Body Shaming & Cosplay: Ivy Doomkitty Discusses Her Experiences
With Montreal Comiccon coming up, it’s fitting to publish an article on cosplayers (see what I did there?!). One of the most astounding characteristics of cosplay is its massive growth in the mainstream. Both the increase in the number of cosplayers and their wholehearted reception by fans is something we haven’t seen since… well ever.
Dressing Up For No Reason
In all of recorded history we have yet to see this sort of convergence between communication, technology, and accessibility. It has given rise to such epiphenomena as the Xprize, Kickstarter, Etsy and Uber. To Facebook and Instagram. To amazing virtual reality headsets.
…you’re likely to see people in your social feed fully dressed as Iron Man just for the heck of it…
And… to people dressing up as their favourite pop culture characters both young and old, foreign and domestic. We’ve reached a point where you’re likely to see people in your social feed fully dressed as Iron Man just for the heck of it. Not for Halloween. Not for a themed wedding. Just for, you know, a pleasant Saturday afternoon.
Cosplay is a Judgment-free Zone
Cosplay goes beyond recreational activities. There are those who make a living off of cosplaying. From costume designing to modeling to acting, the skills developed by a dedicated cosplayer is as useful as they are varied.
Fellow Citynet Magazine editor Tom Hartman and I have interviewed countless cosplayers over the past six years. If it’s one thing we’ve come to appreciate, it’s that anything goes with cosplay. Whether amazonian in stature or petite, stoutly built or wafer thin, gender specific or otherwise – you name it, we’ve seen it.
People are encouraged to come out, dress up and not be made fun of for their efforts.
That’s the inherent beauty of it all. People are encouraged to come out, dress up and not be made fun of for their efforts. A judgment-free zone, if you will, that exists around the empowering concept of cosplaying.
Well. That’s how it’s suppose to work.
What is body shaming?
Body shaming is the discrimination against a person based on the way their body looks. If someone’s physical appearance doesn’t meet a certain societal standard in the aggressor’s mind, the victim is made to feel bad about themselves because of it.
Body shaming is perhaps made worse when seen in the cosplay community which is typically more open and accepting.
It’s really a shame (pun intended) that cosplayers, who work so hard and are so gutsy, can be ridiculed because they don’t fit neatly in the box some expect them to be in. No one deserves ridicule because of their “level of attractiveness.” It’s actually mind-bogglingly mind-boggling that these people, who put such care and effort into their craft, could ever been seen as less than amazing.
Who among us hasn’t felt a touch of trepidation when walking outside with a new hair style or daring outfit? Now imagine leaving your house dressed head to toe in a meticulously crafted Wonder Woman outfit.
“Too Sexy” is Also Body Shaming
If it isn’t bad enough that cosplayers can be mocked for being “unattractive,” there are those who get admonished for being “too sexy” in their outfits. Believe it or not, that is also body shaming.
If someone looks too sexy for you, look somewhere else.
If someone looks too sexy for you, look somewhere else. How a cosplayer chooses to express themselves is their business, not yours.
The Interview with Ivy Doomkitty
When we interviewed professional cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty, we were appalled at the idea people were body shaming her to the extent that it almost got her to stop doing what she loved.
In this video, Ivy talks about body shaming while dressed as Meg Griffin from Family Guy. While the cosplay costume is fairly conservative, she has worn outfits that are far more revealing and you know what? Those costumes look great on her, too.
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Advice for Body Shamers
So here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice for the body shamers out there. Before you criticize someone else for the way they look, spend some time asking yourself why you feel the need to be critical. Don’t pass judgment on others before doing so on your own beliefs and opinions.
Putting someone down, does not make you any more important.
Ask yourself, honestly, why you feel the need to bring someone else down. Putting someone down, does not make you any more important.
Constructive criticism can be productive. But criticism through insecurity, or even hatred, hurts both the critic and subject in far-reaching ways. The emergence of mainstream cosplay is an opportunity for all of us to address this oppression that has been institutionalized in our society. It requires a good hard look at ourselves.
And for that, if for nothing else, we should say thank you to the noble cosplayer.
Note: Tom Hartman co-wrote this article.