1UP’s “20 Worst Cosplayers” feature practices fat-shaming

What appears to be a white male is dressed in a Batman costume, carrying plastic shopping bags. He is larger than the real Batman, and his shirt is short enough that his covered belly is slightly exposed.

(Trigger Warning: Fatphobia & fatshaming)

A gallery feature just went up on 1UP titled the “Worst Cosplay Ever Photo Gallery”.  For the record, their definition of ‘worst’ basically means ‘fat’.  Out of the 20 entries in the gallery, 8 were people who were fat.  It apparently doesn’t really matter how well made the costumes were, all that matters is that the cosplayer is the same weight as the actual pop culture character they’re dressing as.  Never mind the fact that most video game and comic icons have body types that are nearly impossible for humans to attain.

For Christmas, I’ve decided that I want a gaming news site that covers all aspects of video game news and culture without being sexist, patronizing, racist, misogynistic, hateful, homophobic, or marginalizing in any fashion.  Could that even be possible?  Where is my Jezebel for gamers?

Note: I use the word fat liberally here, because there is nothing inherently wrong with the word fat.  It is a value-neutral descriptor.

(Credit goes to Game Journalists are Incompetent Fuckwits Tumblr)

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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20 Responses to 1UP’s “20 Worst Cosplayers” feature practices fat-shaming

  1. Thefremen says:

    What the hell is wrong with these people? (criticizing cosplayers like this) It looked more to me that most of those cosplays were really well done, especially the group ones. (FFX-2 and the DC comics people)

    Cosplay at any size.

  2. Maverynthia says:

    The only bad cosplayers I see are the ones who put next to no effort into their costume. All the Cloud Strifes running around with blue t-shirts and a pair of jeans.

    Where is my Jezebel for gamers?

    It’s called Kotaku. It’s owned by Gawker as well. SO the main force behind Jezebel is… Kotaku. :| Thus I don’t really support the whole Gawker media.

  3. Alex says:

    This sort of thing makes me so angry. Unless you are actually in a competition, cosplay isn’t a competition. It’s just about having fun and expressing your fandom. And that is something that should be open to EVERYONE without ridicule.

    Cosplay at any size.

    INDEED. You don’t have to look like or have the same body type as a character in order to cosplay them. In fact, in almost every case, that is actually IMPOSSIBLE, especially when it comes to female characters.

  4. Rob says:

    Rock Paper Shotgun, a British site is pretty good. They tend to be pretty good about all that kind of stuff.

  5. Cuppycake says:

    @Maverynthia

    Unfortunately, I am aware. =( I didn’t mean that I’d like for another Gawker property to open up, I meant I’d love another site that tackles video game news/issues the way Jezebel does for pop culture at the large scale that Jezebel does. Maybe if I find some miraculous funding somewhere someday… ;)

    @Rob

    Yes, I love RPS! Unfortunately, it’s PC-only, which means I don’t get my console/handheld needs fulfilled. But I agree, it’s a quality site for sure.

  6. Jonathan says:

    “Note: I use the word fat liberally here, because there is nothing inherently wrong with the word fat. It is a value-neutral descriptor.”

    Brilliant. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince people that they don’t have to insist that I’m not fat when I use the word to describe myself. It’s not like I’m anywhere near the “not actually overweight, but the media has convinced me otherwise” category either.

    It’s taken me long enough to truly believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with my size without having well-meaning friends contradict that belief.

  7. This reminds me of when I was surfing for porn and came across the two categories “pervert” and “funny” on a site. The pervert category had almost exclusively clips of really old men having regular sex with young women, and the funny category had clips with guys with small penises. Haha, really funny. ;P

  8. 12Sided says:

    ugh this is one of the reasons I stopped cosplaying and focussed on drawing as a way to express my fandom. I felt so intimidated by cosplayers that I thought were gorgeous and were trim that I thought made them so much more able to represent the character. I knew that people had these responses to larger cosplayers and the idea that I could put so much time an effort into a costume only to have my image ridiculed on someone’s website just crushed a lot of the joy out of it (not that I ever saw it happen but I tend to anticipate and be paranoid.)

  9. Nick Bell says:

    Though they are not perfect, I highly recommend MTV Multiplayer and Giantbomb as relatively safe places. At least safer than the Kotoku, 1UP, Joystiq or Destructoid. Giantbomb even attempts to moderate a code of behavior on its community, more than the above do. And while its stated point of view is to a specific audience, GayGamer.net is all around fantastic, regardless of your orientation.

  10. JenJenRobot says:

    Joystick Division had a “worst cosplayers” list a few months ago and pretty much engaged in the whole fat = worst thing too.

    http://www.joystickdivision.com/2010/06/the_top_ten_worst_cosplays_in.php

    Funny thing – when I last visited that link months ago there were quite a few comments that called out the blog for this behaviour. I remember leaving a comment myself. They’ve all disappeared!

  11. BStu says:

    This is disappointing. I feel like most gaming/nerd sites make a conscious effort to push back on the insufferable cosplay shaming that goes on whenever they share cosplay pics from events. Actively participating in the shame is just disgusting.

  12. Ladybliu says:

    The Jabba the Hut costume is freaking awesome! I love how they have a trio of great costumes that go together.

    I noticed a couple of things on the other ones (like the overweight woman in the pink leotard that was popping out of the crotch) that were embarrassing for them, but not really about the costume itself. Sometimes I wonder about people’s awareness. This article isn’t really writing about the costumes, except in a few cases.

  13. 8mph Ansible says:

    Gotta love the constant shaming articles almost exclusively reserved for us cosplayers who aren’t who lack/refuse a typical model’s body type. *GAG*

    -Ani8

  14. Adrian says:

    I am *so* sick of the fat-shaming surrounding cosplay. Seriously, people. I’m glad I don’t dress as female characters, ’cause I’d probably have quit entirely by now.

  15. Lake Desire says:

    What counts as “fat” is pretty subjective (the media sure makes me feel fat at six 6) but some of these cosplayers aren’t even fat. Like the first woman dressed as Yuna… just ’cause she isn’t malnorished she gets shamed for showing a little but cleavage just like Yuna does? And is 1Up making fun of the second Yuna because she’s black? Because her costume looks really good… I can’t think of why they think she deserves mocking.

    I skimmed the comments and most people seem to be calling out 1Up on fatphobia and unnecessary mocking of people having fun. Good!

    What the heck is the guy dressed up as in #13? What’s that over his crotch?

  16. Lake Desire says:

    Has Gawker always owned Kotaku? The only other Gawker blog I read/comment on besides Jezebel is io9 and they have a moderate policy against sexism. I assumed other Gawker sites did too but then I realized they own Kotaku.

  17. Brinstar says:

    I’m unsure if Kotaku has always been owned by Gawker. I started reading Kotaku in 2004 (I stopped in 2006 or 2007, as the commenting climate (and sometimes the content) became increasingly sexist and hostile to women), before it was even open to commenting by readers, and I honestly can’t remember whether Gawker owned it at the time.

  18. Alethea says:

    Meh, Jezebel has let me down too many times and I no longer visit the site.

    I haven’t found a really good “safe” gaming site. I could easily list all the ones that I’ve found objectionable, but I feel funny about slamming them, so I won’t.

    Instead, I’ll just do a shameless plug. I help run a small RPG-centric site – http://www.randomnpc.com – with some friends and I try to keep things “safe” (though I know a few things have slipped through). We’re a mostly progressive-minded group. I wish we could keep up with news and media better, but two of our media people are out of commission due to life circumstances, and I haven’t been able to do as much now that I have a baby. We do quite a few game reviews though.

    More on topic: I never cared about fat-shaming in cosplay until I was randomly reading a forum thread about bad cosplayers and saw a post where someone was making fun of a girl’s appearance. The girl was one of my friends. I knew she’d be crushed if she knew because she struggles with her self-esteem but loves cosplaying and makes good costumes. The whole thing became personal. My “do unto others”/”what if that was me” thing kicked in and I’ve been keenly aware of it ever since. It’s so sad to me now.

  19. Audrey Brown says:

    Oh holy bacon….your website is rocking my world. All this time I’ve felt like the loneliest feminist in geek culture, and here you have been all along! So excited to dig in!

    You are SPOT ON in this entry.

  20. StarOne says:

    As someone planning on cosplaying a fat Lady Gaga next year … well, I figured there’d be the inevitable fatphobic attitudes. I’m just going to say screw ‘em all, I hope it annoys them so much that I dare to be a fat woman in knickers and fishnets in public.

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