Now that another con season is dead, and preparations for the next begin anew (working on a chevron headscarf... my man wants to go to Dragon*Con as Ezio, and I'm making an assassin gypsy!), I wanted to write something that I have really been mulling over for some time.
There's a lot of back and forth among cosplayers and the people that love them/hate them/rant about them on the internets these days. "They're portraying characters and therefore objectification is okay!" "I'm a person, goddamnit, and it doesn't matter what I wear! A costume isn't a badge that says it's okay to talk solely to my boobs/abs/junk!" "I LIKE TALKING TO BOOBS OKAY I CHOOSE MY CHOICE" "WHY AREN'T YOU TALKING TO MY BOOBS???" "Maybe nobody should cosplay ever, because we can't agree on how to deal, so obviously we Can't Have Nice Things."
I propose a middle path for all of us. A way that those of us who are in love with fandoms and express it with a desire for interfacing, moldmaking, and hunting down the precise shade of Assassin White can still exhibit their passion on their bodies in a safe environment, and where cosplay-viewers can still appreciate a rockin' bod underneath all that chainmaille.
(To get the haterz out of the way, I shall show you my Geek-Fu. I know zilch about computers/HTML/programming, but I have an appreciation for math, physics, and chemistry. I'm currently playing a 5th-level elven cleric in a 13th Age game [created by Rob Heinsoo, who worked on D&D], and a Blood Talon Elodoth in a Werewolf campaign. I'm down like a clown with comics [LOVE the work done on The Uniques, but I also hang with mainstream titles], I speak Japanese, have lived in Japan because anime [loved it anyway], and I almost flunked out of college due to an EverQuest addiction. Yes, I'm a geek, yes, I'm old, move on)
FOR THE COSPLAYERS:
First of all, to a varying extent, you want attention for your creations. Admit it, own it. Attention, and the desire for it, are not a bad thing in and of themselves. It's awesome having people stop you for your picture at cons, it's awesome having people compliment your work, especially when you went to fifty fabric stores for the aforementioned precise Assassin White. It's a rush. You're at a con, and you will be getting some looks and comments simply based upon the costume.
Sometimes, it's not so nice. You might hear people saying things behind your back about poor quality construction, styling choices, the character you chose, even how fat/ugly/awkward/skinny YOU look. It can hurt. But, sadly, that's the way the cookie crumbles. There's some sucking-up of one's own ego that has to happen because you're putting yourself and your work out there. Also, some people may not give you the level of attention you desire because of reasons. That's something that comes with the territory as well, sad to say.
FOR THE VIEWERS:
Stalking, harrassing, groping without invitation, sexually assaulting, or otherwise harming a cosplayer is just as bad as in real life. Which is really bad, and you should be ashamed of yourself if that's how you spend your evenings. But barring that, please remember that above all, there are people inside the costumes. Treat them politely. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't want your mom/boss/romantic partner/a police officer seeing how you're behaving, it's probably a bad idea to behave that way to begin with.
That's not to say you can't enjoy a rockin' bod in a costume. That's not even to say that you can't take a pic at a con and adjourn to the bathroom to masturbate to it, if that's what you're into. Ask for pics, don't just take them randomly. And if you have to compliment, please keep it to the costume itself. "Great fabric!" is very endearing. "YOUR ASS. I'D LIKE TO PUT THINGS THERE" is creepy.
Finally, please remember that the entire con floor is not a LARP. It's generally assumed to be OOC vs. IC. True story: I was wearing a Young Justice Miss Martian costume that my mom helped me with (my mom is awesome!), and wandering around a merch area, contemplating on buying a steampunk watch part bracelet for Day 2. Someone came up to me and yelled at me for breaking up with Superboy, told me that Superboy really loves me, and I'd never do better than Superboy. I was pretty off-guard at that moment, so I'm pretty sure I just said, "Dude, I'm an assistant manager at the Target in Chicago." Because I wasn't LARPing as Miss Martian.
Just... try to be excellent to one another. Bill and Ted might not have been especially bright, but they hit the nail on the head with that one. Thank you.