Yesterday Jezebel posted a picture of a young woman cosplaying as Elsa, and the accompanying text encouraged us to mock her for the low quality of her costume and her unpleasant expression. The article did not mention her weight, but it seemed obvious to me that it played a large role in why she was seen as unfit to portray Elsa.

I commented to express my surprise that Jezebel of all places would post such a nasty, mean-spirited photo. To his credit, author Mark Shrayber engaged with me very politely, but he failed to see any problem with the post. A lot of responses, including Mark's, insisted that her general appearance had nothing to do with their scorn. They said they were laughing at her expression, because she was so "obviously" pissed off.

Later, Mark posted an update with a picture of the cosplayer giving a big smile next to the very same children, though the picture unfortunately came out blurry. It's clear that the first picture was taken before she was ready, and the parents just felt like throwing it on the internet to mock her.

Why I'm afraid to cosplay

This is why I am still afraid to cosplay. I am more or less conventionally attractive, but far from flawless. It's quite easy to get an unflattering picture of me, especially when I don't realize that my picture is being taken. I definitely have a "resting bitch face," even when I'm pretty content. When I'm tired or frustrated, which is hard to completely avoid at the sort of event that calls for cosplay, it's probably much worse. I can easily imagine some smug asshole snapping my picture and posting it to Reddit for everyone to laugh at the frumpy, bitchy princess.

When you cosplay, you are putting yourself out there, intentionally attracting attention to yourself. You hope it will be the positive kind of attention, where people politely approach you, pose with you, ask to take your picture, and only post flattering ones online. But you never know what will happen. You could have the time of your life all day at an awesome Con, only to come home to find that someone managed to snap a picture at that moment you stubbed your toe, and the whole internet is laughing at you.

And I'm not even touching on the issues of sexual harassment of cosplayers.