This is a very important topic to discuss, and one I felt needed to be touched on. My overall hope is that those who are reading my words will pause, and consider where the cosplay community is now from where it used to be, and where it will be going in the years to come.
It’s important to understand that where the cosplay community is now is not where it was 5-10 years ago. It has evolved, and it will continue to evolve over time. But what sort of a community do YOU want it to evolve into? That is the burning question explored within this blog entry. Lets go way back, and look at how cosplay has evolved into the community it is now.
Cosplay began here in North America around the 1930’s. Back then, cosplay did not require participants to mimic a character’s appearance. Rather, they simply needed to dress appropriately for the genre, which is what Forrest J. Ackerman did in his futuristic costume when he attended a sci-fi convention. 
It was not until 1984 that the term ‘cosplay’ was invented, combining the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’. This was coined by the Japanese reporter, Nobuyuki Takahashi, after he attended Worldcon in Los Angeles. 
Fast forward to today and you’ll find it is no longer odd to see people donned up at conventions. Cosplay is no longer limited to just sci-fi or anime, but has branched into other categories, such as superheroes, cartoon characters, video game characters, and more.
With the evolvement of cosplay from what it was then up until now we see lots of changes in how others perceive ‘costuming’ or cosplay.
You will find some who are confused as to why a person (child, adult, senior) would ‘dress up’ on a day other than the Halloween holiday. And still you would even find some that will comment with things like ‘why don’t you grow up’ or ‘get a real hobby’. There are even some people who see cosplay in a negative light, or as a destructive hobby, claiming that these cosplayers are ‘merely playing dress up to escape reality’.
Some other negative aspects to todays cosplay community is the risk of:
Sexual Harassment and Judgement.
Sexual Harassment: Cosplay is not Consent is something all members of the cosplay community have heard more then once, and yet some still find the whole concept of this policy to be humorous. They claim that with todays society how you dress determines how people will treat you, and if you ‘dress like sluts, we can touch your butts’. This is SO WRONG, and this policy should not be taken lightly or made light of.
Remember: cosplaying a character is not an invitation for lewd comments or sexual harassment. It should be practiced freely, without participants worrying about the risk of harassment. 
Judgement: There are some people (even die-hard fans) who will cast judgement on cosplayers who don’t ‘look the part’ for the character they are portraying. It has gotten to the point where you may be scorned by these people for wearing ‘the wrong’ colored contacts, or that your hair/wig is ‘not styled the correct way the character has it’.
This is an incorrect practice and should not be encouraged or adopted.
People come in different shapes and sizes, and should not be body-shamed if they do not match the character’s body structure. Yaya Han, a popular cosplayer and a supporter of all cosplaying body types, has spoken about this issue, as she states:
“There is no rule book, commandments, or memo on HOW you should cosplay. If you want to dress as a character that looks nothing like you, go for it!”[1a]
The community today does have some positives to it, much like back in the 1980’s when cosplay became more popular and then in the 90’s when it became more mainstream.
Being a part of this community helps bring unity amongst those that are often times seen in todays society as ‘social outcasts’.
These people (who we will call nerds because honestly, aren’t we call?) will converge at local conventions to be among others who enjoy similar things within the nerdom that is at the heart of most anime and gaming conventions.
And you know what? They have a great time!
The cosplay community makes up a vast number of convention attendees. Many cosplayers will attend a convention JUST TO COSPLAY, and have no intention on attending panels or main events. They simply want to do what they love and showcase their work or love of a character among those who get them.
Now consider if you will where the cosplay community is going.
Consider the next generation of cosplayers. What sort of obstacles will they face? what sort of backlash from the ‘normies’? And most importantly…what will the community be like as a whole?
If we continue to false feed these lies that you have to look like the character in order to cosplay them then the community as a whole is in HUGE TROUBLE!
If we continue to judge OUR FELLOW COSPLAYERS then the community is in HUGE TROUBLE!
I have said this before and even have an entry for it, but do not believe that you can’t cosplay because of xyz reason! THERE IS NO COSPLAY RULEBOOK!
If members in the community continue to be so hateful to others then I honestly fear the community and its new generation to come.
What YOU can do to help make the cosplay community a better place for the next generation:
Be kind and respectful to one another.
We all have different views and opinions on things, and that’s okay. But we can agree to disagree like adults and move on. We live in a culture where if someone offends you or doesn’t agree with the views you have you can ‘de-friend’ them, and this is a childish approach.
We lead by example, so if we have any hope that the next generation of cosplayers are kind and respectful then we need to set that example.
Be encouraging to others.
Reach out! Help make someones day. A simple ‘I love your cosplay!’ goes a long way, and I am a firm believer in including all cosplayers and now just the flashy ones with elaborate cosplays.
Inquire about how they made their costume, and really get to know the people in the community. Build relationships that will last for years to come.
Inspire the next generation (or current generation!).
You can be an inspiration to someone today who may be struggling, or having a case of the ‘Mondays’.
By choosing to share inspiring messages to others you are helping build that person up. You are giving them the tools they need to succeed just by being an inspiration to them. It could be the photos you share, or the posts you make. Whatever the case you can help choose to inspire the next generation of cosplayers vs tearing them down.
Strive to be positive!
We hear this all the time. ‘Look at the positives!’ or ‘on the bright side of life’. Often times that is easier said then done.
But believe me, this is super important! We live in a time where negativity is common place, and it’s to the point you cannot turn on your TV or listen to the radio without hearing something negative.
For every negative their SHOULD be a positive.
Let’s start today, and every day here after, to help make the cosplay community a better place for all! Let’s help the future generation of cosplayers now by setting examples, and showing ways we can (and will!) improve!
Until next time everyone. Happy cosplaying!
Youtube, tumlbr, instagram: happycosplayer
EDIT: Special thanks to my proofreader Japanicana83!