In the past couple weeks, I’m sorry to say, I have unfollowed several female cosplayers on Facebook. I would rather not have done it, but I can’t watch what they’ve become. It’s hard to see a train wreck happening and not to be able to stop it, but who am I to tell them the truth? I’m just some old lady on Facebook, what do I know?
Cosplay can be a wonderful hobby. There are many cosplayers who’ve used it to boost their confidence and make new friends. I’m not worried about them. It’s the other ones I cannot bring myself to watch – the ones who are headed straight for disaster.
They all have the same story:
“I was teased and bullied in school because I was fat, guys said I was ugly, I never got asked out, I never had any friends, and I had no self-esteem. Then I discovered cosplay. Cosplayers accept you no matter what size you are, or what race, or anything like that. So I started cosplaying and all the sudden people tell me I’m pretty. Guys like me! They think I’m hot! Just look at me, I have so much self-esteem now!”
Then they post pictures of themselves pulling down their Batman underpants and hiking up their Wonder Woman tank top and groping themselves.
No, sweetheart. That isn’t self-esteem at all.
You don’t get self-esteem because guys think you’re hot. It’s a belief that you are a worthy human being, right here and right now. You don’t need people to tell you; you know it, within your soul.
Right now you think you’re great because guys finally like you. But what’s going to happen when these guys lose interest in you? Will they take your self-esteem with them when they no longer drool over your shaved mons veneris or your unclothed undercleavage?
Self-esteem comes from the knowledge that you are fine, just the way you are. Your worth does not depend on what other people say. Other people can encourage you to have faith in yourself, but no one can give you self-esteem. It’s something you have to develop on your own – and once you’ve learned it, no one can take it away. When you truly have self-esteem, it won’t matter whether the guys think you’re hot or if the girls are jealous because you’re prettier. Your self-esteem won’t disappear when you run into a girl with bigger boobs or your family calls you weird for dressing like a superhero on weekends.
The cosplayers who get it right are the ones who love comic books or movies and who love dressing up like their favorite characters. They do it no matter what other people tell them because it’s what they love. Finding other cosplayers gives them the chance to realize they’re not weird and stupid and dumb. It’s perfectly okay to dress up in costume and watch Star Trek marathons and write fanfiction. They learn they can celebrate what they love and still be perfectly good people who deserve as much respect and dignity as anyone else. Theoretically, we should know that, but most people don’t. We need others who are like us to reinforce that knowledge and to let us know we can be who we are without being shunned or shamed or abused.
Don’t give anyone the power to decide whether you’re worthy or not. Decide it for yourself. Let this family of cosplaying geeks remind you that following your dreams and doing what you love is a good thing. It’s a strength. It’s power.
Owning that power will make you strong. No one will be able to knock you down and trample you underfoot, ever again. You won’t say “I have self-esteem because _____.” You will simply say, “I have self-esteem.” And then your life won’t wreck out like a train with no brakes.