If you’re not familiar with Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay, I can’t really fault you. I wasn’t going to watch it because, aside from my girl Yaya Han and one lady’s husband, there aren’t other cosplayers of color on the show. Do the producers even know the internet? Cosplaying While Black is a thing on Tumblr, you know? I digress. However, one night Jon-Jon stumbled across it and I started to watch, quickly getting sucked into the drama of figuring out a costume, what fur to use, whether the costume could be done on time and getting to know more about Yaya Han doing cosplay like a boss.
I thought some of the folks on the show were a little melodramatic and I felt that maybe they were turning on the desperation for the cameras, but as an avowed reality show junkie, I didn’t really mind. I was somewhat intrigued and decided to watch the second episode, especially considering that it was filmed at Emerald City Comicon.
In one of the customary dinner scenes we’ve come to expect every reality episode, Yaya Han, Riki LeCotey, Chloe Dykstra, and several other castmembers got into a discussion about weight and cosplaying. Chloe, who came off really cool and super humble in the scene, indicated that she thought it was ridiculous to judge anyone’s cosplay based on weight and that no matter your size, you should be able to cosplay.
Here’s a quick summary from the Heroes of Cosplay page on Syfy.com:
The others go to a wine bar, where Chloe argues that anyone of any silhouette should do any costume they want. Easy for the size-two model-looking lady to say, and Riki reminds her that the internet isn’t usually kind to those who try to break the mold in that way. Yaya thinks Chloe is being naïve, and talks about the “responsibility” of knowing what you look like and being realistic about the roles available to you in cosplay. Chloe doesn’t love these rules, and feels ganged up on by people who take it super-seriously.
As soon as she said it, I knew the internet killa bees were going to descend on these chicks, ready to hand out 1000 lashes. And that they did… Yaya and Riki took to their Facebook pages to try to do some damage control:
Some people blame the editing, others aren’t buying anything Riki or Yaya are selling, others sort of agree but think their comments could have been delivered better, but overall, the show has gotten negative internet criticism for its portrayal of something that is supposed to create a sense of cohesion across all lines.
Being aware of editing, I have to say that the producers of the show would have a hard time editing anything if it wasn’t there in the first place. With that said, I think they had the balls to say what most people are thinking when they see someone who is very overweight cosplaying. Does that make what they said right? Not at all. It is being said though and at least they said it out loud so we all know what to expect from them. I’ve never been a fan of internet thugs, the kind that talk shit on the internet while beating their meat to Jessica Nigri with the right hand and stuffing their faces with Cheetos with the other. Yaya and the others had a forum to discuss something that is always discussed every time we go through Con pictures looking for hot bodies and softer bodies. People don’t just come to look at the hot cosplayers, they come to look at the overweight cosplayers as well. It’s like Showtime at the Apollo: Geek Edition.
We started our Fit For Comic-Con Web Series (new video this Friday!) for this very reason. I personally don’t care what you look like when you cosplay, just rock it out like it’s your job and you need rent, shoe and car note money. I actually applaud people who have the balls to wear cosplay when their bodies aren’t what society deems “attractive” or “hot”. However, I don’t think the Yaya or Riki are lying either.
The reality is it’s tough cosplaying. If you’re fit, but you’ve got stretch marks, or C-section scars, or maybe scars on your legs (I got mine riding my BMX… and I love everyone of them), you’re still going to be judged and you may still feel self-conscious. It’s bad enough that the characters tend to be over-the-top sexy in comics and video games anyway. There’ s not a lot of escape.
And telling people dress up as (insert fat/overweight character here) because that would fit their body type better isn’t the answer either. We’re going off of incorrect representations of what a human body should and can look like anyway. We’re going with someone’s creative and artistic license and trying to cosplay that character. Unless we’re spending a lot of money, we can’t really look like that without Uncle Plastic Surgeon tucking, sucking, and nipping a few things here and there.
I’ve personally not cosplayed because I’m a perfectionist and physically, I’m not where I need to be. If I’m going to spend the money, time, and effort to emulate my favorite characters, I want to look as close to that character as possible. However, if I see a fat Misty Knight, I’m not tripping either. Who the hell has time to judge somebody else negatively when they actually have things to do and a “pot to piss in”? Do you have a “responsibility” to know your “limitations” and cosplay your size accordingly? Nope! That’s where Yaya and/or Riki got it wrong. All you have to do is stay (white, black, Asian, gay, etc.) and die. That’s it! Well, obviously you want to be nice to others… Look, you get the drift.
Why lie? Would Henry Cavill have killed it (and dropped panties) as Superman if he’d weighed in at 300 lbs of fat (not muscle)? Not necessarily. People would have rioted no matter how comfortable he may have felt in his body. Yes, he does get paid to look a certain way, but seriously, do you think there’ll be an overweight Superman or Iron Man anytime soon? Me neither. There are certain expectations to killing it in cosplay. Until the characters body types change, people’s ideas won’t change about how others look dressed as those characters and there’s nothing that can be done about that.
Do you and live your life. Haters gonna hate, so let them hate. There’s nothing wrong with waiting out your cosplay until you hit your goals, just like there’s nothing wrong with working out hard and looking awesome in your cosplay. The only rule you need to follow is to do you and be the best you that you can be and are supposed to be.
Getting upset at Yaya or Riki for speaking a semi-truth about the harsh reality of entertainment isn’t going to solve anything. If you really want to see a change, create your own content or lobby for more diverse content. Support that unconventional content when you find it. And own up to the fact that if you feel a slight discomfort when imagining a 300+ lb. Batman, Joker, Bane, Black Canary, Misty Knight or Vixen running around in comics, then you’re not thinking any differently than Yaya or Riki.
You can catch Heroes of Cosplay on Syfy, Tuesdays at 10/9c.