Newsflash: Everyone Should Be Able To Cosplay As Whatever The Hell They Want To

Dedicated cosplayers will tell you that the real spirit of cosplay is supposed to be about having fun, making friends, paying homage to your favourite characters, and perhaps even about challenging yourself. Even so, some cosplayers demand absolute 'accuracy' when it comes to cosplay: and this can make things turn ugly.

What if, for instance, you're not the right gender? Body size? Or in in Chaka Cumberbatch's case, what if you're not the right skin color?

Writing for xoJane, Cumberbatch explained much of the abuse and criticism she receives is because she dares to cosplay as characters that aren't black.

"After my pictures started making the rounds on deviantArt, tumblr and 4chan," she wrote, "it became pretty clear that my cosplay brings all the racists to the yard, and they're like…white cosplay is better than yours."

Despite going through painstaking measures to get a cosplay of Sailor Venus right (as an example) — from the accessories to the wig — she got some pretty nasty, racist comments. See, for instance:

"For a black cosplayer (not to be racist) she did an amazing job!" the original Tumblr post read. It was later was edited to include "I love her skin tone" after all hell broke loose.

Online, I was "Nigger Venus," and "Sailor Venus Williams" because I am black.

Some even accused her of ruining a character, which is completely absurd.

"The characters might not be real, but the racism is," Cumberbatch lamented.

And this isn't an isolated case; on websites like Tumblr, seeing comments like these are common. It's a shame because it's clear that many people who might not be "within range" of a character truly love cosplay anyway: and isn't that what matters?

Plus, as Chaka smartly observes: who in the world can actually say they look like people they cosplay, when so many characters in media are completely unrealistic?

Here's hoping that cosplay enthusiasts don't get discouraged from pursuing their passion because some of the community is hurtful. You should be able to cosplay as whatever you want.

But when you look at the harassment cosplayers undergo, could you blame someone for hesitating?

You can see more of Chaka Cumberbatch's great cosplay here.

I'm a Black Female Cosplayer And Some People Hate It [xoJane]


    Well after looking at her cosplay gallery the only thing that worried me was the little girl in a pink Darth Vader costume...I mean, that's just racist!

    As for Chaka...well she'll just have to be content with being a goddess...

    I know it's wrong, but damn.. I couldn't help but giggle at the Sailor Venus Williams :0

      It's not wrong because its funny!

    So this article really isn't about cosplaying 'incorrectly' at all... Just blatant racism.

      Yeah, I felt like the focus of the article was a little narrow. It could have been expanded to include a lot of other things but instead we ended up with only one topic of discussion.

    Mmm, I have no clue what half of the people are when they cosplay, I just see cool costuming hopefully on girls (or guys) I can perv on. Black, White, Asian or "other". I am an equal opportunity objectifier of those who wish to be objectified.

    I wonder how much of the racism is actually just nerd pedantry though? I mean that weird thing nerds do when they don't know that their need for exact replicas (and telling everybody about it) makes them seem like cunts. There is always that troll who tries to degrade people so I need more evidence that these people are truly victimised. I know its harsh but this is the Internet and that generally comes with anon pricks. Racism, insensitivity and cutting remarks.

    So.... how much is just the "Heimdall" type it really insensitive to say something when it goes the other way... Black Panther can't be a White guy right. I mean there WOULD be a uproar if a white guy was getting around as ANY black icon right. Just wondering??

      It's really one of those "welcome to the internet" moments isn't it.

    lol i must have made the worst Asuma at SDCC last year, coz im fat. So im not allowed to cosplay as anyone except maybe, Rufus from Street fighters

      Or Choji!

        see im prob not fat ENOUGH for Choji in all honesty lol. Plus i went as Asuma as an excuse to grow a bear :P

      Pretty much.
      I think she's done a great job. It doesn't matter that she's black, the costume still works and she's still put in a hell of a lot of effort into it.

        yeah at first i didnt even see where the issue was when i looked at the photo coz looked like an awesome cos play. Then it slowly dawned on me that narrow minded bigotry was at play again.

    I am going to ozcon as Al Jolson.

    Last edited 05/02/13 8:36 pm

    Very pretty.

    The race doesn't matter, that has already been covered, super heroes have been changing race and even gender for a while. Boobies matter most in a costume contest I think and she has lovely ones.

      If that's the case then I'm screwed. Guess i better stop cosplaying then

    So does this mean i can paint my face black and cosplay as Luke Cage? I mean if anybody can cosplay as anything they wont that's cool right?

      You can cosplay as Luke Cage if you like, sure. Painting your face black is something completely separate though.

    Just another prime example of how wonderful people can be on the internet. Of course, people can be racist or homophobic dicks without the internet, but the anonymity it provides just makes it so damn easy for them!

    what is wrong with my posting today?

    Last edited 06/02/13 9:38 am

    Yet another SJ article care of P. Hernandez. God this gets old fast.
    However, I have to agree with this one 100%. Anyone should be able to cosplay as anything without fear of persecution.
    Ms. Cumberbatch there certainly doesn't deserve it just for having a different skin colour; that shit is whack.

    Maybe I'm just looking through different lenses but the first example of "pretty nasty" comments doesn't really seem to be the big, nasty, racist drivel it's made out to be. I just think it's an awkward way of saying that as someone who is of a different nationality and therefore body structure and skin tone did a good job of cosplaying someone who was an entirely different nationality and skin colour...

    Believe it or not, in the world of fashion, your skin colour matters. If you want to look good, you need to wear colours that match your tone. This also applies to make up and accessories. For someone of a darker skin tone to pull off a costume made for a lighter skin tone well, it's impressive work.

    Heck, if you really want to get into details, since most anime characters are, in essence, Asian, white people do a pretty good job of cosplaying them...

      The problem is that by making the exception, the comment comes across that her skin colour is an obstacle to overcome. That being black is a disability. .

      The poster probably didn't mean it that way, but that is essentially what they said.

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