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Cosplay Convos: It’s Okay to Not Be Accurate in Cosplay

“Good cosplay, but you got the hair color wrong.”

“It would be better if your boobs were bigger, more like the character’s.” “It’s a shame they didn’t make the outfit light up like it does in the game.”

If you’re a cosplayer, you’ve no doubt gotten feedback like the comments above- often as unsolicited critiques. While criticism isn’t to be entirely dismissed, it can be discouraging to be expected to always be 100% accurate in cosplay. People often think the best way to cosplay is to have the details *sooo exact* to a design that you could be considered the “real life version” of that character. I used to think that way too, and held myself to standards so high that I avoided doing characters I loved, because I feared I couldn't pull them off. But I've since changed my way of thinking, and now I’m here to tell you why it’s okay to not have to be accurate in cosplay!

Photo by CosIT Photography, Cosplayer on right is Anya Braddock Cosplay

Being “accurate in cosplay” means various things to different people. Some use it to describe when all of the parts of the outfit are the right color, size, etc. and that’s a fine way to think about it! However, a more damaging expectation is when people judge the physical traits of a cosplayer like height, weight, skin tone, or facial features. It is wholly unfair to compare the body of a real person to an animated character with exaggerated features. Additionally, expecting physical accuracy also has a negative impact for people that do not have as many characters that resemble them.

@magicalerror404 Being female bodied, plus size, and black makes being "accurate" harder.

@minervamori I feel like the only folks who demand accuracy tend to be the ones who can easily do 'accurate' without trouble.

While there's nothing wrong with being passionate about accuracy in your clothing details, paint jobs, wig styling, etc., it can be detrimental to focus on physical attributes. It may lead to instances of negative self-image, or even lead people to take harmful actions. Some even take it too far and use controversial and upsetting ways of modifying their body for the sake of “accuracy” such as painting their skin or taping their eyes to look like another race.

@Laydiexskull I don't think accuracy when it comes to personal physical appearance is important. You can't strive to morph your entire appearance to match any and all characters.

However, even if we forgo the concept of being physically accurate to a character, it’s still okay to be inaccurate when talking about makeup, wig, costume, or props. Many actually choose to take artistic liberties to change a cosplay for several reasons. Maybe the character has less than comfortable shoes, so they wore a lower heel. Perhaps someone isn’t okay with showing their midriff, so they chose to lengthen a top. It could be that a certain wig is out of someone’s budget or skill level so they chose a simpler style instead. These are all incredibly valid reasons why a cosplayer may opt for inaccuracy.

@starsoftheseas As I got older, I've experienced limitations to achieve accuracy. This totally changed my mindset when it

comes to personal accuracy

In fact, artistic changes can make your costume entirely unique by infusing your own personality and vision into it. Wonder Woman with a fro, for instance, or Sailor Jupiter with purple bows instead of pink. By making a cosplay look your own , you have infused story into the piece. It represents both you and your character together- something that no other cosplay of the same character can do. It's a very thoughtful approach to cosplay that is just as compelling as being fully accurate. Some cons have begun celebrating these original concepts with “original design” contests or categories in their masquerades for cosplayers to share their one-of-a-kind work.

@kheici I think accuracy in terms of the actual design isn’t as important as being creative and innovative. Putting your own spin on it is what makes it unique and make you stand out.

Lastly, while cosplay accuracy can be a fun and satisfying challenge for some, for others, it’s simply not their cup of tea. It could even be that they’d rather be accurate on one costume but add more personal flair to another. It’s vital that newcomers to cosplay shouldn’t feel immense or unhealthy pressure to be a literal translation of their character, but to instead focus on having fun, learning as they go, and doing their best. There’s always time later on to figure out their “cosplay style”, and if they like the accuracy aspect, then they can go all for it! But until then, there shouldn't be any pressure to be screen-accurate, or the perfect doppelganger.

@jessblaiscos I think accuracy is cool for some things but lately I've found it just adds unnecessary stress and can heavily complicate costume making for those who are not as skilled

In short, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different way of cosplaying, and whether it be accurate or not, both are legitimate forms of expression in this very diverse hobby! You don’t have to prescribe to someone else’s standards- you aren’t cosplaying for them, you’re cosplaying for your own enjoyment. So no matter what your style is, your cosplay is valid. Just cosplay your way, and have fun with it!

@lunamahiru I think whatever the cosplayer chooses is valid! If they get every detail that's awesome! If they modify for their comfort/preference that's great too!

@beetletrix Cosplay is wearable fanart. Its about creating your personal vision for the character

Photo by Koji

Author's Note: the Twitter features are paraphrased quotes, not direct quotes.

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