People about Cosplay...
When judging whether something is cultural appropriation, ask first: is there a cultural double standard that praises the borrower while punishing those whose behaviors/styles are being borrowed from? If not, then the second test is to see if the thing being borrowed has religious/spiritual/historical significance the borrowers are disregarding or disrespecting for the sake of ‘cool’. Finally, does the act of borrowing reinforce stereotypes?
To answer your question, No. Cosplaying in the past hasn’t been used to marginalize, dehumanize, or stereotype the Japanese people. Cosplay has no major religious, political, or spiritual significance, even in Japan it is considered a commercial hobby. Cultural Appropriation is problematic because the hegemonic group (in the US case, white people) get praise for behaviors the group that they borrowed the practice from get penalized for (in this case, Japanese otaku). However, Japanese otaku have the same or superior status as American Cosplayers at US Conventions and English language internet. Japanese Otaku are not facing a double standard when compared to white otaku that favors White otaku.
There are some racists who may say white cosplayers look more like the anime/video game characters then Japanese cosplayer, but those types tend to be seen as racists and pariahs in most well-balanced cosplay communities. Most people tend to think the Japanese have very high quality cosplay.
Pick your favorite character, or one you would have the most interest in creating, and start looking for items that can be turned into props. Go to the thrift stores and find clothing that can be altered, or may even work as it. Figure out how to do an ‘adaptation’ of a character – for instance, I have a Rarity (My Little Pony) costume that is a purple skirt, purple and white blouse, large white hat and purple wig. I have either white or purple heels to go with it, but I forget which. Everything except the wig was repurposed out of my own closet.
If you haven’t done any costuming at all before, pick a character that usually wears ‘street clothes’. There are also a ton of eBay sellers out there that offer custom made cosplays, but you have to be careful and read reviews about their sizing – a lot of them tend to run small. I’ve also bought stand alone pieces like corsets, boots, purses, etc., from eBay and Etsy. This one store on eBay sold cheap corsets for ten bucks each – they didn’t stand up to long term use, but they did work for about a year of conventions, each, and held up pretty good for the per-wear price. Anything you buy from a China eBay seller, plan to give it a month lead time. I usually get wigs and whatnot within 2-3 weeks, but the sellers usually say to allow for 30 days. And there are a lot of good inexpensive wigs on eBay too!
If you don’t sew, there are a lot of ways to get started, even if you aren’t crafty at all! those are skills you can pick up later on if you have a desire to.
Cosplay is full of fun and creativity!
I don’t do cosplay but I do have a lot of friends within the community. Some of them do it for fun but most of them take cosplay as a job and it is their passion.
I’m an anime con goer and I know that cosplaying a certain character from scratch is difficult and take a lot of resources. From creating the costume, studying the character traits and personality and interacting with people while you’re in disguise, sure it needs a lot of confidence, energy and creativity.
Seeing your favorite character in person is amusing enough but to take a photo with them is a different experience.
I know that not all cosplayers are perfect, there are limitations since we’re humans after all. Regardless, you should respect them and don’t judge them. If they’re missing something like a detail on their costume or unable to do what the actual character does, you don’t know their history before deciding to cosplay that character. What I’m saying is, you can approach them in a nicely manner and tell them what does the character do and any improvement she/he can do for this character in the future. This method always work with me and my friends. Cosplayers are also fan of the character they portray, they’re open-minded and open for feedback since they’re like a public figure. Just make sure to be nice and I’m pretty sure that they will return it.
I just hate people who judges cosplayers based on their physical appearance. They can’t even cosplay the character itself, why do they need to attack the person? There are times when toxicity is inevitable in cosplay community but it doesn’t mean that you can always attack people who loves to cosplay. If you have a negative thing to say, keep it to yourself.
For cosplayers out there, just continue what you’re doing! Be proud and always look up. Conventions will not be alive and active without you guys!