Cosplay culture in the age of #MeToo

Signs were posted throughout Fan Expo stating “Cosplay Is Not Consent” which to a reasonable person seems obvious. Despite that, these signs are actually indicative of a movement that started in 2013 stemming from sexual harassment that occurred at conventions. Verbal abuse, uninvited touching, groping and being photographed without permission are forms of harassment cosplayers, unfortunately, endure often.

Cosplay is Not Consent signs at Fan Expo Canada 2019

Harassment is not limited to just women in provocative outfits, however. In contrast, male cosplayers, who often dress as female characters referred to as crossplay, often find themselves to be victims of bullying for being outside society’s norms. Consequently, organizers had to remind Attendees to ask permission for photos and respect the person’s right to say no throughout the Expo.

Behind the costume

On a personal level I have no passion to dress up in a costume and Cosplay as my favorite Star Wars or Marvel character. However, as is plainly evident at a place like Fan Expo, plenty of fans appear to revel in the weekend getting the opportunity to show off costumes. I decided to speak with one cosplayer about why she does it and what goes into her costume.

Cosplayer Melanie in her Pokémon costume at Fan Expo Canada 2019

Melanie, who dressed up in what she described as a Pokémon armor, agreed to speak with me.

Q: Why do you cosplay?

A: It is a creative outlet and really fun.

Q: How do you pick your cosplay costume?

A: I usually pick an armor based on Pokémon or other characters I like.

Q: Do you make your own costumes?

A: Yes. Everything head to toe, from concept art to physical incarnation.

Q: How long does it take you to make your costumes?

A: A couple months. I just made one in 3 days. This one took 100 to 200 hours.

Cosplay as a profession

Some cosplayers have transformed their hobby into profitable careers. Therefore, a cosplay model can model costumes for video game companies, non-profit organizations like the 501st Legion or advertising firms. Many fans view good cosplayers as the fictional characters in the flesh, much the way an actor can come to be identified by fans for a specific roles.

A Cosplayer with the 501st Legion working the LEGO Star Wars panel at Fan Expo Canada 2019

Fan Expo Canada 2019 featured many of these professional cosplayers. One of those models was Danielle DeNicola who was available to meet with fans, take photographs and sign autographs.  She also participated on panels on the subject including “Changing the World Through Cosplay” and “Cosplay and Social Media – Build Your Brand” during the Expo. DeNicola has her own Patreon content where fans can see this gorgeous model transform herself through cosplay.

To meet others like Danielle DeNicola, and to see the lengths to which cosplayers will go to become their favorite characters, simply take a ride to the next convention nearest you!