Daisy Brookes – Ekko Cosplay

Weight fluctuations are something I’ve dealt with my whole life. Never quite skinny, not really fat, but always volleying rapidly between the two. This has made me pretty self conscious about my weight and outward look for years. At first cosplay helped with that, I stopped thinking about how I’d look in a costume and just enjoyed cosplaying, but as the years have gone by and the competitive spirit of cosplay has crept in, I’ve felt myself feeling more and more insecure with every passing costume.

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In my Astrid cosplay, the first costume I received negative comments about my weight on, five years after making it and I still wear it with pride! Photo by Ohnoitsjade Photography

After my surgery and stint in hospital last October, I had lost a huge amount of weight and was the smallest I’ve ever been. People left, right and centre were replying to my posts and stories, exclaiming that I must be “so happy” to have dropped the pounds. It was degrading and infuriating to hear. My health didn’t matter, but the fact that I’d lost ten kilos did. I started to find myself comparing my value to how much I weighed, and whenever I gained anything I found myself freaking out, even though I desperately needed to put on some weight.

Losing weight from stress and trauma isn’t healthy and your body needs it back but I was terrified. People were suddenly praising my costumes and complimenting me more. In my head I forged the idea that it could only be because suddenly I was “skinny,” I was open to attention. This horrifying mindset is incredibly toxic and even as I write this I’m shocked I could think like that. And even more so that at my darkest times, I will still think like this.

The obsession with weight is one of the worst parts of cosplay. I’m not saying everyone shares this mindset or that everyone is guilty of it but from all I’ve seen and all the people I’ve spoken to, it’s such a shockingly large number of people who share these thoughts that I do have to generalise. I’ve had friends starving themselves to fit into costumes, friends pushing themselves to the point of passing out at the gym to drop those few extra pounds. And for what? So nobody thinks we’re the “fat” version of a character?

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Gemzus Cosplay looking absolutely perfect as Bo Peep, but don’t be fooled, talk shit and be prepared to get whacked by that crook! Photo by Cris Ward Photo.

I’m absolutely guilty of this. What’s fuelled me to write this is that I’m sat having a transfusion, and the first thing I thought when I saw my weight on the scales was “great, guess I’m gonna be the fat Starlight at expo next month.” No thought towards the fact that gaining this weight means that my body is recovering, just straight to the fear that I’ll be the odd thumb in a costume. I’m disgusted with myself. Irrationally, at first, that I let myself gain this weight and then by the fact that this still remains my first reaction to weight gain.

How will I look? How will others look at me? Will it be like primary school, will people whisper and laugh behind my back? Oh look at Daisy, once skinny and socially acceptable, now fat and therefore ugly. I try to tell myself “but have I ever thought about people like that?” and the answer is no, I’m so caught up in being worried about myself, and so is everyone else. This irrational fear of being seen as fat. That it is the be all and end all of cosplay, that unless you are the perfect skinny mini model who gets all the attention, you are invalid, you are wrong, you are the bad version of something.

Recently on Instagram there’s been a wonderful trend where cosplayers are standing with each other by sharing the cosplayers who do the same costume. Solidarity to show that even though we may look different or go about making things differently, we love the same character. It shouldn’t matter what our body shape is, but in a world so obsessed with comparisons and competition, it’s hard not to feel downhearted and insecure. Which is why now, more than ever, we need to have each other’s backs.

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Stacey Rebecca is a huge body positivity advocate, here she is looking stunning in her Mera costume, shot by Food and Cosplay.

So much of the cosplay world lives on the Internet. We share our work on social media and get reactions, praise and feedback from strangers online. But the internet is insidious and sadly, full of people who find joy in being cruel. The words of a coward who hides behind the anonymity of  the comments section can not define your value. We can’t let the few people who hurl violent and degrading words be the ones we listen to. These people zero in on the one thing that is universally used to belittle people because they know it’ll get a reaction, but if we can work to change how we look at weight and cosplay maybe this’ll happen less? Sure, it’s probably wishful thinking, but I’m a hopeful person.

Society’s insistence that fat = bad and ugly needs to be stomped in to the ground. Aren’t we all just trying to do something we love that makes us happy? Yes, cosplay is an entirely visual hobby, and so it’s easy to get wrapped up in the looks of it all, but it’s time we leave weight at the door. Thin isn’t the default, or the only acceptable option. Dragging your body through hell to get the perfect body for cosplay isn’t a mindset we should be promoting. Be healthy, be kind to yourself, and be happy with your hobby.

You could definitely argue that the source material is partially to blame. Film and TV’s refusal to represent and celebrate a variety of body shapes is a spark that fuels so much of this. It’s hard to see yourself as a character when they look nothing like you, and even harder to step out in a costume designed for a completely different size when all you expect is ridicule.

I don’t want to be crying before a con because I feel fat. Because I’m scared of what people are going to think when they see me. I want to be excited to be going out in a costume I worked my ass off to make, excited to see my friends at an event or shoot. I want to stop obsessing over what angles are flattering or how I’m gonna look on camera and just roll with the fun of it all.

I’m going to keep working on my outlook and on how I view and value myself. The road to self love is a long and bumpy one, and it’s a daily battle we have to keep fighting. I am more than a number on a scale, more than my tummy rolls and double chin. My health needs to come first and I want to focus on praising my craftsmanship and skills, not praising myself for skipping dinner in a hopes that I’ll be a size 12 come expo. It’s time we talk each other up and love ourselves for who we are, what we do and what we love, and that is the wonderful world of cosplay.

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