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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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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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.