National Stop Bullying Day (Unity Day)

We urge all #costumers, #cosplayers & #CostumeClub members to remember that today is #NationalStopBullyingDay. #Bullying is a topic that we have posted about many times in the past and it remains an ongoing problem, not only against children, but also against fellow cosplayers, costumers & members of costume clubs.

Bullying is essentially repeated physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse. While most associate bullying with children, many adults are subjected to a variety of forms of bullying. The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.”

Common forms of adult bullying are as follows:

  • Physical bullying. This includes physical intimidation, threat, harassment and/or harm; such as physical attack, simulated violence (raising a fist as if to strike, or throwing objects near a person), extortion, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment at work, personal space violation, physical space entrapment, physical size domination, and numerical domination (ganging up on a victim).
  • Tangible/material bullying. This involves using one’s title or position or material leverage (such as financial, informational, or legal) to intimidate, threaten, harass, and/or harm in order to dominate and control the victim.
  • Verbal bullying. This includes threats, shaming, hostile teasing, insults, constant negative judgment & criticism; or racist, sexist, or homophobic language.
  • Passive-aggressive or covert bullying. Probably one of the most insidious & difficult to prove forms of bullying, this involves subtle bullying while pretending to behave normally on the surface. Examples include negative gossip, negative joking at someone’s expense, sarcasm, condescending eye contact, facial expression or gestures, mimicking to ridicule, deliberately causing embarrassment & insecurity, the invisible treatment, social exclusion, professional isolation, and deliberately sabotaging someone’s well-being, happiness, and success.
  • Cyber bullying. Various types of tangible, verbal & passive-aggressive bullying mentioned above can also all be carried out behind the sometimes anonymous computer keyboard via social media, texting, video, email, on-line discussion, and other digital formats.

Sadly, we have directly observed all of the above types of bullying occurring within the costuming & cosplay communities, most often between members of costume clubs (and not necessarily within the same club), as we have posted earlier this year on this blog. Sadly, the bullying that occurs within costume clubs is often ignored by leadership even after multiple complaints are filed. Then there was the publicized case of an Overwatch cosplayer being bullied for being black.

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Overwatch Cosplayer Bullied Online for Being Black

You’d think that #racism wouldn’t occur in the #cosplay & #costuming community, but it does & here’s a sad example: #Overwatch #cosplayer #bullied because she’s black. It doesn’t matter what race, what culture, what religion, what gender, what sexual orientation, what age or what size you are. Anyone can cosplay any character that they choose to cosplay and it’s time for this community to unite against the bullying, racism & bigotry that continues.

As a cosplayer or costumer, what do you want this hobby to represent? The freedom for anyone to express themselves through the wearing of a costume, or people trying to tell others what they can or cannot wear because of the color of their skin, their gender, or anything else that makes them different from the character that they’re cosplaying?

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Bullying & Costume Club Leadership 

More often than not, #CostumeClubs turn a blind eye to #bullying (#AdultBullying) occurring within their membership, even after a victim reports it.

There are various reasons why internal #CostumeClub bullying can occur unhampered:

  • Victims don’t always or are unwilling to report the bullying that they’re being subjected to. This may happen because they may feel too intimidated or afraid to report it for fear of additional reprisals. This can be especially true in cases where the bully is friends with or has strong influence with current leadership, or if the bully is part of the leadership structure.
  • Costume club leaders are not often willing to handle issues of internal conflict. A typical response from leadership to the victim who filed a complaint of harassment or bullying is, “Don’t do anything and it will probably go away.”
  • Costume club leaders may claim that the club’s charter (or equivalent) lacks enforceable rules regarding harassment & bullying of members by other members.
  • Costume club leaders upon receiving a complaint from a victim of bullying may blame the victim and, again, do nothing to stop the bullying that’s occurring.

Unchecked, bullying can go on for years because the bully(ies) is an adult, so they’re not going to “grow out of it”, which is a typical excuse used for child bullies. The person who bullies others obviously enjoys what they’re doing. This shows that they’re sadistic & compassionless. They may be narcissistic, sociopathic, a combination of the two, or have additional mental disorders.

When leaders fail to do their job of handling internal costume club conflicts, bullies can continue their bad behavior for years.

As recently deceased concentration camp survivor & long-time human rights advocate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”


There are ways to remedy & make it difficult for adult bullies to continue their sadistic behavior within costume clubs:

  • Costume club leaders must never ignore when a member reports being harassed & bullied, especially if the member has well-documented specific incidents of bullying.
  • If you are the victim of recurring bullying in a costume club from another member, accurately document every occurrence of being bullied before filing a complaint against the bully with costume club leadership.
  • If the bully is a friend of, has strong influence with or is a member of leadership of a costume club’s local chapter, don’t file a complaint locally. Either go to the leadership of a neighboring local chapter or take it directly to the national or international costume club leadership. Just make sure the complaint is well documented before filing.
  • If a costume club’s charter fails to address the issue of internal bullying, the it is imperative that the costume club’s charter is amended to address the issue to include specific penalties for any member found guilty of bullying.

Ironically, most costume clubs will make public announcements (especially in social media) that they’re against bullying while failing to address the problem of internal bullying that may be occurring.