Look gaiz! Wall-O-Text.
Time and time again I have wandered over to these arguments or these controversies where cosplayers who sew their costumes are ‘more dedicated’ or ‘better’ cosplayers than those who buy theirs. This is an ideal that perpetuates within our own community almost exclusively.
And quite frankly? It’s an actual crock of shit and it needs to stop.
It states that craftsmanship cosplayers are more dedicated than store bought based on time and money.
Judging dedication in a hobby is another step into gatekeeper mentality where one needs to judge those around them and decide who and who does not belong. It uses time and money as a method in order to dictate who is a higher classes cosplayer in a community that– outside of competition– should not have to judge each other and have to class each other. It can really show the western ideals that ‘more’ is overall ‘better’, which throws our actual love for cosplay somewhat out the window.
What’s unique is that this ideal is also inherently flawed as well. Does spending money and taking the time to sew a costume actually make someone more dedicated than someone who spent less money and time commissioning from someone else?
For example: My Beatrix cosplay is all hand made and I won Best of Masters at Ohayocon for it- but I’ve never played FFIX (for the record I have a wiki for a friend 8D) and chose her due to wanting to cosplay with Naiiki’s Garnet and Zetra’s Kuja. Does that make me more dedicated or a better cosplayer than someone who buys a costume and has an absolute adoration to the character and knows everything about Beatrix?
This is also extremely unique when the idea on profiting on cosplay is considered a dream to several craftsmanship cosplayers. You cannot hold one hand up to commissioning cosplayers, and in the other be selling off costumes for them to wear. If everyone made their costumes all the time, the only ones profiting are the fabric stores.
Craftsmanship cosplay is expensive and sometimes difficult to attain.
In the United States, JoAnn fabrics has the monopoly of chain-store fabrics. It is extremely difficult to find local places outside of the fabric districts. Both it, Walmart, and Hobby Lobby mark up their fabrics to a certain degree due to their control over the sewing market. This also results in a lot of cosplayers using the same fabric over and over and over again (like a sea of Casa Satin. Casa Satin everywhere.) Not many people can make it to big cities to shop in fabric districts, and some people can’t even get to fabric stores at all! The internet is a great place to purchase, but at the same time can be really risqué in color swatches and quality when one cannot see or feel their fabric live.
Lets just forget about the fabric and think about the other materials needed to even sew something together: sewing machines, sheers, needles, pins, irons, thread, seam ripper, tape, cutting board, ect. Those sort of materials can start piling up really fast, even at a basic level. Does that mean those with jobs and steady enough income to pay for this side of the cosplay hobby is the only one worth to be considered good? Forget skill- craftsmanship vs bought already established that having more money than another person is all thats needed to be a better cosplayer.
Young cosplayers become afraid to be craftsmanship cosplayers due to the already harsh criticism inside and outside the community.
So you want to be a ‘better’ cosplayer by making your own. But you’re afraid to start sewing because you’re afraid as a novice level seamstress you’re practicing work and photos are going to end up on ‘Bad Cosplay’ blogs and be harassed/belittled due to beginner work.
I did a simple google search to see how many of these I can find. This is the first 3 pages of only tumblr links:
So does a young cosplayer remain buying store costumes and be a second class citizen under ‘craftsman>bought’? Or do they attempt to take the steps into learning to sew and instead be humiliated on the internet by strangers for their work?
At that point, why would you even bother cosplaying at all?
It forces an ideal that popular cosplayers are popular due to their craftsmanship skills.
First of all: If craftsmanship was the reason that popular cosplayers were popular, then there would be a lot more people that would wait through the award ceremonies for Masquerades- or even more recognition for craftsmanship cosplayers at masquerades. I run two masquerades and trust me, 60% audience could give less than three shits on who won Best of Weekend for Hall and are probably gone far before the awards get there.
But the stigma that craftsman is better then bought forces people who have an online following that they must sew in order to be considered a good cosplayer. Not only that, they must prove one way or another to their fans or non-fans that they do make their own work. These people who couldn’t tell the difference between an overlock and a french seam and couldn’t give a crap about actual craftsmanship will demand that popular cosplayers be seamstresses or else their fame isn’t ‘justified.’ Why do we need to put unneeded pressure and hate upon these people we don’t even know?
It divides the community in two and creates a foul stigma
Suddenly a group united by a hobby is now divided by it. We have ‘second class’ bought costumes section who are possibly paying money to the ‘upper class’ craftsman cosplayers in order to just cosplay. It generates an ideal that these second class cosplayers are ‘not as passionate’ or ‘not as dedicated’ as other cosplayers and are undeserving to participate in the hobby.
But once you have excised a part of your community, it has a way of hurting the community overall. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those oppressed by the ‘better class’ of cosplayers and eventually they move to avoid those sects. It generates more stereotypes that are extremely unneeded in the nerd community. Who would want to befriend a craftsman cosplayer when they are all ‘elitists?’
So stop comparing craftsman to bought.
Unless you are a craftsmanship judge, don’t judge the quality of someone else’s work.
Unless you are asked to give critique on cosplay, don’t give it to cosplayers who did not ask you.
Unless a store bought costume ran over your cat, it does not give you the right to demean cosplayers who buy costumes.
Just because you have an opinion does not mean you have to voice it. Respect your fellow cosplayers. Do not bar them from the hobby they love as well.