I’ve always said that the only thing that matters in cosplay is that you’re having fun. The comparisons you make against the original source material and other cosplayers can suck the enjoyment right out of it, and that’s the point where you need to look hard at why you’re doing it.
Poison Ivy has been on my cosplay roster for quite a while. Ivy and I have been together for some time now. I started cosplaying Ivy after a break-up, at a time when I wasn’t feeling all that great about myself. Ivy gave me back to myself, boosted my confidence and took me to a place with my cosplay that I hadn’t expected. Poison Ivy will always be incredibly special to me.
But there’s that fun rule. Lately, I’ve not been having as much fun with it as I used to. I’ve had some…not so great…experiences with cosplay in the last few months. For the first time, I’ve experienced rivalry, bad attitudes from other cosplayers and groping at conventions. I’ve started to hit some confidence wobbles, and to put it simply, I just don’t feel good in Ivy at the moment.
My cosplay has moved past it, somehow. With new costumes, and the incredible people I’ve met, Ivy doesn’t feel up to scratch, or like she’s doing me any favours. I don’t enjoy her like I used. I worry about how I look, what people think.
It doesn’t help that Ivy has been a part of so many events and shoots that haven’t gone as I hoped. I’ve seen some frankly appalling attitudes from other cosplayers, but because they’re ‘successful’, they get away with it. I don’t want to be a part of something where acting like a brat is rewarded with recognition because you also happen to be beautiful, or well off enough to buy expensive costumes. What happened to the fun?
I feel like cosplay has changed. It’s not about being the weird kids all together anymore. It’s about being ‘cosplay famous’. I keep seeing posts from people I love dearly, worrying that they’re not good enough, beautiful enough, wearing skimpy enough costumes…and frankly, it sucks. If it makes us feel like lesser, why are we doing it?
I have, of course, had a wonderful time too this year. I’ve been to so many conventions and made some awesome new friends, and started to get some of that coveted recognition myself. But I think I’ve also burnt out. The last six months have been quite a rollercoaster, personally, as well as with cosplay and the constant extra strain hasn’t helped. And a lot of that has centred around Ivy.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to do, to recapture the fun. Firstly, I need a rest. After MCM London in October, and MCM Birmingham in November, I’m going to take a break from cosplay entirely, for a couple of months. There’s a lull in the con season anyway, so it seems a good time to recharge the batteries.
I’ve also decided to retire Poison Ivy. On Sunday, I took part in a shoot for a charity calendar for Baby Lifeline, with Ivy. I hadn’t intended it to be her last outing, but I didn’t feel right all day. It wasn’t fun. And if it’s not fun, why am I doing it?
Ivy will not be gone forever, but I will not be wearing this particular costume again. Instead, after my break, I will be working on a brand new version of Ivy, one that makes me feel as awesome as I did when I first cosplayed her. It’s going to be pretty different. I’m glad I got these last shots to say goodbye before my Ivy is replaced with something bigger and better. I have a few more from this shoot that I’ll be sharing on Facebook, but after that, that’s it.