Dear Pink Hair Girl,
I happen to be an avid cosplayer. I go to a handful of anime conventions a year, and try to have a couple new costumes each year to show off. My boyfriend, while I’ve introduced him to anime, and he likes it enough to come out to all the cons with me, isn’t into cosplaying. It’s such a big part of how I hang out with my friends though, that I’d really like him to be a part of it in some way too. I’m happy that he’s there with me to take pictures, but I’d be happier if he were in the pictures with me! Usually when I run a standard girlfriend bribe by him, he warms up to the idea of cosplaying a couples thing, but when push comes to shove he’s not into it when I suggest taking his measurements to make the costume. I don’t get the impression that he’s completely shut off to the idea, but I just can’t seem to get him to commit to trying it. Should I push it till he gives it a shot, or drop it all together? I’d really love to see this become a thing we do together.
Before attempting to push anyone to try anything they’re reluctant about, it’s important to look at the spirit of the hobby, and not the motives of the person suggesting it. In this case,
Cosplay. Why do we cosplay? To revel in our fandom and to have a ton of fun doing it. The ‘fun’ part is different for everyone, whether it’s paying homage to our favorite anime, getting recognized for craftsmanship, seeing who picks up on your obscure character choice, photowhoring (my fav), or just for the lulz (see figure A). In this case, your guy lacks motivation because he doesn’t see the fun part in the actual cosplay itself. To him, none of these aspects are ringing any bells in the ‘fun’ department. Bribing him works for a few minutes, as he sees the fun in the thing you’re bribing him with, but of course he falls off the wagon when he thinks about actually putting on that costume. So here’s the thing, he’s seen you and your friends cosplay, he’s soaked up some of the experience vicariously. And he’s still not gung-ho to try it himself. Now you wanna know how to move it from a maybe to a ‘yes’… or, let’s face it, it could turn into a ‘no’.
First, I suggest finding out what’s got him held up. Have you asked him why he’s not really into it, flat out? It’s possible that he doesn’t like the characters you’re suggesting for him, or likes the characters and can’t stand thinking of wearing their costumes. Maybe he’s afraid you’ll pressure him into being in the masquerade. Or any number of things might be running through his head about your expectations, since it is a big part of your life. Thought, it’s always possible, his reason is that he’s just not into putting on costumes. Believe it or not, these people exist!
After you get some of that in the clear, you’ll have a better idea of which of these options to go with:
- Scenario One: He’s just not that into getting dressed up. ABORT MISSION. STOP PUSHING IT. Sorry honey, you’ve lost him. Even if he’s 50/50 about dressing up, dragging him into it half-willingly will probably breed as much resentment as it does fun. You ever had a costume you felt self-conscious in? Or one where you were terrified a prop might fall apart at any minute? That kind of anxiety takes away from the experience, and any cosplay he does is going to feel like that to him, no matter how great or well put-together he looks.
- Scenario Two: He’s afraid your expectations are really high. Do you talk about potentially entering him into judging? Is he gonna have to wear a wig? Are you gonna make him carry around that giant gord prop ALL day? Is he going have to get on a stage? Does he have to be in a billion photos all over the internet where coworkers might one day find it and use it to torture him for the rest of his career?
Will you expect him to do this for every con from now on? Does this mean that you think one day it might be ok to dress him up as a cat-girl? Well, he doesn’t know! Maybe. Talk about what part of the experience it is that’s important for you to share with him. Is it enough just to be seen as a couple cosplaying together for a few hours? Or will you only be satisfied if he traipses around the whole con in hall cosplays, doing tons of photo shoots with your friend?. Ease his concerns by coming up with just a few things you’ll expect him to do with you, and not go balls-to-the-wall with it like you do.
- Scenario Three – He doesn’t wanna cosplay the thing you’re suggesting. (Notice I said thing, not person. It’s such an important distinction in anime!) There’s a sweet balance between fandom and being comfortable with what you’re wearing. Maybe he loves the character you’re suggesting and not the costume, maybe he’s only lukewarm about the character and isn’t excited about being seen as a fan-boy for him. See if there’s something HE wants to cosplay, and offer to help him with that.
- Scenario Four: Costume-making scares him. In one of a couple possible ways. Maybe he’s scared you expect him to help make his own costume, in which case, he’s afraid he’ll botch it and look stupid, or make you upset. Alleviate this by talking to him about who’s responsible for what. OR, maybe he feels like all your costume-making is competing with the time you two spend together, and he doesn’t want to plunge you into making an EXTRA costume, since one takes you so much time already.
While forcing a significant other into something they’re not interested in is usually a bad idea, the way I see it, he’s not vanishing in a puff of smoke when you bring it up and this IS a big part of your life right now. It’s not unreasonable to ask him to try it once and see how it goes. If you can emphasize that this is important to you, and that he doesn’t have to make any commitments to future cosplaying if he doesn’t like it, it might ease him up for it a little.
Pink Hair Girl
P.S. Don’t make him crossplay. For the love of all that is good. Please don’t. Let him come to that revelation on his own.