Cosplayers in St. John’s say they have no time for body shaming within their community.
Cosplay fans join together to share their love for a fantasy world where they feel safe. But lately, with body shaming issues arising, it hasn’t been such a safe place.
Mae Dalton-Summers designs costumes for local cosplay fans.
“Cosplay is open to anyone who wants to be involved, but every group has people in it who want to bring you down,” said Dalton-Summers.
The word cosplay comes from the words costume and play and involves fans who design and wear outfits that mimic characters from movies, television and anime.
While it is a fun way for members to meet and share their passion in a welcoming environment, body issues can and often do arise.
“A lot of people who in their own lives might be isolated or shunned may want to join cosplay,” said Dalton-Summers. “But they feel they can’t make a costume as good as this person or they feel they don’t look a certain way,”
Summers recalls an incident where she was dressed as Ramona Flowers at a convention a few years ago.
“Somebody approached me and said ‘wow, it’s so great not to see a fat Ramona.'”
Dalton-Summers says those types of comments are not OK.
“Everybody else made a great costume too, so that’s never a compliment and it’s my job to tell people that’s not a compliment.
“A lot of body-shaming comes from within the community. All bullying stems from insecurity and I think that’s what happens in the cosplay community,” said Dalton-Summers.
Some other members have received comments from strangers saying they shouldn’t participate in cosplay.
Dalton-Summers says these comments come from fans who feel their dreams are dashed when they see someone who doesn’t conform to their expectations.
Lily Anderson, a local cosplay designer at Lily Hunter Cosplay, agrees that body shaming is a big issue in the cosplay community.
“A big part of that is because of world famous cosplayers like Jessica Nigri who are impossibly tiny and are the face of cosplay,” said Anderson. “People think every female cosplayer should look like her when in reality, not everyone looks the same and not everyone has a small waist and is curvy – it just doesn’t work that way.”
Facebook groups such as Newfoundland Cosplayers offers support to those who are body shamed.
“We have a really good community here in town, so if there’s a post where somebody is fat shamed for wearing a costume that was a little bit revealing, then the community is great at pouring out support,” said Anderson.
Dalton-Summers says organizations such as Sci-Fi On the Rock has put in place a anti-harassment campaign called Cosplay Is Not Consent” in place. But, aside from conventions, there isn’t any one group to help with those who are body-shamed.
Dalton-Summers urges people not to feed trolls.
“Just brush it off and go on and do your own thing,” said Dalton-Summers. “Then any power they have over you is gone.
“Our community here is very supportive, we are really lucky. We try to take care of each other and we encourage other cosplayers to jump in and join us.”