer, you may relate to some of these as well! Cosplay can be a rollercoaster sometimes. It's both a hobby that you pour your lifeblood into, and one that can also frustrate the hell out of you. It can be very rewarding, but sometimes you need to struggle for a bit first.
Collected below are a lot of annoying little nuances that have been taken from my own cosplay experience and others' as well. Being a cosplayer isn't easy, so here are the 15 worst things about being a cosplayer...
15 Non-Cosplayers Will Tell You What's Wrong With Your Cosplay
Okay, not everyone can sew, or paint props, or style wigs, I get that. But, if you're not even IN the community and don't know much about costume construction, to begin with...why are you offering criticism? You'll hear comments like, "Well, I don't sew but...I think you used the wrong fabric." Okay OP, if you don't sew then how would you even know?
It's really disrespectful in my opinion to give criticism when it isn't asked for. Sure, people post photos of their costumes and sometimes ask for critique, but photos are by no means an open forum to pick apart someone's costume. ESPECIALLY if you've never made one yourself, that's just not fair.
14 People HATE That Cosplayers Make Money
I have no issue with choosing to monetize your cosplay as long as you don't lose your passion and love for the hobby along the way. Full disclosure: I myself have a Patreon and a print store. Some people see cosplay exclusively as just a hobby, and this is perfectly fine!
What isn't okay is judging others for what sort of cosplay they decide to do, or what sorts of ways they choose to make money off of it. You wouldn't judge someone who makes art for charging for their services, why would you judge a commissioner for making cosplay props and pieces and then selling them? Demonizing money making is another way to further divide the community.
13 Doing ANYTHING Wearing A Big Cosplay SUCKS
We toil for long hours, we spend so much time getting every detail right. Finally...the day of the convention has finally arrived! After spending several hours putting the blasted cosplay on, now you have to maneuver your way around the con in it. Won't that be fun? This is why it's always good to have a handler. A good friend or a significant other who doesn't mind holding your bags for pictures or even helping you walk.
Sadly, you don't always have someone around to help you out. That's when things get tricky. Eating, walking, and don't even mention trying to go to the bathroom in a corset, or even a full set of armor, or a costume where your vision is limited because it pretty much engulfs you. Your hard work on this fantastic costume, unfortunately, makes it hard to do much of anything else, but hey, suffer for your art!
12 People Take Pictures When You're Not Ready
Unfortunately, this is unavoidable. It's good manners and a respectful thing to do to ask any cosplayer before you take a picture of them. Of course, cosplayers are aware that they will be photographed and video taped at any convention or cosplay related event. However, wouldn't you like to have a nicely posed photograph with them ready and smiling (or scowling, depending on their character)?
My rule of thumb, unless the person agrees to the photo or is already posed (like standing in a group while people come up and take photos)... don't take it! This is one of my biggest cosplay pet peeves. I will gladly stop and put back on any pieces of my costume I've taken off, pose nicely, and you can snap the photo. It's not that hard! Also, I'm pretty sure you don't want a photo of me shoveling chicken nuggets into my mouth...
11 Your Wallet Will Cry No Matter How Simple The Cosplay Is
Most people outside the community will assume cosplayers pay less money because they make their own cosplays. HA. HA. HA. Nope! If anything, we pay way more to make our own cosplays than to buy. Usually bought cosplays run the gamut from $40 to $100+. Now, buying your cosplay doesn't make you any less of a cosplayer, but you will likely spend less money since you don't have to make anything.
The good thing about making your own cosplay (or having someone make it for you) is you can control the quality and make things the way you want. Unfortunately fabric, worbla, makeup, etc... are all not cheap, not in the least. Those little things add up quickly!
10 You Will Get Injured Making Cosplay
Whether it's a hot glue burn, a cut from a box cutter, or stabbing yourself with a needle while hand sewing... you're bound to accumulate a few craft-related war wounds in the name of cosplay. I remember while sewing my Widowmaker bunny suit (I used stretch vinyl, so thick because it had a lining and tricky to work with) I stabbed myself so many times my fingertips ached. I also ended up drawing blood a few times...eeek.
I've definitely been burned by a hot glue gun more times than I'd like to count too. My Nebby plush I made by hand was all hot glued... so many burns... so little feeling in my fingers... I mean, you'll probably be wearing gloves or something anyway, so I guess it'll be okay for photos???
9 You Get Compared With Cosplayers Who Made The Same Costume
This is one of the ones that annoys me the most. Compliments are wonderful, everyone likes their work to be appreciated and praised. However, backhanded compliments often come in the form of comparing one cosplayer to another. For example, you see someone else in a Juliet Starling cosplay. You walk up to them and say, "Wow! You did that way better than Jessica Nigri." Although Jess herself is a talented seamstress and propmaker, no one likes to be compared to someone else.
In addition, there's also the flip side of the coin. "Yaya Han did that way better!" Someone says. Not cool at all. Cosplay is not a competition, no matter what the community may make it out to be at times. We are all learning, growing, and honing our skills, all while having fun. Choose words wisely when paying a compliment!
8 The Cosplay Community Can Be Toxic
I've been cosplaying since 2013, but have been interested in cosplay since 2011. I'd been hanging out in the community until finally deciding to dip my toes in the water and try it for myself. I've seen two sides to the community. The beautiful, inspiring, happy side that I absolutely love, and the ugly, gritty side where sexism, racism, and general negativity and drama tend to breed.
The community has had its share of scandals, but nothing it can't bounce back from. I've unfortunately had to see many friends leave due to stress, harassment, and numerous other reasons that make me sad. I want the community to be a better place, for people to feel welcome, and safe, and free to be themselves. There's a lot of work to be done, that's for sure, but nothing that isn't worth doing.
7 Cosplay Bullying And Harassment Can Happen
It happens all the time. There's even a slogan in the community, the "Cosplay Is Not Consent" policy. Some cosplayers also find themselves getting into fights on twitter. Harassment and bullying are rampant. Of course, it's one that many people are trying to fight against and eliminate. Interestingly enough a lot of this harassment comes from people who regularly engage with cosplayers, but are not part of the community themselves.
I myself try to be an advocate for positivity and acceptance but I am always asking myself, "What more can I do?" Obviously, issues like this will not be fixed overnight, but I see people making numerous strides towards that, including speaking up for what's right, and it makes me proud to be a member of this community.
6 Something ALWAYS Goes Wrong Last Minute
We've all done it. Procrastination. We call it "con crunch" in the cosplay community. It's the dark side to be sure. 4 am, chugging coffee, sewing frantically, praying this costume comes together. It's not a great place to be. Bonus points for hauling your sewing machine or whatever materials you need WITH YOU to the con! Hotel room crafting is another level of con crunch.
There's even another layer to this terribly scary cosplay crunch cake. Con room floor repairs! Usually when you're doing something last minute things don't often stay together, so you bring your supplies with you in a bag or even (as I've seen pretty cleverly done) tucked into the actual cosplay. Con crunch in itself is an art!
5 People Lose Their Way In Pursuit Of Fame
Unfortunately, you see this all the time. Friendships are abandoned, people talk behind each others' backs, and drama begins. Cosplay is very different now from the way it was ten years ago. 2012/2013 marked a pretty distinct shift in how the cosplay community came to be viewed. The premiere of the show Heroes of Cosplay was one of the main factors that introduced cosplay to a more mainstream audience.
There are a lot of people in the community who have lost themselves along the way in pursuit of "Cosfame" as people have termed it. There is nothing wrong with, for example, wanting to turn a profit from cosplay, that's totally fine. What's not okay is completely ditching your friends, changing your entire personality and look, all in the pursuit of fame. It's upsetting that some people lose their passion and spirit for cosplay because of that.
4 Idiots Will Ask If You Can Do It For Free (Or Next To Nothing)
Yes, people try to offer commissioners surprisingly low amounts of money for high-quality cosplay work because they don't want to pay. Or, they don't realize that with a commissioned garment, prop, or wig, you're paying for all of the time, the cost of the supplies, the actual product, and more. All of these factors go in to calculating the cost of a particular piece of a cosplay that someone makes for you.
It's even more offensive when people ask commissioners to work for free. Even if you are commissioning a friend you should still pay them unless they are kind enough to offer to make the garment for you for free, or better yet, help you make it so that you can learn from them! Pay your commissioners well and respect their pricing!
3 Hotel Room Drama Can Be A Nightmare
As if hotels weren't expensive enough, couple that with trying to split the costs with several friends. Some don't pay up front, some don't bring enough money to the con...or even worse yet spend it all irresponsibly in the dealer's room leaving no pay for you. These kinds of situations are tricky, and relationships can grind to a halt because of them.
Also, consider several cosplayers sharing a hotel room, space is pretty minimal. What with costume pieces, wigs, makeup, and large prop pieces splayed out, there's really not much room to maneuver at all. Plus, cramped quarters make for cranky people. And if your friends like to bring their friends to drink in the hotel room when you want to sleep? Even worse! Always discuss and plan these things in advance.
2 People Always Have An Opinion
Okay, everyone hates drama, sure. A lot of the things that crop up in the community seem like minor little annoyances. Little he said, she said things, drama between cosplayers, at conventions, et cetera. Cosplay will never be a drama free hobby, unfortunately, just like any others out there. What I don't like is when things get blown totally out of proportion, and people leap at each others' throats without knowing the whole story.
Asking people to sit around a fire and sing happy songs together is a longshot, I get that. However, there are more mature ways to deal with drama than shouting online. Social media makes all drama worse and exacerbates it. That's a proven fact. Until people can talk one on one, civilly, and in private without getting a ton of other people involved, it's not going to get any better.
1 Cosplay Is STRESSFUL
This hobby really takes a lot out of you in the sense that it takes a lot of time and energy to make cosplay. Even more so to go to conventions and walk around all day. I will forever love and want to do cosplay, but the worst moments are the ones where I am so stressed I want to ball my cosplay up and chuck it in the garbage. Where I sewed my bodysuit two sizes too big, or the glue I used is wrong, and my materials aren't sticking together... those types of situations.
Cosplay requires a significant amount of hard work, time management, and budgeting. It requires you to pay attention to detail and be fastidious, while also moving out of your comfort zone at times and trying new things. That part I don't hate. When the stress gets to be too much, just take a break and come back to your cosplay crafting with renewed vigor! Good. Luck.