What Are the Rules of Costuming & Cosplay?

What are the rules of #costuming & #cosplay? If you ask this question to any #costumer or #cosplayer, they’ll likely say that there aren’t any. While this is true in the sense that there is no universal costuming & cosplay group that has established any rules nor would it be possible for such a group (if it existed) to enforce them, there are rules that costumers & cosplayers should follow or face potential consequences for failing to do so, because some have.

What are these rules? Ones that apply to everyone (not just costumers & cosplayers) because they come from established laws or are established by venues, conventions, movie theaters, etc.

Wearing a costume or cosplay (including carrying props) in public does not exempt one from obeying established laws.

The Basic Rules That Apply to Everyone

1. Laws Governing Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior. Social and community attitudes to the exposing of various body parts and laws covering what is referred to as indecent exposure vary significantly in different countries. It ranges from outright prohibition to prohibition of exposure of certain body parts, such as the genital area, buttocks or breasts.

Local, county, state, provincial & national governments have typically established laws defining indecent exposure that apply to everyone that is within their jurisdictions. If a costumer or cosplayer decides to go out in public wearing a costume or cosplay that violates indecent exposure laws, then there’s a good chance that the costumer or cosplayer is going to be arrested.

So, before wearing a costume or cosplay in public view, be sure that it doesn’t violate any indecent exposure laws that could apply.

2. Laws Governing the Wearing of Masks

Anti-masking laws refer to legislative or penal initiatives that seek to stop individuals from concealing their faces, who often do so to conceal their identities while committing a crime.

Now, while costumers & cosplayers have no criminal intent while wearing a mask (or other face-covering item, such as helmet) as part of a costume, many criminals do wear masks or helmets when committing crimes.

For this reason, if a costumer or cosplayer goes out in public wearing a mask or helmet that completely conceals their identity and it’s not Halloween or the intent of why as mask or helmet is being worn isn’t clear to the general public, then that costumer or cosplayer could find themselves being arrested or getting into trouble. We have reported multiple such instances on our blog & Facebook page. Here are 2 examples:

Here are other articles we’ve shared about people wearing costumes while engaged in criminal activity:

Thus, it is very important to know when it is and is not appropriate to wear a mask in public. 

3. Laws Regarding Civilians Wearing Military Uniforms & “Stolen Valor”

In the United States, federal laws concerning the wearing of United States Military uniforms by people not on active duty are published in the United States Code (USC). Specifically, 10 USC, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 45, Sections 771 and 772.

Section 771 states:

Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear –

(1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or

(2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps

Section 772 lists some exceptions, the most important of which that is applicable to costumers & cosplayers is listed below:

(f) While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force.

Now, while on the surface, these laws seem pretty plain, the reality is that no court has ever really defined what a “theatrical production” is. Hence, is Halloween or attending a comic con a “theatrical production”? While this isn’t clear, the only court case where this topic has been addressed had a very liberal determination.

In addition to the laws cited above, there’s also the issue of stolen valor.

“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.

If you are going to wear a military uniform as a costume or cosplay, leave out any actual medals and don’t pretend that you ever served in the military. Otherwise, you can very quickly be seen as someone stealing valor. The U.S. government passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 to address issues of people attempting to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits by convincing another that he or she received a military award.

4. Laws Regarding the Wearing of Law Enforcement Uniforms, Badges & Insignia

Without going into a lot of detail, it’s generally not a good idea to wear authentic law enforcement uniforms, badges or insignias. To do so could be construed as impersonating a law enforcement officer. If you want to read on this subject further, we recommend starting here: Legal information and links to U.S. Federal & U.S. State Laws and regulations as well as Foreign National Laws governing Badges, Emblems, Uniforms, Insignias and Names.

5. Laws Pertaining to Weapons

As many costumes & cosplays include prop weapons, it’s important to remember that those prop weapons shouldn’t be carelessly taken out into public where they could be misconstrued as being real weapons. Not only could you be potentially arrested, you could imperil your own life should a law enforcement officer decide to fire his/her weapon if the officer feels that he or she (or the general public) is in some way threatened.

For specifics on laws pertaining to types of weapons, the following links are useful:

It also goes without saying that it would be highly unwise to be carrying a prop that looks like an explosive device in this day & age, especially one that looks realistic.

6. Zero-Tolerance Policies at Schools

Most public school districts maintain very strict zero-tolerance policies for weapons & drugs. Even toy weapons (that are often used for costumes & cosplays) fall under this type of policy, as well as masks & helmets.

The bottom line, don’t take any prop weapons or wear masks to or near a public school.

Venue or Convention Specific Rules

Venues and conventions often have specific rules pertaining to costumes & props. As these rules vary widely, it is the responsibility of any costumer or cosplayer planning to attend to understand the specific venue or convention rules ahead of time. While its true that some conventions change rules at the last minute, it’s very important to stay on top of them for that very reason.

Any costumer or cosplayer whose costume or props don’t meet the rules of the venue or convention won’t be allowed to enter, and these rules (especially with regard to prop weapons) have been increased considerably since the unfortunate incident of the armed man who entered Phoenix Comic Con earlier this year. Phoenix Comic Con still has very strict rules. We have written posts regarding venue & convention rules:

Movie Theaters that Ban Masks and/or Costumes

Most movie theaters continue to ban any costumes that conceal the wearer’s face following the unfortunate shooting incidents that have occurred over the past couple of years.

Concluding Remarks

No one likes being told what they can and cannot do when it comes to costumes and cosplays, but applicable laws and rules can impact what individual costumers and cosplayers are planning to do. The most important thing is to be aware of them ahead of time. If the laws & rules are too restrictive for what you were planning to do, consider doing something different. You’ll still have just as much fun without the fear of getting into trouble.

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References

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Cosplaying as a Star Wars Vehicle

#StarWars #costumes & #cosplayers are rather common, but #cosplaying as a “Star War” vehicle is quite different. #Kotaku shared an article about cosplayers who dress up as “Star Wars” vehicles. Common vehicle #cosplays include an AT-AT, AT-ST, Death Star, TIE fighter & more. Below are a few examples:

AT-ST, Millennium Falcon, TIE fighter:

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AT-AT:

Another AT-ST:

Child AT-ST:

Imperial Star Destroyer:

References:

Beware: Halloween Costumes Could Give You Head Lice

Shopping for a new #Halloween #costume or just trying on #costumes at stores? Head wear (such as wigs, masks & hats) could have lice! Doctors often see a rise in reported cases of head lice at this time of year because people trying on costumes in stores could have head lice, which can then be transferred to other people.

We recommend the following advice to avoid possibility of being exposed to head lice when trying on costumes in stores:

  • Never try on a mask in a store without wearing a bathing cap over your hair.
  • Put a new costume into a tightly sealed plastic bag for at least 48 hours before wearing it to kill off any lice that may be on it.
  • Place dryer-friendly costumes into a dryer for 45 minutes before wearing them.

 

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References:

 

Why People Stop Cosplaying

As the #costuming & #cosplay hobby & community has grown considerably in recent years, there are also people ending their participation as #cosplayers. There can be a variety of reasons (often a combination of reasons) that can cause people to lose interest. We’ll address some of the reasons here.

Reasons

Becoming Increasingly Expensive

Let’s face it: #cosplay is an expensive hobby and it is becoming increasingly expensive over time. Even for those who are highly skilled in making nearly all of their costumes & props, there are still the additional logistical costs that include admission to attend comic & anime conventions, dining, lodging, transportation & other costs.

While a single comic or anime convention pass (for a single day) may not too cost much by itself, multiply that by attending multiple days and/or attending multiple conventions. The cost of admission for attending multiple conventions can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars very quickly. As for dining, you’re going to have to eat at some point. Unless you can bring a lot of snacks into conventions with you, you’ll have to buy food & beverages at some point and it will probably be several times. Depending upon what and where you eat, the cost of several meals and beverages could add up to $100 for a single day. If you’re attending multiple days and/or multiple conventions, then it could add up to several hundreds of dollars just for food & beverages. As for lodging, a single hotel room for a single night at a minimum will cost around $180. Multiply that by several nights for several days spent at a single convention and/or lodging for more than 1 convention and it quickly adds up to well over $1000. As for transportation, at a minimum parking will likely cost around $10 to $20 per day near a convention center.

Let’s break down the logistical costs this way: to attend a single day at a convention, the total cost can be estimated as follows:

  • Admission for 1 day: around $40 – $50.
  • Food for 1 day: $80 – $100.
  • Parking for 1 day: $10 to $20.
  • Total: 1-day total logistical costs (no lodging): around $130 – $170.

Using the 1-day logistical costs (with no lodging) as a baseline, let’s look at attending multiple days with lodging:

  • Attending for 2 days + 1 night of lodging: around $440 – $520.
  • Attending for 3 days + 2 nights of lodging: around $750 – $870
  • Attending for 4 days + 3 nights of lodging: around $1,060 – $1,220

Finally, let’s look at the approximate cost of attending 3 3-day conventions with lodging in a single year. That cost would be around $2,250 – $2,610. And, just remember: this is just the estimated logistical costs that don’t include the cost for costumes.

Can Be Too Time Consuming

Working on #costumes can be a huge investment in time, which can potentially interfere with work, school, studying, family time, etc. Building a costume can take several weeks, if not several months, depending upon the complexity, the amount of needed research and time to find needed materials. Not everyone can continue to devote the amount of time needed to complete costumes.

Too Many Crowds

Anime and comic conventions are becoming increasingly crowded. This can become frustrating when trying to move through a crowded convention venue in costume. The bulkier the costume, the slower any movement will be through a crowded space. Also, people will want to stop the cosplayer to take pictures. While this is what a lot of cosplayers enjoy doing, after a few hours, it can become frustrating when a cosplayer is ready to take break and can’t because people continue to want to take pictures.

New Security Concerns

As we have posted about recently, in recent years, many conventions have adopted more restrictive policies regarding costumes & props. Some cosplayers are becoming very frustrated by these new restrictions, especially when their costumes & props that they worked hard to make can no longer be taken to a convention.

Bullying, Drama & Conflict within the Cosplay & Costuming Community

Costuming & cosplay is supposed to be fun, but it doesn’t always work out that way for some. Any costumer or cosplayer who has been subjected to bullying, drama, conflict or a combination thereof within the costuming & cosplay community will probably become jaded to a degree, especially if it goes on for a long time. The more someone is subjected to these negative aspects, the more jaded the costumer or cosplayer will become. Many who were once avid costumers or cosplayers abandoned the hobby because of repeated exposure to bullying, drama or conflict.

Developing Other Interests & Hobbies

There’s always the possibility that some cosplayers or costumers will become interested in other hobbies & interests that are outside of costuming, such as gaming or something else. When this happens, the new hobby or interest may supersede costuming & cosplay altogether. There’s nothing wrong with that; it can just happen.

Real Life Events

Real life events can become far more important than any hobbies that someone may have, including costuming & cosplay. Loss of a family member, birth of a child, marriage, divorce, changes in employment, attending school, etc., could potentially supersede costuming & cosplay.

Maybe They’ll Come Back

Just because someone decides to quit costuming or cosplaying doesn’t mean that they might not change their minds in the future. Taking a break may be the best thing that someone needs to do. If they decide to never come back, that’s okay too. This is, after all, a hobby.

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References:

The Evolution of Medieval Armor

Since #armor is an ever-popular aspect of #costuming & #cosplay, we wanted to share this video about the evolution of actual medieval armor, which is likely the basis for various types of armor used by multiple sci-fi, fantasy & gaming franchises. While this video focuses on actual metal armor, many #cosplayers wear metal armor, as do re-enactors. We will also add a disclaimer regarding the accuracy for the reasons shared in the video as to why armor changed over the centuries.