Body Positivity In Cosplay
Written by Aesthel & CRM Contributors
Edited by Aesthel
Cosplay is an incredible tool that so many people can use to help feel confident. Many cosplayers in particular use cosplay as a form of empowerment for body positivity. We asked some of the cosplayers featured in Cosplay Realm to tell us about how cosplay helps them feel strong and confident in their own bodies, and here are some of our favorite stories they shared with us!
“By cosplaying Idols, I've learned to be a lot more confident in both how I look, and with what I do. One of the most important things that I've gained from cosplaying from Love Live is that it's important to embody a positive outlook on life. An Idol's job is to make others happy, and to have fun while doing it! “ - Blueseaswitch
“Since I joined the Love Live fandom in 2013, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of three dance groups. Before entering this fandom, I would have never had the confidence to dance in front of a masquerade crowd. But the amount of overwhelming support that I received from my fellow dance group members and from fellow fans allowed me to improve my skills drastically and overcome my fears. Now I can proudly say that I was part of a dance group that won best in Journeyman in a masquerade earlier this year. Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of knowing that all of my hard work and determination paid off, and I can't thank everyone enough who supported me in my journey to get here.
Cosplaying from Love Live has also helped me overcome my body image issues. After being in the cosplay community for so many years, I began to feel self conscious about certain parts of my physique. I had a nasty habit of comparing myself to popular cosplayers, and putting myself down when my posts didn't get as many likes or comments as I wanted. I would always blame myself, and think if I looked a little more like other cosplayers, I would be happier. However, cosplaying from Love Live made me realize that anyone can be an idol.
The 'flaws' that I saw in myself could actually be seen as positive traits by someone else.The things that I didn't love about myself were just aspects that made me unique. After I met so many beautiful and diverse cosplayers who were representing their best girls, I understood that I didn't have to adopt a certain look in order to have a good time cosplaying.
For me, cosplaying from Love Live has improved my outlook on cosplay and on myself more than I ever could have hoped for. I love being able to bring my favorite characters to life and put smiles on people's faces during performances and conventions.” - Blueseaswitch
“As both a darker skinned and plus sized cosplayer, I've been rejected for being "too dark", "too fat" or both.” -Stardust Megu
“Sites, photographers, conventions, etc. claim that there's a few black cosplayers in the community, but if they look at #blackcosplayerhere, then they'll see that so many of us exist. Unfortunately black cosplayers, especially if they're both plus sized and darker skinned, have to work 4x harder than everyone else for opportunities. Most photographers, pages and sites refuse to feature us. We're barely in cosplay music videos and some conventions deny us guest spots. If they do choose black cosplayers, then it's usually the token or the "ideal" ones (lighter skinned, racially ambiguous, and/or thin). Look at most of the photographers' portfolios and cosplay music videos (especially from the well known photographers and videotographers). Also look at the "best cosplays" articles. You'll either see no black cosplayers or they'll show the few "acceptable" ones. Because of this, some black cosplayers believe that their cosplays aren't good enough. People on the outside believe that there's not many black cosplayers in the community and some black people who want to cosplay will be super hesitant to do it.
As both a darker skinned and plus sized cosplayer, I've been rejected for being "too dark", "too fat" or both. I get undermined for not being the "right" black cosplayer. Even if we're both cosplaying the same character, I would be pushed aside in favor of the lighter skinned and thinner cosplayers. I still cosplay, despite of this! I cosplay because it's fun and to show people that you don't need to be a certain size or skin color to be your favorite character. Cosplay is Rated E for Everyone! No one should be excluded for not having the "right" skin color or body type. I love #blackcosplayerhere because it shows the world that these amazing black cosplayers of all shades and sizes exist! Best of all, it encourages black people outside of the community to cosplay and have fun! #blackcosplayerhere is a wonderful and uplifting movement and I'm so glad that it was created!” -Stardust Megu
“Cosplay has always been such an amazing hobby. I've always struggled with body confidence and being physically disabled has far from helped this. However, when I'm cosplaying, I manage to forget any worry or insecurity I have. “ -Hikari
“I get to portray someone else. Yuuko was the biggest character to help with that! At first I was drawn to her personality, she's so incredibly strong. Yet every time I put on her uniform, I feel more and more at home. She makes me feel like I can be myself and look the way I do and everything will be okay. She gives me the strength to be who I am and how I am. I don't need to worry about how much my elbow might stick out when I dance or if I might not be able to do a move perfectly or pose a certain way. I can just do it, to the best of my ability, and have fun!” - Hikari
“As a guy there aren’t always a lot of opportunities to be “cute” outside of conventions and cosplay “ - KawaiiRiot
“Even then it made me nervous to wear something so feminine. But the overwhelming support of my friends, and from strangers I met at Furfest made me feel really great about taking the risk! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long while and I finally had the chance to do it and to show that men can be soft and cute too! “ -KawaiiRiot
“Cosplay is for every body and every body is beautiful. “ - Skyriver_in_the_desert
“Halloween was my fiance’s dream Love Live set, so when their birthday came around I figured I’d get her Halloween Eli. Well when they opened it the first thing they said was “I’m excited for you to cosplay this with me!”
Now for a little background on me, I heavily struggled with obesity as a kid. I weighed almost 200 pounds at 10 years old, and I still carry some of that weight to this day. So for me, wearing anything that shows my stomach is always uncomfortable. I always pose to hide my belly or just not want pictures at all.
But since it was a gift I decided I’d do it for my future husband.
So I got the costume and tried it on, it was SMALL. Like you could see my whole stomach and most of my bottom. I didn’t want any part of it.
Well the photoshoot came and my fiance was pumped. And I was terrified. But I pushed through and did it anyway and ended up having a blast! Once I got in front of the camera I was having the time of my life.
So my take away from this and any other cosplay experience I’ve ever had is to love yourself in whatever you wear. Cosplay is for every body and every body is beautiful.” -Skyriver_in_the_desert
Cosplay Realm Magazine strongly believes that Cosplay is for anyone. No matter your body type, skin color, height, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else, you can cosplay. Want to read more stories like these? Cosplay Realm strives to feature cosplayer and photographer stories in every issue, pick up the latest one and let us know what you thought!
Do you have a story you want to share with us? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.