Cosplayers are a huge part of most conventions and the anime/pop culture communities. They are just like you and me in every way, come from all walks of life, and are of all ages and builds. You should not drastically change they way you interact with them because of what they're cosplaying; remember, we're all people here.
As we want to make the Manifest experience both enjoyable and safe for everyone, we've assembled a list of etiquette guidelines for interacting with cosplayers at Manifest.
Always Ask First
Cosplayers are really friendly people; if you'd like a photo of or with them, want to have a chat, maybe ask for a hug or just want to give them a big high five for being awesome, all you need to do is ask. If they refuse for any reason, please respect that! They have reasons for not wanting photos or any kind of physical contact. Remember, if someone doesn’t say YES, it means NO.
Cosplay Is Not Consent
Most cosplayers will be fine with having their photo taken, however, always make sure what you’re doing is okay with the cosplayer BEFORE you do it. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a scantily-clad cosplayer, keep in mind that showing some skin isn't the same as allowing people to touch it, or take invasive photos of select areas of their body. Ask yourself “would I be comfortable taking this kind of photo of my grandmother?” If the answer is no, you should probably double-check with the cosplayer that they’re comfortable with what you’re doing.
Sometimes we like to get photos of us with cosplayers. This is evidence that you met some seriously cool people at Manifest, and all your friends will be totally jealous of you. Sometimes however it’s not appropriate to put your arm around the waist, shoulders, or other parts of a cosplayer. Make sure to always ask the cosplayer if this is okay. A simple “May I put my arm around your waist?” is all you need to make sure you aren’t making someone uncomfortable.
It is never okay to try and ‘sneak’ physical contact with any private areas of a cosplayer’s body. Private areas include - but are not limited to - a cosplayer's face, breasts, thighs, buttocks and the groin area. This is sexual assault and will be dealt with accordingly. If something of this nature does happen to you, or you witness it happening to someone else, please report it to a staff member or security guard as soon as it occurs. If you don’t see one of these people, grab a volunteer and ask them to fetch one for you. Reporting an incident is very important, as it allows us to talk directly to the person who committed the offence. If this is not possible, or if you are injured, shaken or otherwise require a quiet place, you can also report assault at the First Aid station located in Royal Block.
Photos and Photoshoots
We all want to get some great shots of the beautiful and talented cosplayers throughout the weekend. There is a zone marked out on the Manifest map where cosplayers are able to display and pose with props that would otherwise need to be cloaked. Make sure that you are not blocking any walkways or emergency exits, and remember to always ask a cosplayer for their permission before you go snap-happy.
If a cosplayer is eating, drinking, on the phone, about to head into the toilet or otherwise seem to be having a break of some kind, they probably won't want you to take their photograph as they are 'out of character'. It’s probably best to wait to ask for a photo until they have finished what they are doing. You'll make the cosplayer feel respected, and are much more likely to get a great photo.
It should also go without saying, but do not follow and/or 'stalk' cosplayers around the Showgrounds until they ‘seem ready’ for a photo. Even if your intentions are totally innocent, this can easily be interpreted as an invasion of privacy and personal space, and can cause attendees to become alarmed.
If someone else is taking photos of someone posing, please do not jump in or try to hijack the shoot in any way. It's very rude and can be upsetting for those involved. (Getting that perfect shot can be time consuming and requires focus and timing!)
If you want to get photos of your cosplay but don't have a photographer, we have a professional photo booth running this year for all attendees. It will be located at the back of the Traders Hall in Building One, next to the Guest Signing tables.
Respect Their Costume and Personal Space
Nothing makes a cosplayer smile more than someone complimenting their hard work. That doesn't mean that you should touch their costume or any accompanied props/weapons without asking first; the costume and/or prop could be very fragile, and you don't want to damage what they've worked so hard on - especially before the cosplay competition!
If you see an amazing cosplayer you wish to speak with or take a photo of, but they seem to be busy/preoccupied - be it on the phone, eating or speaking with someone else - remember to be patient and wait for your chance. A simple 'Excuse me, can I please take your photo?' goes a long way and is always very appreciated. If they refuse for any reason, please respect that! They have reasons for not wanting photos or any kind of physical contact. Remember, if someone doesn’t say YES, it means NO.
No Surprise Hugs or 'Glomps'
This is one of the worst things you can do to a convention attendee. Surprising a cosplayer with a hug or 'glomp' is a big no-no. This is not only a violation of their personal space, but you could very easily break or damage their costume without knowing. And there's nothing worse then having the living daylights scared out of you.
Physical contact of an unwanted nature can be interpreted as assault or sexual harassment, with all the legal penalties that apply. Please be respectful of cosplayer’s personal space. Always ask before touching them, even if you think you’re not touching a ‘personal area’.
Be Kind and Considerate
As we know, cosplayers are all different in terms of age, build and skill level. We all start somewhere, so please do not criticize someone else's costume. This is a form of bullying and will not be tolerated. We all cosplay for many reasons, but mostly because we love it; it's an art form we want to share with everyone. What you think may be helpful might be interpreted as meanness, so it’s best to not offer advice unless you’re asked for it.
Here at Manifest we want nothing more than to host a great event that's super fun, safe and harassment free. We have a zero tolerance for any form of harassment during our event, and hope that everyone can enjoy themselves in a safe and mature manner. If at any time during the event you feel uncomfortable or wish to report a form of harassment, please don't hesitate to speak with security or one of our staff members. If you can’t find them, ask a volunteer. We will do everything in our power to help you feel safe and comfortable, and will always take you seriously.
Remember to Report
If at any point during Manifest someone makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or you see someone else invading other people’s space, breaking our code of conduct or deliberately making others uncomfortable, please let a staff member know. It’s okay to tell someone, and all complaints will be treated seriously and confidentially. We at Manifest want our attendees to enjoy the event in a safe and fun environment, and we will do everything in our power to make that happen.
It’s best to report physical or sexual assault to a staff member or security guard right away, with as much detail as you can. This will allow us to take action and possibly prevent others from experiencing the same thing. If this is not possible, or if you are injured, shaken or otherwise require a quiet place, you can also report assault at the First Aid station located in Royal Block.
Staff members will always try to get both sides of the story before taking any action. That said, possible consequences of harassment include:
- an official warning
- expulsion from the venue
- a ban from future MAFI events for a stated period of time
- legal charges applied by the assaulted party and/or police
(FUN FACT: This article was written by a cosplayer for cosplayers, drawing inspiration from experience gained during many years of con-going, friendly discussions within the cosplay and convention community, and Anime Expo's 'Cosplay Etiquette' videos.)