Don’t you just love the sound of your self-esteem plummeting when you see your friend or frenemy cosplay the same character you want to before you even get a chance? Well. Don’t head for your ice cream tub just yet, my friend. Let’s try and get through this together.
“CosPains” is a series of short self-help posts related to the biggest pains of cosplaying written by Pudding Shot’s resident cosplayer.
To my fellow cosplayers, has this ever happened to you?
A new anime or video game has just been released, and you’ve already figured out your favorite. You are already so invested in them that heck, you’re serious about cosplaying them at your next con! You’re already thinking about materials, budget, and who to ask to do a group cosplay with you. You log onto Facebook (or Tumblr, if that’s your style), ready to shout to the world who you’re going to be for [insert con name here] only to scroll a few posts down aaaand…your friend has just posted a dolled up Instagram photo of them costesting the character. And they’re perfect. Dammit, they’re so perfect!! Day officially ruined.
Even if you’ve never cosplayed before, you’ve probably been in a similar situation. Maybe you’ve created amazingly complex characters and whimsical world to put them in that you just can’t wait to write. And then you see parts of your premise (or heck, your ENTIRE premise) displayed on the back of a book at Barnes & Noble. Or maybe you’ve always dream of going to Greece, only to log onto Facebook a few days later and see a mutual in Greece.
It’s the kind of feeling where you feel like you’ve been copied, even when you clearly know the other person isn’t a mind reader. (Or ARE they?)
Having a frenemy or cosplay rival is fine. I mean, we all have those friends on Facebook who we really don’t like, but we still want to keep them on our friend list anyway so we can secretly peep on their profile to see what they’re up to. But then most of the time when we do that, we just end up getting unnecessarily jealous over their perfect life and their perfect cosplays…even when we didn’t have to go onto their page in the first place. It’s pretty masochistic of us, actually. So why should we actively try to make ourselves feel bad?
It’s good to have a little bit of rivalry. Competition can inspire you to push yourself, to learn new skills or feel proud that you took the extra mile to do something. But when it overwhelms you to the point where you don’t feel like you want to be that character anymore simply BECAUSE you’re so angry and jealous…then that’s a problem.
I experienced the “cosplay copycat” for the first time last week, actually. I’ll call her Steph. Steph is an amazing artist who has kinda started to pick up cosplaying, and she pulls it off so well. Though she’s sort of short, she’s got white, crystal-clear skin that’s like the perfect base for every anime character ever. She’s also a great makeup artist too, and can blow people away with circle lenses, falsies, the whole shebang. And because of her art following, she already has a good cosplay following, too.
I’ve always been a bit jealous of Steph. Not because of her art skills, but rather her lifestyle; she can make a living going to cons all year round and then some. To me, it sounds like an awesome life, even though I know Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are totally fake and only present the “best” part of ourselves (which I hate!).
Now, I’ve never been in a situation where Steph and I cosplayed the same character. In fact, I always end up cosplaying the same characters as my cosplay mentor (SENPAI), and I’m never bothered by it, mostly because I respect her and see her as an older sister.
But oddly enough, I never expected that Steph and I would run into this situation – or, that I would make myself experience this situation (because remember, Steph didn’t actively do this. It’s all mind games here!). So that’s why, when I saw this Instagram photo of Steph as the brand-new character that I wanted to cosplay for Otakon, I was devastated.
I felt like I’d been copied, and then I felt like I hadn’t been given a chance to prove myself.
Looking back on it, it was such a dumb way to feel. I immediately told myself that I wouldn’t be this character anymore. No way, no how. It was just the way it was going to be. And I hated the imaginary fences I was creating for myself.
Unfortunately, jealousy and competition are common problems within the cosplay community. They’ve always been there and, sadly, they aren’t going to go away.
So here’s what you and me gotta do:
Just cosplay the character. No, really. Cosplay that same character. YOU know that you’re not copy-catting. And if you’re afraid that others are going to think that you copied the other person, then don’t think that way. Pure and simple. You wanted to cosplay this character. Again, pure and simple. So why torture yourself and bar yourself from being someone who brings you happiness?
Nowhere in the cosplay rulebook does it say you can’t cosplay a character if your friend is cosplaying that character. (There is also no official cosplay rulebook.)
Besides, thinking that way would do the character a disservice. Characters are meant to inspire multiple people. Many people can connect to a certain character because they remind us of ourselves or we aspire to have the same qualities or attitudes they have. Or maybe that character is just so freaking badass that we want to be that badass for a couple days, too.
Remember, nobody is telling you that you can’t cosplay this character – only you are. Your friend isn’t preventing you from being this character. You are. When something brings you happiness, don’t take it away from yourself.
If it bothers you so much that you couldn’t bear to be at the same con with the same outfit because you feel like people will be comparing your costume to your friend’s, then hold off and present it at a different con. Think of it this way: you’ll have more time to put into your costume! You’ll be putting in twice the effort!
But really, when a rival cosplays a character before you do, just cosplay the character. Allow yourself to be happy and show off your love for your favorite.