“Masquerades and competition in cosplay are bad for the cosplay community!”
“Cosplayers who actively compete are catty bitches.”
“Cosplay competitions are harmful to cosplayers!”
“Cosplay competitions are seriously competitive and not meant for the simple hobbyists.”
“Only the big costumes and the sexy cosplayers ever win at Masquerades.”
With the growth Heroes of Cosplay, I’ve been hearing more and more of these comments. As the Head of the Anime USA Masquerade, this hurts me a lot because I work so hard to ensure that none of the above happen. But after this con I really wanted to show that cosplay competition can actually be really helpful and supportive for cosplayers and for cosplay relations.
I’d like to introduce who I call the ‘Moon Family.’ A mother and two daughters (as well as several friends and other family members) go to conventions on the east coast of the US. I met them a couple years ago at a Sailor Moon shoot and they have most certainly been one of the most growing families in cosplay I have ever seen.
First, meet Melissa (also known as Destiny Designs.) Back when I met her she still felt really iffy about her craftsmanship skills. She felt as if she was getting by with her designs, but not really amazing or great. It was just ‘getting it done and working the character.’ Eventually she started doing the craftsmanship competitions at conventions, and then doing skits with her little sister and mother. Competing has not only inspired her to really study and research her sewing skills and other armor making skills, but also made her a lot more confident in her work to take on bigger and better projects of characters she loves. At Anime USA she not only took home a Hall Cosplay award, but also Best Overall Craftsmanship at the Masquerade.
Next, Moon Mama! The mother of the family. This is who I want to be when I get to be a mother at her age: still cosplaying with her children and rocking it despite her age. She has told me that cosplaying with them was first an interest to do something with her children, but with it she’s enjoying more and more seeing her girls succeed and getting to be the ones to help them. If you’re ever feeling down or iffy or just need some wise old wisdom she’s always the first one to give it. Also- she’s downright fabulous and witty to boot!
But my favorite inspiration to the family is Rusty. She is the youngest of the group and most certainly the biggest growth of a person I’d ever seen. When I initially met her a couple years ago she was the wall-flower who hid behind her mother most of the time, never speaking a word and tending to look more like a porcelain doll. This was due to the fact that she had very severe aspergers and was simply socially awkward in large social situations. Eventually she convincde her sister and mother that she wanted to do a dancing skit and do a few more cosplays, learning the steps over skype as the family was across different states. The more she competed and the more she cosplayed, the more she grew. This year at Anime USA their skit audio flunked, so both she and her mother did th skit live on microphones where she spoke in Japanese and then bantered between not only her and her mother, but also played with the audience. She’s grown into a shimmering and just radiant personality of ungodly cuteness- you’d never expect that she was once an extremely shy and nervous girl. Her love of performing on stage as her character certainly showed, as the two of them took home ‘Best in Show’ from Anime USA as well.
Why is this family so amazing? Because they are my prime example of competition done right. When AUSA was suffering with only 3 skits two weeks from con and a fear that we may have to cut the Masquerade, the family actually split themselves into two, just so that we could have one more set on the list. They pumped out our adverts as much as they could to their friends and onto the internet to get more skits- even knowing it would add more to their competition. They went around that weekend trying to find us more people for our Hall Cosplay to ensure we got more and more talented cosplayers interested in craftsmanship competition. Backstage, Moon Mama was my ‘Den Mother’ while I was running around like a pucker-headed-idiot, giving tips on walkons to new cosplayers walking the stage, as well as doing a mockup walkon for me so that they could see it backstage. They are the family that tries to always have a repair kit and is more than willing to give hugs and reassurance before going on stage.
Not only that, the competition itself has really helped them grow. Melissa has went from timid and shy to blasting her voice out on stage singing to her favorite songs in character. Rusty has grown a lot more self confident and outgoing that she’s started her school anime club and is giving tips and tricks to her friends on cosplaying. Moon Mama too has stopped thinking about her age and when it will be time to put down the costumes and is becoming more and more active in making costumes with her daughters. I’m both inspired and proud of this entire family.
Whats unique about the Anime Cosplay Competition Circuits on the east coast is that these people are not ‘exceptions to the rule.’ There are hundreds of other cosplayers I have met just like them who are supportive and who have grown in craftsmanship and in personality by competing. So many of us compete with each other year to year that we all know each other and are very good friends. The green rooms are normally filled with overwhelming support where the cosplayers of different fandoms are talking to each other about their cosplays, asking about how they did XYZ or what kind of poses they should do on stage. The nervous hall goers get support from the person they stand in line with from their butterflies and go on stage like stars. You’d never believe watching our show that at least 70% of our walkons were novice, and most of our award winners started out as novice as well.
So the next time you think that craftsmanship or performance competitions at anime cons are vicious and just filled with backstabbers and horrible people where only the sexy and the big win and that they are demeaning to all other cosplayers: think of the Moon Family. Think of how they and others have grown out of the enjoyment of competing and how they, like many other cosplayers, are supportive of others competing and also growing just as they have.
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