I have had the same talk with my daughter many times. It comes up once a year, like clockwork, since middle school started. See, Bug (that's what we call her) is a dancer, and an exceptionally good one. She works hard, keeps her head down, focuses on improving, and, unsurprisingly, her teachers notice her work ethic and skill, and she gets a lot of really good parts. She has been cast as the lead more than any other dancer in the department. Middle school being what it is (and middle school girls being what they are), this also means she gets a lot of grief from other students. They whisper about her, tell other kids how mean and horrible she is, and they've even gone so far as to cut ribbons off of her pointe shoes backstage before shows in order to try to sabotage her. It hurts, and she has wiped away tears moments before stepping on stage, but she never lets them have the satisfaction of seeing that. She never misses her entrance, never performs to a lower standard, and never slips up.
She does, however, always ask me the same thing. How do we make this stop?
I always ask her the same questions. What are they doing when they are talking about you, and what are you doing? Her answer is always the same. They are standing around, gossiping, and she is stretching, or she is practicing turns, or she was in rehearsal. I don't have to say much more after that. She already knows what's coming.
If they worked half as hard as they ran their mouths and gossiped and schemed, they would probably be getting the attention and roles she has been getting, too. They're not going to stop. You can't make them stop. But they're also not going to matter. They are too busy wasting time hating you to ever be your competition.
The cosplay world is, in a lot of ways, like a middle school dance department.
People want to vilify cosplayers who are out there getting the attention and getting the guest spots, simply because it is easier to say that those people are bad and don't deserve it than it is to say that your work isn't up to par and you aren't doing enough and hustling enough to earn the attention and guest spots yourself. It may be harsh, but it's true. And until you can accept and internalize that, and make the changes you need to make to get better at your craft and at the business of cosplay, you will still be the little middle school girl spreading rumors and cutting pointe shoe ribbons, and you will never be center stage.
I often hear that this cosplayer thinks I'm mean, or that cosplayer doesn't like me, or any number of variations on the same theme. Want to know what I say every time?
Seriously. I don't care. It isn't important to me. I have seen this same scenario play out over and over again, and I know how it ends.
See, while that person is trying to cut me down, I'm cutting patterns. While they're gossiping to their friends, I'm reaching out to new business contacts. While they're running their little game, I'm running seams. And at the end of it all, I end up with a fully booked calendar, and they're still talking on the sidelines. Am I supposed to be worried? What can they do to me? All that time they've spent hating, I've been working, and I am way too far ahead now. They can't take anything from me. They can't touch me. They can't even catch me. So why am I supposed to care what they think about me?
Cosplayers, this isn't middle school. Want to get ahead? Work on your craft. Want to be recognized? Work on your craft. Want a guest spot? WORK ON YOUR CRAFT. Seriously, shut your mouth and grab your heat gun. Get good. Earn the things you think you're entitled to. Find cosplay friends who focus on the work. My best cosplay friend and I actually don't talk a lot over messages. Why? We're both too busy working. And when we do talk? You better believe we talk about whatever project we're working on, and any problems we're having with it. We troubleshoot together. We support each other in failures and cheer each other on in victories, no matter how small. Gossiping doesn't improve our friendship, and it doesn't get our cosplays made.
This middle school mentality has got to go. If you would work half as much as you run your mouth, you might actually get to the same level as the people you love to hate.
Tl:dr- Shut up and get good.
Tough love is still love, guys. It's time to grow up.
Now, excuse me. It's my lunch break at work and I have bodysuit fabric to pin and cut.