One of my favorite parts of attending a con is the cosplay. Seeing people dressed like Superman or Batman or Princess Leia is a big part of the experience. You don’t have to wait in lines or hope they’ll stop long enough for you to snap a picture because they want to have their picture taken and are happy to strike a character appropriate pose. Some spend months creating the perfect look, scouring stores for the right fabric for their shirt or the perfect buckle for their belt. These cosplayers stand out and draw lots of attention, but even the guy who just throws on a Superman cape is a part of the fun. It’s all about celebrating the things we love, no matter how we look. Or is it?
I just read an article over on Men’s Fitness called “NY Comic Con: Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Superheroes!”. (Note: I removed the link because Mens Fitness has pulled their post!) It started with a brief write-up about how cons are a “bully-free zone” but went on to showcase photos of cosplayers complete with snarky captions that turned the author into the con’s biggest bully. I understand that the site is all about getting those six-pack abs, but going out of the way to make fun of people who don’t have them, that I don’t understand at all.
A con should be a bully-free zone. It is the one place where anyone can be a superhero. You don’t have to have six-pack abs nor do you have to be tall, dark and handsome. And honestly, no one really cares if you’ve got the physique to perfectly replicate Thor or Slave Leia. Well, the bully at Mens Fitness cares, but his words and his attitudes have only the power we allow them.
If you’re a geek or a nerd or whatever you want to call it, then you’ve likely been dealing with guys like this your whole life. He was the one who looked down on you for no other reason than that you were being you. Your hair was wrong. Your jeans were wrong. You were too smart. You liked the wrong movie. You hung out with the wrong crowd. The reason doesn’t matter because no matter what you do “this guy” is always out there ready to rain on your parade and ruin the fun. But we’re not kids in high school anymore. We’re adults and these cons belong to us.