10 things you should NEVER say to a cosplayer.
Whether you’re at a convention or talking to a cosplayer online or in-person, there are things you should never say to a cosplayer. Sometimes it’s unintentional, other times it’s just disrespectful. That’s why I made this post; to educate you guys who don’t know and would like to avoid pissing off any cosplayers.
Today, I will talk about 10 things you should NEVER say to a cosplayer. I’ll explain them all in detail, and then I’ll show how to avoid doing so in the future!
Let’s get started!
1.Putting down or shaming someone else’s cosplay (One of the lesser-known things)
Let’s say you’re at a convention and you see someone cosplaying as Joker from Batman. You go up to him and say, “I love your Joker cosplay! You look way better than all those fat/ugly/slutty cosplayers dressed as Harley Quinn!”
You’re entitled to your opinion but you shouldn’t be shaming anyone to a cosplayer. Because when you’re shaming someone else, you don’t know who you’re putting down. A compliment at the expense of someone else is not a good compliment.
In this case, the Joker may not take that comment very well. What if he likes Harley Quinn? What if his girlfriend cosplays a very revealing Harley Quinn? What if his girlfriend happens to be fat? By putting down those Harley Quinn cosplayers, you’re probably either insulting him or someone related to him.
So the next time you complement a cosplayer, don’t do it at the expense of someone else. Keep it positive.
If you want to learn more about how to properly compliment a cosplayer, click here to read my article on how to do so!
2. Asking to exclude someone when you’re taking a group cosplay photo (i.e. “Can I only take a picture of the attractive cosplayers?”)
This is one of those things that one that will fly over many people’s heads.
When you approach a group of cosplayers and ask for their photo, you need to careful who you include and more importantly, who you EXCLUDE. Because you could piss off and hurt someone’s feelings if you do it wrong.
Here me out.
Let’s say you see a group of Naruto cosplayers together: 4 girls cosplaying Naruto, Kakashi, Sasuke and Sakura. You want to take their photo! They all look good…except for the Sakura. Maybe the Sakura’s cosplay material is very low quality compared to her friends. Or she’s not as attractive as the other 3 (as shallow as that sounds). In either case, you don’t want a picture of that Sakura – you just want a picture of the Naruto, Kakashi and Sasuke.
So the interaction goes something like this:
You: Excuse me! I love your cosplays! Can I take a photo of you guys?
Naruto Group: Sure! (They all get their poses ready)
You: Oh actually, I just wanted a picture of you 3 (you point at Naruto, Sasuke and Kakashi). Not you, Sakura.
Everyone: Uhh…okay…. (Sakura steps aside)
You: (take the photo)…thank you!
Everyone: Uhh…. Sakura: (internally pissed off
The Sakura DEFINITELY knows you’re excluding her for the exact reasons I listed above. And you’re definitely going to piss her off after you take the photo without her in it. It’ll likely ruin her con experience because you probably won’t be the last person to exclude them from a group photo.
I’ll explain how to work around this, later in the post.
3. Asking for a photo at the wrong time.
This is another one of the never say to a cosplayer that is not so obvious. I talk about this in great detail in a previous post.
If you ask for a cosplayer’s photo, most of the time they’ll be more than happy to pose for you. However there are times when it’s inappropriate to do so, such as: when they’re eating or taking a break, when they need to be somewhere else (like a panel or masquerade) or when they’re trying to fix their cosplays (malfunctions happen all the time). Don’t piss off a cosplayer by asking for a photo during these moments. Learn more about photo consent at conventions in this post!
This video below by Fandom Spotlite gives a great explanation on photo etiquette at a convention!
4. Unsolicited feedback about their costume (one of the most common convention pet peeves).
You run into someone who is cosplaying one of your favourite characters. You might have good intentions when you suggest how they could improve their cosplay.
But trust me; most cosplayers don’t want to hear any criticism or suggestions about their costume AT THE CON. Why? Because they likely have spent hours upon hours working on their costume, so they know their flaws with their costume. The convention can be stressful as it is; the last thing they want to hear is unsolicited criticism. This really is another one of those convention pet peeves!
5. Talking bad about the cosplay character itself.
We all have fandoms that we absolutely love and ones that we totally dislike. However, some people enjoy expressing their hate towards certain fandoms, especially if a cosplayer is dressed up as a character from that fandom. This is something you do NOT want to do.
Although you probably didn’t mean to insult the cosplayer, the cosplayer certainly won’t feel that way. In fact, you will piss off a cosplayer because you’re insulting the passionate fandom they’re cosplaying as.
For example, let’s say you’re cosplaying Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. You love the show and personally enjoy what Ed believes in (i.e. he’s a hard-headed kid but truly cares about the people around him). Well, what if some stranger came up to you at the con and told you how much Edward Elric SUCKED? How he’s so incredibly stupid, that it’s his own fault for losing his own arm? That he’s not a role model for ANYONE watching the show? You’d be pretty pissed off, wouldn’t you?
It happens though. I remember when the Beauty and the Beast came out; my friend made a post about how much she loved the live animation remake. Then some guy replied to her post; he basically trashed the movie and pointed out every single flaw of the movie (from casting Emma Watson to how bad it was compared to the original Disney movie). Needless to say, my friend was PISSED at this guy.
You may not like a series but you don’t need to tell a cosplayer who is cosplaying from that fandom.
6. How “inaccurate” someone’s cosplay is.
Cosplay accuracy is one of those hotly debated topics on the community. I did an entire article about whether you should cosplay for accuracy or not, depending on your preferences (if you want to read, click here). But in short, you don’t need to worry about accuracy if you don’t find it fun.
With that said however, there are those who believe you HAVE to cosplay a character and look EXACTLY the way they look in the Anime, video game, comic, etc. If you don’t, you’re “doing it all wrong” or “doing the character injustice.” And this is a mentality you shouldn’t have. Everyone cosplays for their own reasons, and everyone has their own way of interpreting a character.
So one thing you should never say to a cosplayer is about how inaccurate their cosplay is.
7. How “bad” someone’s cosplay is (seriously, why would you do this?).
I’ve had this happen to me once, and my other friends have had this happen to them. Someone will come up to them and criticize their costume. This is definitely one of those things you should NEVER say to a cosplayer. Seriously, why would you do this? You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger on the street and tell them how bad their clothing or outfit is. So why would you do the same to a cosplayer?
8. Sexual compliments.
This one is a little tricky, because everyone is different. But giving a cosplayer a sexual compliment is something I would not recommend saying to a cosplayer, especially if you don’t know them. At a convention, feeling safe is very important, and a sexually-related compliment can put someone on high alert. Everyone is always looking out for “creepers” and if you say anything sexual to someone you don’t know, then you may put yourself on “creeper” alert.
My advice is if you see a “sexy” cosplayer at a convention and want a photo, go ahead and ask for one. But treat them normally as you would with any other cosplayer, with respect and dignity.
9. “Let me touch your (cosplay prop)!”
How would you feel if someone touched your property without asking? Like your car, your video game handheld system or your smartphone? How about your cosplay prop? Surprisingly, this happens pretty often. Con attendees will approach a cosplayer and start touching and holding their cosplay prop (sword, staff, fur)… without even asking! Cosplayers get pissed off when this happens, because the last thing they want is a broken prop.
Once while I was resting, I actually had someone pick up my Marth sword and started swinging it around. The guy ended up breaking part of my sword. To be fair, the sword was starting to fall apart. But his recklessness only accelerated how fast it broke. Needless to say, this wasn’t just one of those convention pet peeves; I was pretty pissed off!
So you should never say to a cosplayer that you’re just going to touch their prop. Always ask first.
10. Accusing cosplayers of not being genuine fans of the series.
While it’s true that Cosplay is very mainstream these days, it doesn’t mean all cosplayers are “posers.” That means the hot chick that’s cosplaying from League of Legends, may actually play League of Legends!
It’s quite the insult to go up to a cosplayer and say they’re not genuine fans of the series they are cosplaying. They may not know as much as you do about the series, but it doesn’t mean they are posers. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume they are genuine fans of the series
How to avoid these scenarios
Alright, so I explained 10 common ways how you could accidentally piss off a cosplayer at an Anime convention. Here’s how to make sure these things don’t happen:
Don’t be judgmental.
Come to an Anime convention with no judgment and an open mind. Not only will you have a better time, but the cosplayers you interact with will appreciate it as well. Whichever way you feel about a cosplayer – whether their cosplay sucks, or you feel another cosplay is too revealing or you feel that your suggestions could make someone’s cosplay better – trust me, keep those comments to yourself. Unless the cosplayer specifically asks you for your feedback, they don’t want to hear it (especially at a con). So make sure you attend the con with an open mind and a non-judgmental attitude, and you won’t have any issues with problem #1, #4, #5, and #10.
Ask for permission first.
A lot of these ways you could piss off a cosplayer involve doing something without asking for permission. So when in doubt, just ask the cosplayer if they’re cool with what you’re doing. This applies to asking to take their cosplay photo when it’s appropriate to do so (#3 and #6), whether you can take a photo with them together (#8) or touching their cosplay or their props (#9). I myself ask permission for things not even on this list. For example, when I take a photo of the convention area itself, I let the people who are beside me know that I’m taking a hallway shot. Communication is key!
How to deal with #2 (Excluding someone when you’re taking a group cosplay photo).
I get it. You want a picture of the good cosplayers except for one of them, who isn’t as good as their friends. But you don’t have to exclude that particular cosplayer when you ask for their photo. There are a couple ways around this:
- If it’s for personal use or collection, then just take a photo of them all. I don’t see the big deal. Just take a photo of them all, ignore the bad cosplayer and move on.
- If you really want a photo without the bad cosplayer, then ask for a few different photos of them. Going back to the Naruto group example, go up to them and ask if you can take a few different photos of them all, including:
i) Selfie of all four cosplayers (Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi)
ii) Snap a photo of Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi
iii) Take a photo of Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke
iv) And then take a photo of Naruto, Sasuke and Kakashi (the photo you really wanted)
See what happened there? You got your photo without excluding anyone. It’s a win-win for everybody! To be honest though, I don’t expect people to do this cause it would be too much work for most. Not to mention that some people aren’t as caring to go through with this. Still, if you want to be kind and still get the photo you want, this is the way to do it.
To summarize, here are the 10 things you should never say to a cosplayer:
- Putting down or shaming someone else’s cosplay.
- Excluding someone when you’re taking a group cosplay photo.
- Asking for a photo at the wrong time.
- Unsolicited feedback about their costume.
- Talking bad about the cosplay character itself.
- How “inaccurate” someone’s cosplay is.
- How “bad” someone’s cosplay is.
- Sexual compliments.
- “Let me touch your (cosplay prop)!”
- Accusing cosplayers of not being genuine fans of the series.
There you have it! 10 things you should NEVER say to a cosplayer!
Have you ever experienced any of these things as a cosplayer or attendee? Are there other things I missed? Let me know in the comments!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!