Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Costuming and Tact

I am a nerd, I have a lot of friends who are nerds.  I know many people in the Cosplay community.  (for those of you unfamiliar with the term; Cosplay is dressing up in the costume of a favorite character or a type of character, usually for an event like Comic Con)  Cosplay can be a lot of fun.  At its heart it is about expressing your love of something and having a good time.  A lot of people do it really well, so therefore people want to take pictures.  Here are some simple rules to follow, that should really be common sense, that should be used when photographing at an event.

Two Cosplayers, alike in dignity...

Make SURE that before you take that picture, you have the permission of the Cosplayer to take their picture.  Most Cosplayers expect that they will be asked to have their picture taken, and are happy to do so as long as it does not impede their enjoyment of the event.  Be polite about it too, say please and thank you, and if someone declines to have their photo taken, realize it's probably for a good reason.  Maybe Black Widow really has to use the restroom, or Iron Man has a migraine.  People who Cosplay are just that, People, and are not costuming themselfs for your enjoyment, it's for them.  Also don't be the creeper who only takes pictures of women's butts or chests.

See, Cosplay doesn't equal nudity either

On that same subject, Cosplay DOES NOT equal consent, the same way that a short skirt is not an invitation to be raped.  NEVER touch anyone without their express consent.  Sometimes people are not okay with being touched at all, sometimes the costume is delicate.  Either way, make sure before you put your arm around Slave Leia that she is ABSOLUTELY OKAY WITH IT.  You wouldn't want strangers walking up to you and grabbing you just because they liked your shirt, it's EXACTLY the same with Cosplay.  These are fellow human beings.  This is a subject that recently has been a hot button issue in the community of late.  Unfortunately the fact that women are the subject of unwanted attention more often than men has kept a lot of women away from events that should be about a shared love of something.  I will also stress that if you must say something about what someone is wearing, keep it simple and about the outfit, and NEVER say anything too personal.  It's not only rude, it makes everyone uncomfortable and it makes you look like a jerk.  Dressing as Lara Croft DOES NOT mean that a woman wants to answer questions about her sex life, it means she likes Lara Croft.

I feel very strongly about this.  I have never personally been harassed or made to feel unsafe, but friends of mine have.  This type of behavior HAS to change.  If you see someone behaving in a way that is less than tactful  tell them to knock it off.  The nerd community is full of people who don't feel like they fit elsewhere, we have to watch out for one another.  Harassment and lack of tact affect everyone, be the change to make Cosplay about the fun, not the skin.

If you would like to read more here is a great article about the campaign to remove harassment from the Cosplay community.
Keep it Classy People!

All Pictures Copyright Jessamy Collier