Basically, my friend Dante--NeoTwilightPhantom--started a forum page over on gaiaonline about this and, after asking him in a PM if I could repost it here--he agreed--...well, here it is.
Cosplay is big--has been for a while it seems.
It's come down to it that I go into my favorite coffee shop here in New York and always run into atleast one group of cosplayers planning a group shoot or discussing solo work. As an artist, I'm friends with a few of these people and they're great people.
However, I have a story I wish to share...
I was at the coffee shop last Monday; as normal, there was group, at a table and booth behind me, discussing a Marvel X-Men group cosplay they were going to do for a convention. One of the group said "I'd make a great Shatterstar", but the others all said "No. You'd be a better fit as Professor X."
Out of curiosity, I turned around when the first one complained about the group's opinion and saw why they were telling him who to cosplay as...it was because he was in a wheelchair.
Personally, I thought he would have made a great Shatterstar--decent build, right hair color and style--but, it seemed his 'friends' won out and made him agree.
Witnessing this made me wonder...is it right to force someone to portray a character in cosplay simply because they don't "fit the mold" of other characters?
Like...telling someone who is in a wheelchair that they can only portray characters who're in a wheelchair?
Or telling someone with darker skin that they can't cosplay as someone with a lighter skin tone than them?
Or telling someone who's overweight that they can't portray a slimmer or athletically-built character?
Personally, I don't think it's fair--it seems plain wrong. Thoughts?"
When he first posted this, I agreed that people should be allowed to cosplay who they want because, hey...no big deal, right? The responses posts on the forum were quite positive--people sharing their own stories and support...
A heartwarming story about an older woman in a mobility chair cosplaying as Totoro...female cosplayers wanting to crossplay-cosplay as male characters who they had more of an identity with...
But then someone responded to him in a PM talking about how they didn't want to see some "five hundred pound broad trying to be Sailormoon" or "some overweight weirdo pretending he's a pony".
(For the record, both me and Dante think that no one should have the right to tell someone what to like and what not to like; he's actually good friends with a couple of bronies and took a serious offense on their behalf to the messenger's comments.)
For me, I remembered a time I was at my first con when I saw some guys giving a Hiei cosplayer a hard time...because he was a tall African-American man; his response? He told them off...and got back-up from a Caucasian guy dressed up a Chang Wufei--for the record, it was an awesome team-up.
My second con, a Hispanic girl was getting harassed by a group of girls because she was cosplaying as Lady Kayura..while apparently being overweight by those girls' standards. Her response was to push one of the girls into the pool at the hotel and call her out on dressing as a Sailor Scout when she was more of a villain.
Ofcourse, not all things end so well--that same con, I saw a younger girl run through the hotel lobby to the elevators, in tears because another cosplayer told her she had no business trying to cosplay as Gene Starwind because she was female, short, and Asian. A former friend of mine who still goes to cons said that she hadn't seen that cosplayer back ever since.
So...I suppose I want to ask everyone here on dA, especially any cosplayers out there, what's your opinion on this subject?