Nerd Caliber
Nerd Lifestyle Magazine

Cosplay & Style

March 18, 2013

The Pursuit of Cosplay Fame


A few weeks ago, I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline when I stumbled upon what appeared to be a landmine of tweets regarding the finalists chosen for the Less Than Three professional gaming and cosplay group. The tweets fell into two categories – of the congratulatory and celebratory variety, and of the…well…not so celebratory variety.

I watched as fellow female cosplayers complained about the finalists that had been selected. Many of the tweets were bemoaning the plight of the “cosplay underdog,” claiming that the chosen finalists were “already popular,” that they had “enough fans already,” and alleged that you already had to have a sizeable cosplay fanbase to garner any recognition within the community.

It got me thinking about the emphasis we as cosplayers have been placing on fan pages and fan bases within the community. Lately, it feels like we’re starting to prioritize “fans” and “likes” over such archaic concepts as “passion” and “craftsmanship.”  As cosplay has begun to garner the attention of mainstream media – landing us on reality shows and in national news coverage – have we started to approach this hobby more strategically? Are we still cosplaying for fun, or are we cosplaying for fame?

On any given day, my Facebook newsfeed is typically a technicolor smorgasbord of cosplay fan page posts, mostly because I enjoy supporting my friends and following cosplayers whose work I admire. On one hand, I think the influx of fan pages on Facebook – brought on in part by the mass deletion of cosplay profiles last year – can be a good thing. It allows us to exchange information with people we meet at cons and gives us a safe, easy way to keep up with each other. Full disclosure: I have a cosplay page myself, and I love sharing pictures, links and talking about all sorts of things – cosplay related or not – with the people who choose to follow my page.

But on the other hand, I think in a lot of ways, the marriage of cosplay and social media has turned our hobby into more of a popularity contest than ever before. Now, cosplayers solicit and compete for likes. There’s more significance placed on physical sex appeal and on glamorous, heavily edited images. The higher the fan count on their page, the more talented the cosplayer is perceived to be. Cosplay Photographers are starting to become highly sought after rock stars in their own regard – which, considering all the work they do, is well deserved – but in many cases, they’re treated as nothing more than a stepping stone for exposure. Recently, many of my photographer friends have struggled with the fact that some cosplayers don’t even give them credit when sharing the pictures they took.

Yaya Han recently touched on the effect social media has had on the cosplay community in a series of tweets. “Social Media has made cosplay more about surface glam,” Han tweeted. “It’s easier to hide your flaws and show off your good side.”

“It’s brought cosplayers around the world closer,” she went on to tweet. “But we are no longer measured by our costumes, but by our page likes.” Truth be told, when my own page’s fan count was in the below 500 range, it was oftentimes difficult for me to be taken seriously within the community – by both cosplayers and photographers alike. Is there something I’m missing? Do fan page numbers really mean that much? In a community filled with people who share a hobby that is still pretty heavily side-eyed by society in general, why do we treat people differently based on how popular we think they are?

Jessica Nigri working on her Gears of War cosplay outfit.

If someone is considered too popular, we call their devotion to their fandoms, their costume work, even aspects of their physical anatomy into question. She got here by being pretty, we say. She’s not deserving of her success. I am forever blown away by the fact that Jessica Nigri had to post pictures of herself holding power tools, in the process of working on her costumes on her page in an attempt to get people to stop saying she doesn’t do her own work. She shouldn’t have to do that. None of us should.

But on the other hand, if someone isn’t considered popular enough, we dismiss them. One of my new favorite cosplayers has about 200 fans on her page, tops. Yet, her work is incredible – and doesn’t need thousands of people to like her page to prove it. Another one of my favorites doesn’t have a social media presence at all, beyond a personal Facebook profile for friends. She’s phenomenally talented and I would kill for even a fraction of her skill – but she doesn’t have a fan page. Does that mean she’s not legit? Is she unworthy of your time because she doesn’t have thousands of people following a Facebook page?

Don’t get me wrong – networking within the community is fine. I do it myself. Developing your own personal cosplay “brand” is fine. I do it myself. There’s no denying that the somewhat newfound interest by the mainstream media in our hobby means that if you position yourself correctly, you can find yourself on the receiving end of some pretty sweet opportunities – we might as well be upfront about that. But there’s definitely a divisive line being drawn between cosplayers who are considered “popular” (which oftentimes leads people to believe they aren’t deserving of their ‘fame,’ which is another post entirely) and cosplayers who are not. And we’re pitting ourselves against each other, when we really shouldn’t be.

“I think it’s important to mention why I even have a cosplay page,” Cosplayer Marie Grey wrote on her fan page recently. “I’m not here to generate likes and become ‘cosplay famous.’ I’m here to share my work with others, teach those who seek my help, and learn from those who came before me.”

Mad respect for this girl. I think she’s got the right idea.

About the Author

Chaka Cumberbatch
Chaka Cumberbatch is a freelance journalist, anime brand manager and superhero cosplayer based in Dallas-Fort Worth. A girl detective to the core, she is always hunting down her next story - and working on her next costume. You can find her tweeting about comic books, drag queens, superheroes and more at @princessology .



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  1. Tiffany Nguyen

    This is an excellent post and I'm glad somebody is finally bringing this subject up.

    I think having a Facebook page for your hobbies (whether it's rock climbing, painting or cosplay) is a wonderful idea, but at the same time, I feel like some people are doing it strictly to get more likes and/ get a chance to achieve "fame", rather than simply sharing what they love to the internet. Here are a few things I've noticed some cosplayers do to their page that I find kind of questionable/cringe-worthy:

    1. Throwing a giveaway contest where you have to LIKE their page, SHARE the post and make it public, and sometimes you have to COMMENT on it. This is clearly to get garner more likes and hits. Why is that so important? Why can't you just throw a giveaway for people who are ALREADY your fans?

    2. Posting your Amazon wishlist and/ a Paypal Donate button on your Facebook page. Seriously, why would you want to take advantage of your page/fans like that?

    3. When they're posting more about their poster sales than anything cosplay-related.

  2. Jeff Allen

    Chaka, you stated, "One of my new favorite cosplayers has about 200 fans on her page, tops."
    Who is this new cosplayer? I am curious. I absolutely love seeing new talent in their early years, then watch them grow and blossom into powerhouses.

  3. I guess it's all facebook's fault since the first thing it puts at the top are likes and insights 🙂

    So as far as I am concerned it's all practicality. I travel to quite a few events around Europe and I've never met people and started talking about how many likes the have. Since more and more people have pages it's more difficult to tag private individuals in your posts. This is of particular importance when photographer have pages, if you want your pictures without having to download them one by one.

    People were whoring for attention before this trend came along and they will continue to do so. Blogs, websites, groups, forums and gossip… this is an issue as old as the world it's just Facebook that changed the medium. With the expanding of the field more people of diverging opinions will appear, good or bad, modest or… less so.

  4. "whoring for attention"
    You hit the nail RIGHT on the head.
    These fake-nerds have taken over our cons unfortunately…

  5. And Cosplaying girls always wonder why they're frequently getting quizzed on their "nerdiness"…This article shows the reason why. If you cosplay for fame & not fun, then you're just an attention whore and a faux-nerd. It aggrivates true nerds/cosplayers such as myself to NO end.

  6. also great are these cosslut pictures. how bitchy is it to make cosplay pantsu-pics and close-topless shots just for clicks? no wonder where the bad reputation comes from…i've got some cosplays, and I wear them also in my daily life, they are usually simple seifuku and I just feel comfortable in them…but I don't need to pose around in them everywere. I do that cuz I like the series, sorta can identify myself with the character and not to be in the spotlight and a bunch of deperate guys can drool to my pictures -.- so yeah – "whoring for attention" fits totally as describtion for todays cosplay "community".

  7. Bravo! Brilliantly written, and wonderfully true.

    I recently wrote about this subject as well, but your's is by far better. It has been shared.

  8. Well written & said! I agree completely! Ive been writing about this subject for months. Seems the reason we got into this: "FUN" seems to be disappearing in place of fame & popularity, it's sad….

  9. I am a cosplayer that frequently feels like the underdog because of the so called pressure for likes.
    I hate how FB, tumblr and other forms of social media are pressing us to try to become famous, forcing us to feel like we need to be perfect and accurate in order to have people to "like" our stuff.

    With other cosplay websites, its just causing the pressure to grow. Jealousy grows, anger ensues, cosplayers get hurt, cosplay bullies increase in numbers and in all seriousness, we are becoming our own enemies. We have placed the cosplayers with "more likes" on such a high pedistal to the point where that it discourages other cosplayers that just started out. Its as if we have turned Cosplaying into a Kingdom were there are Cosplay Kings and Queens while the rest of us are peasents.

    When did this just happen?
    I remember that cosplaying was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be crazy where you would rock out with other fans of the same series as you. I remember that cosplaying was supposed to bring smiles to the fans faces and your face as well. It was a methods for us cosplaying nerds to join forces and find friends. It was a way to say "Hey, I am not so alone as I thought. There are other people doing the same thing as I."

    Honestly, as other people said, its Facebook's fault and the social media but who is allowing that to happen? Answer: The cosplayers that are seeking the attention to be considered the "best (whatever character here)" and the cosplayers that are allowing themselves to be controlled by this notion.

    Plain and simple: Everyone is the best at what they do. We don't need to prove to anyone that we are "perfect." Inside, as long as you did your best, had fun, made new, fun memories and formed new friendships, you are perfect.
    Cosplaying is supposed to be enjoyable for you and its supposed to be awesome. Its not a popularity contest and it should never be treated as one.

    We are all beautiful individuals with the same fandoms and the same interests.

  10. I made my page a while back when I started getting too many friend requests from people I had never met. (Facebook Pages were MUCH simpler to use back then.)
    It was a way to keep my personal page private for friends and people I've actually met yet still be able to share my work publicly with whomever wanted to see it and stay updated with what I was doing cosplay-wise. I chose to make a page, instead of a new account, because it was against Facebook's terms of use to make multiple accounts, as many cosplayers found out the hard way when their cosplay accounts were deleted with no warning about a year ago.
    Naturally, those people made pages and since it's been almost a year, those pages getting some traffic are causing this sudden attention to the effect of "likes" on people's attitudes. Facebook Pages are technically made for businesses. Anyone who has a page understands. There are graphs and insights EVERYWHERE as to your fan's activity and liking activity. It's easy for someone who's new to pages to get caught up in the numbers.
    No one ever had a hissyfit over people who had a lot of followers on Deviantart or Tumblr pages because they don't emphasize numbers like Facebook does. It didn't instill this "celebrity mentality" into people. Then again, it's much easier for people to "like and follow" a Facebook page.
    It's a very interesting dichotomy.

  11. I think the whole "likes" thing is especially interesting when we consider how Facebook makes us pay to reach all of our likers. YouTube isn't much better for getting noticed. dA is probably the best, but of course, there are far fewer dA users than there are Facebook users.
    Also, I'd like to add that when someone on the internet has a lot of traffic, there is money to be made (even in small amounts). A lot of us are on tight budgets, so having income generated from a hobby would be great!

  12. Chaka Cumberbatch

    I completely agree! I routinely direct cosplay-related friend requests to my page instead, for my own personal comfort and safety.

  13. I DISAGREE with your sentiment!
    Lorenzo, first of all, your post comes across as sexist. There are plenty of girls who cosplay, and I have never met ONE (aside from paid booth babes) who didn't like the show or game they were cosplaying from.
    Second of all, people like you, the "con-elitists" are the reason this is even a problem. Faux-nerd? Since when do we have to pass a test to be considered a nerd? That doesn't even make sense. Should an anime and game fan look down on a comic book fan for not knowing the basics of DBZ, Sailor Moon or naruto? or vice versa?
    I don't know what made you think you're such a "true" nerd, but honey, pull the stick outta your ass.

  14. I really don't care for likes much anymore. They seem like cookies in a lunchbox a nice surprise, but not needed.

  15. This was a really well thought out article! Thumbs up from me.

    It's funny because this topic came up in one of my social circles recently. A friend is bordering desperate at wanting to be cosplay famous and the fixation worries me a bit. I kind of worry this is a thing that's going to hurt a lot of people.

    To answer Tiffany Nguyen on something! I recently did a share/like give away because my stats on my page were only 8% women. I found this PRETTY depressing, so I wanted to even it out more (so I could talk more about things like progress without feeling like no one would care etc). So there can be perfectly good reasons for doing it outside of a simple popularity contest.

    I do agree that when poster/prints are every other damn post on a cosplayers page I do want to bash my head in though, Lol. I've had to unfollow some people for that because I can't deal with the boring reposts even though I love their work!

  16. I agree. I grew up watching anime, because I lived in SF right next to Japantown and all I used to do every weekend was go buy anime. I recently got into pepakura to start building my own costumes and I was damn good at it. I did all of this FOR ME, not for fame, not to sell my stuff and sure as hell not for friends. When I see cosplay girls (the guilty ones) taking what so many others have done ~ including myself ~ and shitting on it, I can't help but be angry at the ones responsible.

  17. Martha Beaudin He's not being sexist, so you can stop throwing that word around at anyone who can make call the women responsible out on their actions. Second, this article was written by a woman, she saw this problem too, why can't you? Faux-nerd is a term used to describe people who *key word* "pretend" to enjoy video games, anime, comics, web comics, etc. just to look desirable to that community. If you cant see why that's wrong, then please see your way out of this conversation.

  18. LOL – It's kinda funny that you accuse me of being sexist, yet all the likes on my comment are from females. I love fe-nerds and cosplaying girls but what I hate are EXHIBITIONIST (which are mostly female).
    Anyways you can pretend you don't understand what I'm saying all you want. If you cosplay for fame then you're not a nerd. Yaya Han said it herself.
    But to each their own – now have a nice day 🙂

  19. Martha Beaudin , halleloooo <3
    I wouldn't stick contacts in my eyes/ be uncomfortable all day/spend money on materials if I didn't really love the characters.

  20. Orest Hawryliw

    I thought/wished/hoped you were not one dimensional like a lot of people are, recently. /disappointed

  21. Jason Johnson

    I likes Jessica Nigri's statement at the bottom. Cosplayers should never ask for donations or such from fans it is never about money but should be about having fun. Using cosplay to sell photos/prints/ random items even if they are made by said cosplayer or get more likes on your page by "contests" telling other to share you for some random prize and like you is just wrong and is "fan" abuse. What next? contet where that when the person hits 100,000 likes they will give the person a pair of their panties?

  22. Jason Johnson

    I likes Jessica Nigri's statement at the bottom. Cosplayers should never ask for donations or such from fans it is never about money but should be about having fun. Using cosplay to sell photos/prints/ random items even if they are made by said cosplayer or get more likes on your page by "contests" telling other to share you for some random prize and like you is just wrong and is "fan" abuse. What next? contests where that when the person hits 100,000 likes they will give the person a pair of their panties?

  23. I only found you from that post, because of volpin props. I am a huge volpin prop fan. I am a massive borderlands fan, and am only just learning about cosplay. I can't believe I didn't find your video on YouTube, because I typed in the Heavy's song because it's so epic. I think it's just the way the internet is, it's hard to get a voice when the ones who shout loudest, and have the largest popularity wins. Or a depressed looking cat for instance.
    Anyway, I'm glad volpin props brought me here, I love your stuff, and your cover of Short Change Hero was epic! 🙂

  24. Patrick does your and Lorenzo's talk include guys that do this too? I agree with that I know girls that pretend to like something so they don't seem completely out of touch with something a guy they may be crushing on likes, BUT I also know plenty of guys that pretend as well. I think Martha is just trying to point out this whole fake geek girl thing that's been going on forever. It's just silly BOTH girls AND guys can be fake geeks. I could go into wars about my favorite anime, manga, game, or comic book character with anyone. But if they don't know what I'm talking about does that make them a "fake" nerd? No. They could just be nerdy for something else. My point in this was just more of saying their are fake nerd guys and girls and the reason that Lorenzo's comment could have been taken as sexist was because he was implying that just women do this to be attention whores. Yes yes I know this was written by a woman, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she aimed it just at women it can go both ways.

  25. Harrison Krix

    Not really a lot you can genuinely learn about a person from their posts on a facebook fanpage, Orest. Don't know why you think attempting to diversify one's audience is "one dimensional"

  26. Alyssa Davies

    You do know nerds can be attention whores too, right? SHOCKING

    And how the hell do you know someone is a "fake nerd"? You don't know their interests unless they tell you, its a HUGE assumption to make that because someone likes attention means they aren't an actual nerd. They're a nerd if they identify as one. We're not an exclusive community.Why be exclusive?

  27. Alyssa Davies

    It's not even like they're ruining your life or making you any less of a nerd! bahahaha
    If they are… then you've got some issues you should consider resolving

  28. Lorenzo Taylor II Wow, people come to conventions for different reasons.

  29. Competition is why we were able to out of the caves and into houses. This is human nature.

  30. I believe the reason for aborigines for leaving their caves was for hunting and gathering.

    Not to see how many FB likes they can get in their newest, most photoshoped, cosplay photoshot.

  31. yes I feel like same here that " There’s more significance placed on physical sex appeal and on glamorous, heavily edited images. The higher the fan count on their page, the more talented the cosplayer is perceived to be." just have a fun doing cosplays and most cosplayers not care with facebook numbers.

  32. Orest Hawryliw I literally have no clue how on Earth this makes me one dimensional. Please explain.

  33. Rhiannon Jones wahhh! I forgot to check this post after I made it, sorry! Thank you for the compliment though, that's really sweet. o/ BORDERLANDS FTW. <3

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