Thursday, November 14, 2013

I’m Not Perfect (and That’s Okay)

By Tali’Belle Cosplay

I preach body positivity, but I’m not thin enough to ever hope for Jaina Proudmoore’s silhouette. I preach cosplaying for fun, but my silhouette in my envirosuit is the only silhouette I smile at. I preach being nice to others and not criticizing, insulting, or harassing…but I’m my own worst bully. Nothing that small handful of petty girls harassing me for cosplaying a pairing they don’t like could say could hurt me as badly as what I think of myself.

Tali'Belle herself, from DeviantArt
Cosplay makes me happy, I feel good about myself when people compliment my pics or say kind things to me in public at conventions. My spirit soars and I smile bright and wide, I laugh, I joke, I have a wonderful time. But….

That’s what I was going to write. It was hopeless, it was depressing, it was not a very positive message. But here’s the thing, no one is perfect. No one at all. Yaya Han says things that are misinterpreted and needs to redo small mistakes when she makes things too, Jennifer Lawrence gets called fat, my friends from Tumblr to Deviantart to Facebook show that almost every cosplayer has some painful insecurity that hurts them.

 Even the characters I idolize and dress as have imperfections. Tali is insecure in her leadership abilities, can be opinionated, and gets flustered and nervous at times, but she still wields her shot gun and tech powers expertly, she’s still regarded as one of the sweetest, most genuinely good, loyal, and well-loved characters you can recruit, and is a favorite romance option. Jaina Proudmoore was too trusting, was never on time for anything, and was wrought with regret over many, many things and now she’s let the betrayals she suffered make her bitter and angry, but Jaina is also one of the strongest, most capable mages of all time, not just of her gender but her entire class and has led both cities and armies. Sweetie Belle is naïve, a little less than the brightest bulb in the box, and can be very annoying but her friends and family love her and she’s a true and loyal friend.
Tali'Belle as Jaina Proudmoore, from DeviantArt

Imperfections make us real, imperfections make us alive, imperfections make us interesting. Would Tali be considered half as cute and sweet if she didn’t stumble over her words with Shepard? Would she be regarded as a well-rounded character if she wasn’t wrong sometimes and didn’t grow from learning she was? Would, say, Lara Croft, be such a great character and role model for female gamers if she hadn’t started out as a terrified girl who could barely fire a gun fighting for her life and sometimes making the wrong choices for the right reasons?

People don’t like Lara, like Tali, like Jaina because they’ve got perfect, beautiful, flawless bodies. The fact is in real life they wouldn’t, those are pixels and besides, Tali’s wide hips are some people’s favorite part of her, Jaina’s somewhat less glamorous face was highly preferred to her heavily made up newer model (not that wearing makeup is bad, it can be fun and is a major healthy self-esteem boost to get prettied up), Lara’s fan base, even those who sexualize her, for the most part are drawn to her strength. We as cosplayers, as geeks, as people forget that these characters, like us, have faults and imperfections that don’t make people like them any less.

I think ultimately, this backs up the entire message of my posts in general. Don’t be perfect, be a human being, accept and treat others as human beings, be kind, be courteous, be good. If you are kind to others in your community, you will find friends. You may not talk all the time or even know each other too well off the internet and outside the con, but you will know them and you know their insecurities, their fears, their hopes, the things they like and you will see they are just like you…You will not feel alone. We are all imperfect and that’s okay. If you live with your imperfections, you are not a bad person. If you fix them with medicine or surgery or makeup, you are not a bad person. If you want to but can’t afford it, you are not a bad person.

No one has the right to tell you how to think or feel. Don’t let what cruel people with nothing better to do than hurt others affect you. Anyone who goes out of their way to hide behind a private anonymous message or a screen name and say hateful things about you and has nothing better to do isn’t worth your time. Improve imperfections that hurt others in the healthiest way you can and do what you will with the ones that don’t affect anyone.

 Tali'Belle is a fashion and costume design student with twelve years of cosplay experience. She operates Fleet and Flotilla: Dextro Couture and Salvage on Etsy. Her main cosplay is Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy and her current preferred convention is Dragon Con. You can keep up with her on DeviantArt  or Twitter. And of course, you can find her posts here on I Feel Delicious!

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