Rin Tohsaka from Fate/Stay Night // Cosplayer : Stardust_Megu // Photo : dtjaaaam

 Back in high school, I read the first few volumes of the manga at Barnes and Noble and stopped. I went back to the series in late 2016 or early 2017 and actually watched the anime adaptations! Rin is one of my favorite characters because she’s intelligent and has these different sides of her. At school, she’s the model and diligent student, but when school’s out, she loves to let loose and is flawed just like everyone else! She may be brash, but she truly cares about those close to her and is an amazing mage! I love Rin because I can easily relate and see myself in her (minus the magic use)! That’s when I decided for Rin to be my very first Fate cosplay! I made the whole cosplay myself including the embroidery on the top. I first debuted her at Anime NYC 2018. Then I wore her again this year Anime NYC 2019.

On Sunday of Anime NYC when I was Rin, I saw an amazing Archer cosplayer and fangirled. He saw me and was excited! I asked for a photo with him and he said yes. After that then he told me that there was going to be a Fate cosplay meetup in an hour. I literally had no clue about this and thanked him for informing me. Then later on at the meetup, I met so many wonderful Fate cosplayers. They all look amazing in their cosplays! This inspired me to plan out more Fate cosplays in the future! Right now I’m slowly working on Ishtar from Fate Grand Order!

The NYC cosplay scene is very interesting… NYC has a few cons here, but we have lots of cosplay meetups at parks and public places and so many cosplay night parties. A bunch of the cosplayers here strive to be cosfamous, but they along with some photographers and even companies are guilty of only favoring those with the “ideal” looks (thin, white, lighter skinned POC, racially ambiguous black cosplayers, plus sized cosplayers with a pear/hour glass shape) and would belittle those who don’t “fit the aesthetic” (plus sized cosplayers who don’t have the hour glass/pear shape, darker skinned black cosplayers and especially if they’re both).

There’s so much elitism and subtle discrimination so a lot of cosplayers tend to keep to themselves or with close friends. A bunch wants to be recognized for their cosplays, which isn’t wrong, but I feel that they completely forgot the true meaning of cosplay. However, when things do happen, there are plenty of times when we come together and help each other out. For an example, back in 2016, a former friend of mine made a meme of me and fat shamed me publicly on social media for no good reason. This all came out of the blue and I was shocked that he did this. When the whole NYC cosplay community found out, they all defended me and told the guy that what he did was wrong. I’m very grateful for this! Because of the elitism and bullying, a bunch of friends created cosplay groups, events and free photoshoots/meetups for all cosplayers to come and connect with each other. We’re not completely united and there’s definitely needs to be some improvements, but there are times when it does feel like a community.

It’s not as niche as it was 10 years ago. There are now better materials to make your cosplays and it’s more accessible. We have physical stores that sell worbla and other cosplay materials. There are online shops that sell better quality wigs. The rise of social media has changed the cosplay scene drastically. It’s a double edged sword. Cosplayers can easily post their cosplays and connect with other cosplayers. There’s more cosplay tutorials on YouTube compared to back then. Some even make a living as cosplayers through Patreon! I like that cosplay is mainstream, but this also makes the bullying and elitism much more visible. It has always been there, even long before I became a cosplayer, but the rise of social media gave these trolls the platforms to tear down cosplayers and especially harass black (darker skinned) and plus sized cosplayers. Black cosplayers are still told that we’re the “n-word *insert character*” and plus sized cosplayers are still asked if we “ate the character”.

There are so many amazing black and plus sized cosplayers out there, but we still receive so much hate and are less likely to get opportunities, like cosplay guest spots at conventions or sponsorships. We’re more likely to get criticized and have to work 20x harder than everyone else for the fraction of opportunities. Recently, I received a bunch of hate on Twitter on my Rin cosplay post. I was constantly told that I looked like a man because of my size and dark skin. I was even misgendered a couple of times on purpose. Luckily my followers defended me and had my back.

Cosplayers (including myself) use social media to bring awareness and speak up about our experiences. We even speak up at panels and especially about the experiences that plus sized, black, disabled, LGBTQ, etc. cosplayers face. We use our platforms to educate the audience, help them be much more mindful of others and for changes to be done in order to make the spaces safer for all. Now all conventions have rules on cosplay etiquette and against harassment (physical, sexual, verbal, etc), racism, and bullying. It wasn’t like this when I started. We still have a long way to go, but things are slowly getting better!