The change in the Cosplay community
How did the hobby turn toxic?
In 2007 when I got into this hobby, I was excited to enjoy a hobby that more then playing dress up, for the next ten years it would serve as something that helped me get out of my comfort zone, go to new places, make new friends, and become an important factor in keeping me busy through the rough times. But in the past years, I've noticed some dramatic changes to happen, that has made me retract from the community year by year. I still enjoy the costumes, and the transformation into a character, but the dramatics of the other individuals. I can't abide by it, nor endorse it. I've just continued to distance myself even though I miss the groups, and gatherings. I miss being able to ask a friend of mine what character they were going to dress up as for the convention weekend. Now I've not only grown apart from it, I've purposely limited my interactions and involvements. It's not just me that has noticed this, many individuals have experienced harsh toxicity in various cosplay groups. Why did a fun hobby turn hellish and more dramatic then a talk show? Now before I go on, an important disclaimer: this does not mean every cosplayer is toxic, heavens no. I personally know some amazing, humble, and kind people that are in the community that I am still close with. But there are some that have changed that I have witnessed first hand as well as some of my friends that have unfortunately experienced this change.
I would have titled this article "the change in the convention community", but this chaos of the hobby has reached out of the convention, into the territory of the internet as well as little gatherings. It would be better to title it as the hobby instead of the venue. But I will say that a good chunk of the drama does start in the conventions. I have to admit that piece of evidence to that statement.
I've noticed it's become a contest, not a comfort, not a camaraderie. There has been this unspoken trend that some cosplayers, "out-do" the other with cosplays of various characters that were done better. Or secluding the idea that someone cannot dress up as a character, making a ridiculous restriction. Equality or decency does not register to some of these cosplayers which makes me livid to treat it like a fish on hook to others.
Speaking of equality, the group problem is another issue I have to address. In my years of being a cosplayer, I have experienced this as well as known others to experience this. Remember that book by Dr. Seuss, The Sneeches? That is exactly how some cosplayers are treated, some that don't have stars, are not allowed in the group. In that moment that I have met someone in a cosplay gathering at a convention, I've gotten along with this said individual, then gotten Facebook information, possibly a phone number, then found that the same feelings of friendship did not transfer outside the convention. I remember this one moment I was friends with this one girl, I always initiated the conversation, it went on for about a year and a half. It wasn't until I got a message from this person, not in the interest of talking to me. But as an interest for her own benefit when she saw I had a professional photographer taking photos for me. That moment changed the equation for me. I had to start noticing this pattern. Friends and cosplay friends are the same. Initiative has to be on both sides, not everyone with the same interests can be friends. It's a harsh truth, but it's true. I used to go out of my way to meet up with some "friends" of mine at the conventions to find that I was tiring myself out to run to people that didn't feel the same as me. I was chasing after something that wasn't worth the energy. It's sad, and frustrating to see that, I have wasted half of my convention days trying and sometimes failing to see these people. When I came to this realization, I noticed who was worth my time, who would be willing to meet me halfway, someone that was more on my wavelength of introvert/extrovert. When I found my group that was more lax and resigned, it made a convention ten times a better experience then before. It takes time to find your tribe, but they are out there.
When I have discussed within a small circle of friends for their opinion on someone's attitude or personality without making it sound like I'm gossiping. I've received the same answer that I knew, but it's a hard truth of a transition. Most of the people I have loved to be around, with the arrogance that has become embedded in their personalities, it's become a self-centered nature. Almost like a vanity complex. It's become odd that it's rapidly happened so fast. One day they were a great friend to hang out with, next, they have become a person I have distanced myself from because I don't like who they have become. I will say some of it may have been from a personal problem and it somehow weaved into the hobby. But sometimes, it just a headstrong attitude in a stride for perfection that ends up having complications they don't see. It's reasonable, but not an excuse for someone to act in a sour and selfish attitude towards others.
Certain fandoms have almost become wars with each other when various groups fight over the littlest things and it almost becomes as vicious and insultingly opinionated like politics. It almost feels like there is no cease and desist or agree to disagree. Again, it feels like an unspoken rule like this is the way it has to be and there is no way around it.
The toxicity came out of nowhere. It takes away the friendships, the adventures, and the fun. In the years I was an active cosplayer, it makes me sad to see how sour it has become. Maybe it'll change, but in this current time, this is the present of the culture.