People about Cosplay...
I think it is just fashion modeling in disguise. (pun intended)
Overall it is a harmless fun. As a creator (artist or writer) there is no greater honor than someone loving your show so much they would dress as your character and even try to be like them. Even against the possible ridicule.
Playing pretend can be fun. And it’s something everyone even families can engage.
But if you look at the most famous and successful cosplayers (as in Twitter famous) they are either:
A) People that could be modeling in mainstream modeling agencies.
This one is the category that gives more envy and disappointment to your average cosplayers. Of course they will get more attention even if your costume is more “comic/book” accurate or well done.
Like I said, cosplaying is basically fashion modeling. They look amazing and it’s nice to see models having a nerdy side.
B) People with awesome disguises that resemble the original show or movie.
In this category you’re judged by your amazing sewing skills.
So for being ultra famous you need to be one of those categories. But if not it’s just harmless fun you do with friends.
Think of it as early Halloween.
Sadly as a lawyer it isn’t professional for me to do this. But I respect people that do.
Interesting question. If the word “cosplay” is referring to what is usually meant, then no, because the costumes in question are those of fictitious characters. There is no “culture” being appropriated. Not even if you wear a Japanese school uniform – because Ayanami Rei, or whoever, is not a Japanese girl, she’s a fictitious character and you are dressing like her.
There’s some interesting weirdnesses to explore though, even in this space. Some thoughtless racist fans were in the habit of making black cosplayers feel uncomfortable. The absurdity of this is almost galactic in proportion because if a black woman can’t dress like Sailor Moon because she’s not Japanese, then why would a white women be able to? She isn’t Japanese, either. And Sailor Moon is not Japanese, she’s fictitious. Obviously, critical thinking is not high on the list of people who are unpleasant to other people.
But the rising tide right now is that cosplay is for everyone and while I don’t myself cosplay, I support this. Dressing up as your favorite character is not cultural appropriation – it is a culture in and of itself. There are folks who cosplay Jane Austen characters and pirates and princesses. Cosplay has its own subculture aesthetic. Merely dressing up is for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
The world has adopted the word cosplay. It’s Wasei-eigo, which means the word was originally created by the Japanese using English as the roots. “Costume play” becomes “cosplay.” There is a world cosplay summit. So I don’t think you can argue that merely using the word is appropriation. Words for things spread. That’s how language works.
Calling offensive stereotype costumes “cosplay” is stretching the word uncomfortably outside what cosplay means, IMHO. Those costumes are meant to represent offensive stereotypes. It’s outside the culture of cosplay itself and is merely wearing a costume in bad taste.
So, I would say no, cosplay is not cultural appropriation, it is its own culture that is open to anyone, anywhere.
I would recommend starting out with something simple.
At my very first anime convention, I only had about a month to prepare and didn’t watch a lot of anime. I did Android 18 from Dragon Ball Z as I had most of her outfit already and had the right hairstyle for it. I only had to do a bit of alteration and get some extra items from eBay.
Each time I have cosplayed since then, I have expanded my range. I discovered I have a knack for props and makeup but am not very good at sewing. Therefore most of my best cosplays have involved some sort of prop or latex bloodwork. I am still practicing my sewing so I can incorporate that as well.
Play to your strengths and you’ll soon discover which areas you prefer to work in.