The cosplay community often claim the key to a successful cosplay is craftsmanship, accuracy and the performance you portray as the character. Most cosplayers will also tell you the most important thing is to have fun while doing it! Despite all this cosplayers with a bigger waistline, labelled a plus size cosplayer, are often met by negative comments and abuse (especially online) regardless of the time and effort they have put into their work.
Does cosplay accuracy mean fulfilling the unrealistic slim figures of an anime character? Why in what is meant to be an all accepting community do plus size cosplayers still feel the brunt of negative comments? Looking back, what percentage of plus size cosplayers have won a cosplay competition?
However, those who label themselves a ‘plus size’ cosplayer or have been categorised as one, have bonded together and formed various plus size cosplay groups online to celebrate their curves– some with thousands of likes. Forming their own community, friendships and creating a place for their cosplay to be appreciated – no matter their size. Looking at it, there seems to be no other community for other popular trends of targeted cosplay bullying such as ‘small boobed’ cosplayers.
On your cosplay page you classify yourself as a plus size cosplayer – in your own words how would you define this?
Cutie Shy Cosplay – I would define a plus size cosplayer as just someone who feels as though they are bigger generally. I personally like to class myself as a plus size cosplayer because I am chubby, but also in a way want to inspire other plus size females and males to cosplay, no matter what size they are!
Teh Princess: I classify myself this way because I am bigger than most female cosplayers you see. Though the term “plus size” can be deciphered differently, anyone that feels they fit this category refer to themselves as such. I do not believe that plus size can be determined by a dress size or a waist measurement. Different people in society/social media refer to plus size very differently. Some people consider a size 10 (US) to be plus size nowadays, but “curvy” isn’t always plus size…which is how most people today think.
How do you feel the anime community currently sees plus size cosplayers?
Cutie Shy Cosplay -In some ways, some people in the anime community aren’t too supportive, but in more ways they are. I feel as though people, who haven’t heard of cosplay or watch anime etc, are a lot less supportive to plus size cosplayers than those in the anime community.
Teh Princess – I feel the anime community is about half and half really. There are so many people that follow what I do and are so incredibly supportive and positive. There are also others that think that cosplay should stay within a certain criteria. You know, skinny girls who are aesthetically pleasing. Cosplay is about fun and being your favorite character for a day. So what if you’re a little chubbier than said character, it doesn’t give anyone the right to make a nasty comment or down someones crafting/sewing abilities. They do it for the love of the character not to make anyone else happy.
Have you received negative comments or been the subject of cosplay bullying because of a cosplay?
Cutie Shy Cosplay – When I made my cosplay page, I was just waiting for people to make fun of me, but I have yet to receive any mean messages!
Teh Princess – I have received some pretty rude and negative comments. None of them had to do with my ability to sew or make a cosplay. They all had to do with me being a little chubbier than most female cosplayers. One incident happened just a few months ago while cosplaying Stocking Anarchy from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. I was dressed in my Angel Stocking cosplay and some random guy had come up to me and asked for a picture. Before he took the photo he said “You must be cosplaying stocking from that one episode”. For those of you that don’t know or haven’t watched the series in one episode she ate many sweets which caused her to get really really fat. Anyway, after he said that and saw that I was taken off guard and got kind of upset he follows the statement up with “Oh hey it’s okay. I can make fat jokes to people because I’m fat too”. After that I hadn’t wanted to let him take the picture, but let him anyway. Nothing makes it okay to make statements like that at all.
What advice would you give to those who have been subjected to this?
Cutie Shy – If someone is being mean about you, whether in cosplay or not, if it’s online, report and block them as soon as possible, if it’s in real life, then just ignore them. Trust me, I know it’s not the easiest thing, but if anyone says anything, then I usually pretend that I didn’t hear them, they want a reaction and if you don’t give them one, then you’ve beaten them.
Teh Princess – Most negative statements that are made to plus size cosplayers are through the internet because most people don’t have the nerve to say it to our faces. So at the end of the day it’s just the internet and those people mean nothing and you will most likely never meet them. If someone has something to say to your face don’t let them see it hurts you. It will only give them the satisfaction of making you feel bad. Once its over find a con official or staff member tell them what happened, what the person looked like because 9 times out of 10 a con won’t stand for this type of harassment and WILL do something about it if they come across this person.
Have you ever contemplated losing weight to cosplay?
Cutie Shy – When I went to my first anime meet when I was around 14, I went in a Misa Amane cosplay that I’d made up myself. I went there feeling good and then noticed how many thin people were there and I felt pretty bad. But now, I’d never lose weight specifically for a cosplay, you can be any size and still look fabulous!
Teh Princess – I have only ever wanted to lose weight for myself. I have never once thought of losing weight to cosplay. If people don’t like what I do then hey they don’t have to look at me or take my picture. That’s their prerogative and will have absolutely no effect on whether or not I continue to do what I love.
Cutie Shy – I suppose one that shows ALOT of skin. There are ways around it, but I personally prefer to stay away from those sorts of cosplays, but I’ve seen lots of those kinds of cosplays and they tend to look pretty amazing, I think I’d get too cold anyway!
Teh Princess – I tend to stay away from overly skimpy cosplays. If they are a character that I am completely set on cosplaying I will adjust their outfit to work for me. Take Kitana for example. I took her Mortal Kombat 9 outfit which is a 2 piece and a thong and made it a one piece body suit and still stayed true to the character. As long as I can do that I think any character would be possible.
Do you think there is a difference between the culture of plus size cosplayers in America, UK and Japan?
Cutie Shy – Not particularly, but I do sometimes see a pattern in meanies on American cosplayer pages rather than other places, not even just plus size pages either and I find it upsetting, because people don’t deserve to be treated like that
What style advice would you give to a fellow plus size cosplayer?
Cutie shy -My top tip for cosplayers, is comfort. Make sure that whatever you are wearing is comfortable! It’s best to feel amazing, as well as looking amazing!
Teh Princess – Pick cosplays that work with your body and if it doesn’t alter it so that it does. People get such a negative attitude about bigger cosplayers because sometimes they put themselves in things that they really shouldn’t wear, but wonder why people make such nasty comments. Know what you’re wearing and how to wear it so that you don’t put yourself in those heart-breaking situations!
I have pretty much seen that the culture of plus size cosplayers is the same just about anywhere. People still react the same to them all over. This really bothers me too because as pluz size cosplayers most of us feel the need to make a cosplay 10 times more impressive than normal just to make up for our size, which still gets pointed out anyway. All over I see statements like “Oh that’s such a beautiful cosplay, but the person wearing it could stand to lose a few pounds”. It’s really sad.
What advice would you give to someone concerned about cosplaying a character due to their size/image?
Cutie Shy – Don’t be. I like to believe that cosplay was created for fun, so if you’re having fun, then just go with it! Don’t be worried about anyone being mean about it, because if they point things out, then they’re probably not having fun themselves.
How would you like society and the anime community to see plus size cosplayers in the future?
Cutie Shy – I’d like every single person in the world to see plus size cosplayers as, well, cosplayers! It seems as though there’s a thin line dividing up plus size and ‘regular’ cosplayers. It’s slowly becoming thinner, but I’d like to see in less than a few years, that line has disappeared!
Teh Princess – I would like for the community to be more accepting of plus size cosplayers. Especially since we try so hard to make up for the things we lack with detailed impressive costumes. People need to see we put TONS of time and effort and money into the things we make and no one deserves to be treated disrespectfully because they aren’t a size 2.
Thank you for your insightful and honest interviews – perhaps one day, there will be no labels such as a ‘plus size’ cosplayers, everyone will just be cosplayers, having fun and admiring each others craftsmanship and creativity!
Cutie Star – Shizuka Marikawa and Rukia Bleach – Dark Star Photography