Colorism in the Cosplay Crowd & Having Confidence in Spite of It
Updated: Jan 23, 2018
I was going through my old pics on my iPod when I came across my New York Comic Con 2015 album. It was my first time cosplaying and I'd been SUPER excited about it. But as excited as I had been, I had also been terrified to do it.
Not because I was worried about going out in public in costume, but because I was nervous about how my fellow comic fans would receive me.
But why worry about that? They were just as geeky as I am, right? Well, yeah, but there's something that non-black people don't get. And that's the racially-charged criticism black people and other POC, particularly the dark-skinned ones, are prone to getting when we cosplay characters that aren't dark-skinned or black. (A veritable sh*t-storm if the cosplayer isn't considered gorgeous.)
As much as I hate to say it, the gamer, comic book, sci fi, and anime crowds aren't anywhere NEAR as accepting as people like to think that they are. Once niche communities, they were previously places where people with not-so-great views tended to congregate. Even now that they're gaining a lot more mainstream visibility and popularity, they can still be unwelcoming to POC and at times, downright sh*tty.
For some people, that's fine. For me, that's anxiety-inducing. Hell, I'm the type of person who has to steel themselves up just to meet a friend of a friend at a party. And back then, I was also extremely insecure about myself and my appearance.
But I cosplayed. Because, noob costume or not, I wanted to enjoy the full experience of Comic Con. I wanted to dress up like one of my favorite superheroes and be able to be as nerdy as possible without care.
And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not just because my favorite Batman voice actor (Kevin Conroy, the G.O.A.T.) turned out to be one of the coolest people I've ever met, but because I'd felt confident and free that day.
For once, I'd actually felt like ME in the public eye. It was the first step I'd taken toward unapologetically loving me.