[Any screenshots shown in this post will remain anonymous]
As a female cosplayer, I can offer some first hand insight into what it’s like to be a content creator in a largely male-orientated community.
A lot of my online interactions are positive. However, as I discovered in my interview with Lee Bradley, every craft has negativity.
Harassment may sound like a strong word to use. However, if someone makes me feel uncomfortable, I would generally call it sexism, harassment – or both.
Admittedly, without social media I would have nowhere to share my craft. This does not mean I post on my Instagram to gain sexual attention, I do it because I’m proud of my work and want to connect with like-minded people.
This handy guide will show the dos and don’ts when contacting cosplayers to compliment their work.
‘Why are you not replying?’
If I’m not replying to your message, the chances are that what you sent me made me uncomfortable. Believe it or not, spamming me with more messages does not make me any more likely to reply.
This particular keen follower is not one of mine. But imagine receiving those messages! I personally don’t know anybody who would read that and think ‘yeah I’m sure you just want my picture for something harmless!’
Everything in this post leads me back to ‘think before you send.’ There’s nothing wrong with appreciating a cosplay, but we’re people too, and obsessive messaging is WEIRD!
People can also be known to take it too far. Naturally, when you feel as though somebody has made you uncomfortable, you block their account.
In my opinion, no cosplayer (or anyone for that matter) should ever have to justify blocking someone, but this man took his blocking very personally. He decided it was necessary to take it to email.
To offer some context here: this email was received by a friend of mine after this man sent her repeated messages, insisting that he meets her at a comic convention.
Eventually feeling very uncomfortable about the situation, and not wanting to see him in person, she blocked him – seems justified right?
The moral of this story: spamming with constant messages will not make the person on the receiving end reply.
‘I’m in Love’
There is nothing wrong with complimenting a cosplayer. Personally, I love receiving nice messages about my posts, but there are people who make it very bitter-sweet.
This may not seem so bad, but it’s very easy to think that until you’re the person in the situation.
No, this did not insult me, but at the same time it didn’t give me that happy feeling that I get from genuine compliments.
This message came to me out of the blue, and confused me more than anything…
A personal favourite of mine. This account commented on one of my posts saying that they were just starting out in cosplay. Naturally, I replied saying that if they wanted any advice, they were welcome to message me.
This was the result… Now that really did creep me out.
Finally, there’s this – which is quite self-explanatory.
Why would anyone think that comment is necessary? Spoiler alert: it’s not.
I’ll keep this one plain and simple. I’m not your girlfriend, so you don’t need to call me ‘babe,’ ‘love,’ or anything alike.
Without ‘babe’ there wouldn’t be a problem with this comment!
There are definitely some repeat offenders when it comes to pet names.
Anyone else get Wicked Witch of the West ‘hello my pretty,’ vibes from this?
Full disclosure: ‘sweetie,’ and ‘hun,’ I find to be the most patronising pet names out of the lot.
Words cannot describe how much I hate that people think it’s appropriate to address me as if they’re in a relationship with me…
The whole concept of calling cosplayers by pet names is unnecessary. Just compliment them in a friendly way, why does it have to be romanticised?
Always look on the bright side
I may have done a lot of complaining, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t receive any nice comments or messages.
It’s only a small percentage of people that make myself, and other cosplayers, uncomfortable but largely it’s a really supportive community.
To receive this sort of feedback is amazing, and it’s what really makes cosplayers want to keep producing content.
I’ve met some amazing people through cosplay, and it’s a shame that sometimes people’s comments can have negative impacts on us – but that’s the power of social media.
What social media has really done is amplify what was already happening at convention where cosplayers are present.
I’ve dealt with all sorts of harassment at comic cons – from being obnoxiously quizzed about the character I’m dressed as (which I find insulting), to being picked up and spun around without permission.
Whether it’s online or in person, if people could think before they act, it would make these environments for cosplayers a lot less toxic or even intimidating.