As fellow anime and manga fans, there may come a time where we find ourselves so emersed with a character that we may want to cosplay as them. Great, right? Right!
There's nothing wrong with wanting to cosplay or dress up as a character that you want to.
As kids, I'm sure all of us did it at one point. Unfortunately, like with most things, everyone just won't agree and you will get some form of criticism; that is just life at this point. However, there is a clear difference between criticism and toxicity and toxicity is just simply not okay.
I'm going to be completely honest. If you read around the site a bit, you would know that I got into anime/manga during my high school days. I honestly didn't really start cosplaying until I went off to college and really starting finding myself. When I wasn't off drowning in homework and studying, I ended up getting introduced to it by a friend in the anime club I attended.
Now, said friend invited me to join her at the convention in 2017 and it was my first one; however, I was absolutely terrified. I'm not going to say that it's the same for everyone because it's definitely not, but I suddenly felt self-conscious and worried. Let's jump into why:
If some of you aren't bothered by skin color, then that's amazing. Really. Personally, I firmly believe that we are all equal. We all bleed the same color blood when we get hurt and we are also human. We should be united under the human race, not by color, sexuality, religion, or anything more.
We are just simply humans.
Sadly, that's not the case for everyone and not everyone believes that we are equal. I really do get that we have differences and that we all have different perspectives, but racism and many other issues seem to pop up in everyday life. There are just certain things that shouldn't be justified and deliberately hurting anyone in any way is just wrong. These issues are issues that I simply do not agree with, but let's get back on topic before I rant for too long.
To me, being black and wanting to cosplay initially felt wrong. When I wanted to do it, I felt like I didn't belong and it wasn't something I should be doing. One of my friends at the time, who was black, even shot me down and told me that I couldn't cosplay certain characters because I was black...
But these characters are usually Japanese!
I really didn't understand it because the whole point of cosplay is to have fun. What does color have to do with anything? Why put such ridiculous limiters on something that is meant to be fun? Needless to say, it hurt my feelings and destroyed my confidence. I couldn't help but wonder that if I looked ridiculous to someone that was the same color as me, how did I look to those who weren't?
Personally, I have never endured such comments from other races, but the problem is that it exists and when we see it happen, it really does mess with us. It messed with me because it could've been me. And it still could be. In the end, I am glad that I was able to get over the fear and just do it, but it is still at the back of my mind even today.
I haven't been cosplaying for long, but I will say I am more confident now. For one, there are other black cosplayers out there and it makes me feel a little more confident about myself. Two, there is always going to be some form of criticism or hate somewhere (not that it is excusable or justified), and lastly, when you actually get to the con and you see everyone having a good time...it doesn't really seem to matter in the grand scheme of things.
You don't see color.
You see a community.
I can't speak for everyone, but when I'm at a con, I am genuinely there to be around people who enjoy anime and manga just as much as me; I'm there to express myself and have a great time doing it. I cosplay as whoever I want to because it's fun. Anime and manga characters aren't real anyway, right? So why does it matter?
If you're black and you're afraid to cosplay, don't be! I can understand that it may be scary, but the more you do it, the more hurtful comments or fears don't get to you as much. Again, it is very unfortunate that people resort to such tactics, but we really only have one life and it is up to us to try our best to enjoy it - no matter what the world thinks.
We must all put ourselves and our emotions first.
And even if you aren't black and you're nervous to cosplay, still don't be afraid! Go on and express yourself if it makes you happy. This world has so much commotion going on that it is important to cherish the things that make us happy and hold on to them. There will also be something or someone out there trying to take you away from that path, but fight it the best way possible.