I’ve been sitting on this blog for some time now, collecting my thoughts and waiting for the moment that it felt right to share. Now feels like the right time.
It may seem a bit melodramatic, but I feel that the community I love is tearing itself apart while I watch from the sidelines. This is the community that welcomed me with open arms eight years ago, without reservations or judgment. And it pains me to see the turmoil it’s in.
I’m not going to touch on any specifics of Heroes of Cosplay. The show has been dissected every which way already, and ultimately it played catalyst to a larger, more concerning issue. So instead of adding to these debates, I want share a life motto that’s been acting as my moral compass for several years now.
I’m lucky that my job and hobby have afforded me some incredible life experiences, thanks to a lot of hard work and faith invested in me by others. You may not be aware, however, that I’ve also dealt with quite a few hardships in my 28 years, which I bleakly refer to as the “d-suite” - death, depression, divorce, discrimination, and even disownment. And these experiences took their toll. Some of the darker periods in my life lasted years, and during that time I was spiteful and cynical because it was easier than allowing myself to feel the pain, or risk being hurt again. Trust and forgiveness were precious commodities.
Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I see that darkness lurking in the periphery of my vision. It tries to creep back into my consciousness and color how I look at the world once more. I’ve fought it off time and time again, though, because I’ve found my center. My center tells me to take the things that get me down, and take the hardships I encounter, and to reinforce the opposite in my daily life. It tells me this:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Loosely derived from quote by Mahatma Gandhi, these words have armed me with the weapon I needed to stay my current course. Yes, it’s idealistic. I know that. Taking a vow of nonviolence won’t stop senseless massacres, and being courteous online will do little to change the culture of Internet abuse. But living by this motto empowers me to inspire and influence others on a small scale, and all change starts small.
If you think the world is full of greed, then give freely.If you find it full of hubris, then be humble. If you feel it full of hate, then fill your days with whatever inspires you to love more deeply. If all you see is indifference, then be compassionate.
This motto influences every aspect of who I am, from my career to my passions. When met with disreputable behavior at an industry event, I resolve to be even more professional in the future, and in how I work to rectify said situation. When trolls try their hardest to hurt me through coordinated online attacks, I kill them with kindness and maturity. (I’ve converted more than a few, surprisingly.) And when I see the hobby I love hurting, I work even harder to highlight what an incredible force for positivity and inspiration it can be.
None of these examples come seeded with judgment. I’m not speaking to any specific person or specific argument in this online debate. I’m seeing anger, arrogance, and accusations being lobbed back and forth from every which way, and it pains me, quite literally, because I care so incredibly much.
So if you feel that cosplay is starting to feel exclusionary, then welcome others to the fold with even more enthusiasm. You have the opportunity to be that first positive experience that sets the hook for someone in this hobby.
If you feel cosplay is becoming too serious, then be goofy. Have fun. Laugh without reservation. Be the best genderbent Street Fighter/Gundam crossover cosplayer you can be. (Extra points if it is made from cardboard.)
There is no absolute truth for what is and isn’t good for our hobby. Taking a stand on one subject may cause others to react conversely, per their own values. And that is just fine. To each their own, as long as we keep the conversation civil. Our hobby will never be homogenous. And why would we want it to be? Diversity is one of the things that keeps cosplay beautiful.
Ultimately, actions always speak louder than words. We can discuss and dissect what we’d like the future of cosplay to be, and there is merit in that conversation. But being that change – living that change – makes waves. So be respectful. Be professional. Be kind. But also remember to be the change that you want to see in this world. Don’t just talk about it. You never know who is watching and whom you will inspire. So make your actions count.
Did you use Worbla in making some of the things for your costume?
Yes! I use Worbla quite frequently now. I used to work primarily with Wonderflex, but find it less versatile because of the mesh inside. Worbla is quite forgiving and can be heated and moulded into a variety of shapes.
I usually get mine from Yaya Han’s store - she’s out at the moment, but check back when she restocks!
Do you think it would be difficult to get in to your line of work (either journalism/communication) in the video games industry with a somewhat "alternative" look, i.e unnaturally colored hair, stretched ears etc (nothing TOO extreme)? Do you feel there's a lot of bias towards people who aren't as "professionally presented"? Thanks!
I actually don’t feel that way about the game industry at all! Walking through studios, or show floors at industry events, you’ll see people present themselves in a wide array of ways. In my experience you’ll get more flack for wearing a suit than for having gauged ears. Personality and passion go a long way in creative fields like ours. :)
Have you ever toyed with the idea of using a 3D printer in your Cosplay designs? They are starting to become more and more popular and provide the ability to make small, detailed items. Just a thought! If you find this intriguing, I can point you to a few resources.
I have, actually! A couple of my friends own 3D printers and I’d love to give it a shot. I usually try to learn a new skill with each project I work on. As such I need to give myself a bit of time to learn the basics of SolidWorks before trying to print something out!