Last month my other-half and I took my stepson to the GEEK event in Margate, a weekend dedicated to celebrating games and play. Two people were chatting my the exit as we were leaving at end of the day and as we passed, we heard one of them say:
Cosplay is for skinny girls. It’s basically dressing up and they don’t make costumes for fat girls.
Ethan started getting into cosplay just over a year ago, ever since we took him to his first MCM Comic Con in London and he was amazed by all the costumes. His ears therefore pricked up when he heard this discussion so it was important to set the record straight as quickly as possible: I told him that what had been said was ‘a load of rubbish’ and that cosplay is an activity for everyone.
What this person had announced really annoyed me, both as an individual and as a member of the community. This was no kind of message to be sharing at an event which promotes itself as being family-friendly. Any child could have been passing by while the conversation was taking place; and unfortunately for me it was my stepson, a young kid who’s already starting to struggle with body-confidence issues and fears about his size.
In addition to the weight reference, why direct it at ‘skinny girls’ and not ‘skinny people’? Was the implication that cosplay is for females only or that boys can do it regardless of their body-shape? In actual fact, it doesn’t really matter because both views are damaging. And that’s not to mention incorrect – the community is one of the most inclusive I’ve come across in all my years of blogging.
Now for the bit about them ‘not making costumes for fat girls’. Yes, it’s possible to buy your outfit fully made and complete with accessories; but a large section of the cosplay community makes all or part of their costumes themselves. It therefore follows that you can create whatever you want to – and there were workshops at GEEK for attendees who wanted to learn how to get started.
Perhaps the most depressing thing about overhearing the conversation was that both of the individuals having it were female. Was it a case that the woman from whom the quote above had come had been made to feel so self-conscious about her body in the past, that she now thought the entire world of cosplay was withheld from her? Or was she showing some kind of hostility towards others of her sex in an act of competition?
Both still happen far too often. You’d think that in 2017 we’d have finally learnt to be more accepting of people regardless of their size, shape or sex – or anything else for that matter – but sadly that’s not the case. Diversity should be a thing that’s celebrated, not something that’s ridiculed or used as ammunition.
Many cosplayers base their costumes on video game characters and we have such a wide range to take inspiration from. When I was a kid, all we had was Chun-Li (could be worse) to pointy-boobed Lara Croft (a lot worse). Diversity is everywhere in the gaming world today: just look at Tracer from Overwatch, Cremesius Acclasi from Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Vella Tartine from Broken Age. And that’s just for starters.
Let’s point out before wrapping up this post that it in no way should be taken as a comment on the event itself: I applaud GEEK’s organisers for making it as inclusive and as family-friendly as it was. That quote at the start was the view of one person, but there’s something I’d like to say in response.
Cosplay isn’t just for skinny girls – it’s an activity for absolutely everyone. You can be damn sure I’m going to have a great time doing it at Kitacon in August. And that’s regardless of whether you care to look at my wobbly bits encased in lycra or not.