Let’s Talk Cosplay & Sexuality
Cosplay or Costume Play has grown into a huge part of geek culture over the past decade, I think all of us can agree on this. For those of you who might be new to cosplay, it involves people who create and wear costumes of their favorite fandoms usually during conventions. If you enjoy Batman then you dress up as Batman. If you enjoy Cowboy Bebop, then you dress as your favorite character. The wonderful aspect of this hobby is that it is socially acceptable for new born babies to dress up and same with older folks as well. “Cosplay is for everyone” is a term thrown around constantly in the cosplay community and I think it is also safe to say that a good chunk of the community believe this. That is, of course, as long as there is not an overwhelming amount of sexuality, because that is when mixed feelings and often harsh judgement get thrown in.
Let’s start with one of the most popular cosplayers on the planet as of right now: Jessica Nigri. I have written about her time and again so I will cut to the chase, I am a fan and I support her. She has been accused of getting breast implants, not making her costumes, having disputes with other cosplayers, and over sexualizing her cosplays and a whole mess of other things but the fact still remains that she puts on a costume that represents a certain fandom, therefore she is a cosplayer. A lot of the cosplay community will debate night and day about what a true cosplayer is and why Jessica Nigri is not one of them, but will then turn around and say that ‘Cosplay is for everyone’. What they seem to forget is that no one set rules for any of this crazy popular hobby, there is no right or wrong with dressing up and going out and having a good time pretending to be your favorite character, even if it’s low budget or your own rendition. To give credit to Jessica Nigri she has stated time and again that she would never pose completely nude, the most fans are ever getting are what she already puts out which still covers the naughty bits of the female form. Although Jessica Nigri remains vigilant, a quick scroll through her Facebook page can show you that she does break down from the harassment of folks who bad mouth her from time to time.
Moving on from Jessica Nigri, let’s go even deeper down the rabbit hole and explore cosplay and sexuality even more. Liz Katz was once known as Risi Simms and she did adult films for some time when she took note of just how popular cosplay had become, she put her adult film career on hold and started sporting geeky costumes. From the beginning, she knew full well that fans would find out, without much work, about her past. She attempted to downplay her past as much as possible and to casual fans such as myself, didn’t look much into it because we were fans of her cosplay.
Again, when I say cosplay I mean both the appreciation of the costume and what the cosplayer looks like in the costume. It was evident that Liz Katz had limited knowledge of making costumes and thus bought most of her outfits, which is completely fine. Still, she felt the need to lie to her new fans about her past and tried her hardest to make everyone believe that she was a “legitimate” cosplayer. As expected, people came into her Facebook page, Twitter, Twitch, and Youtube videos to bash her left, right, and center about everything under the sun. They accused her of cosplaying for money rather than the love of cosplay. They said that she was a slut for having too much skin in a majority of her costumes.
They would not stop. Maybe she did choose to transition from adult entertainment to cosplaying because it was much safer and held more self-respect than adult films? It’s quite possible she tailored every outfit to ensure her figure was displayed in the most provocative way possible. At the end of the day, all of this from her past to the reason she cosplays should not matter at all. She was a cosplayer. Due to the immense amount of harassment, more than she ever received as an adult film star, she shut down all of her social media pages, sold as many of her costumes as possible and left cosplay behind for good. The community crushed her.
For our final female cosplayer, let’s go over one that is much less known: Oppai Queen. She is a plus-sized cosplayer who was bullied because of her weight and released this video. In it she explains that she could hardly take the harsh criticisms from convention-goers, social media users, and even other cosplayers who did not appreciate the fact that she had a few extra pounds. When I saw the video I agreed with her message due to seeing so many other bright-eyed cosplayers unveil their costume that they poured their blood, sweat, and tears into only to receive terrible backlash. What made Oppai Queen a much more interesting case was the fact that I, like so many others, liked her page out of sympathy and then found out she was an adult cam model while also being a cosplayer and held no shame what so ever about either one. Just a few posts before her heartfelt video were plugged to her website that contained samples of her work and where to purchase more adult content. I witnessed the inflation of likes to her page and then the sudden deflation all within the same week.
In our first example with Jessica Nigri, we had a very talented and beautiful woman whose many fans cry out to see her unmentionables and she holds her ground. The second example was Liz Katz who had adult content before she became a cosplayer. In this case, we have a cosplayer who is also in adult entertainment. People commented in disgust and such outrage once they discovered what she did that she had to release yet another video addressing the concern explaining that she does cam girl videos to bring in money and that she could not get a job due to not having a vehicle. She pleaded to her fans that she has no problem trading services in exchange for cash when it comes to seeing naughty bits and that the money would go to providing for her family. Many cosplayers sell prints of their most revealing costumes in exchange for cash, although being completely naked and being in a costume is not the same, we can not deny the similarities. Unfortunately, the fans did not react with kindness and hundreds of more likes dropped from her page within days of her addressing the concerns. Now this humble cosplayer who has a following of mere thousands receives the same, if not more backlash that the big cosplayers who have fans in the hundred or even millions do because of the over-sexualized nature of her cosplay.
To me, this seems wrong on so many levels. We should never ever judge a cosplayer based on their past, their motives, or anything at all in my opinion. We should focus solely on their craft and how they present themselves in costumes. If you enjoy what they do then support them if you disagree with what they do then leave. Nothing positive ever occurs from degrading another human being and no matter how smart you believe yourself to be, you’ll never truly know what these cosplayers are going through or why they do what they do. I have followed cosplay since the beginning and I have rarely ever seen male cosplayers looked down upon for wearing nothing but a speedo for diglet cosplays but if they see volumptious Witchblade cosplayers the gloves are off and words that cut the deepest are uttered.
In conclusion, cosplay should be focused on the models wearing their costumes and nothing else. We have all been bullied and harassed in our lives for being unique and different from the mainstream, it’s why we became geeks in the first place. Our community is supposed to love and embrace us for all our faults and cheer us on when we stumble. Instead, we have become the thing we hate the most. The only way to stop this is to simply stop being assholes and start spending our time letting cosplayers you support know just how much you appreciate them.