“No” Is Not An Option Because I Asked You Politely

by admin on May 30, 2012

I’m still unsure if I was in the wrong here, perhaps the Ehellions can enlighten me.

I’m a cosplayer. Cosplay is an activity in which one dresses up as a fictional character from a video game, movie, animated series or tv series. There are events in which cosplay is expected and even encouraged (such as comic conventions or other media events), I attend those often and my hometown happens to host many events every year.

As far as I know, there isn’t a particular set of etiquette rules on cosplay and cosplayers other than things that would be common sense: don’t touch people without their permission, ask before taking a picture, etc. Cosplayers in particular are expected (and expect) to have their picture taken, after all it is a very visual activity.

In the last event I attended I’m afraid I may have committed a faux pas.

It was the end of a long day and I was sitting along with some friends in the rest area. I had taken off my high heels and given my props (a pair of toy pistols) to some other friends to play with. As we conversed, a young man came over and asked for my picture. The following conversation ensued:

Me: I’m sorry but I’d rather not, I’m tired…
Him: But you’re cosplaying.
Me: Yes…so?
Him: Cosplayers always say yes to pictures.

I can’t properly express his tone in writing, but it was as if I should be honored to have my picture taken by him so I should immediately step into my heels and chase down my props.

Annoyed, I stood my ground that I did not want my picture taken at the moment. He left grumbling that I was so ungrateful and my cosplay was ugly anyway. My friends and I could only laugh at his ridiculous flounce and continued our conversation with anecdotes of people trying to take pictures at inappropriate times.

The next day as I’m tagging pictures of the same event, I find one of myself in particular with a note from I assume the guy I had jilted.

“This gurls a bitch!!1 tried to take hr pic and she and hr friends told me of!!!!!!”

I chuckled and moved on, but the seed has been planted in my mind. Are we cosplayers in the wrong for refusing to take pictures? Part of the point of cosplaying in public is to be seen so refusing to be photographed kind of defeats the purpose, but at the same time we are people, not objects. 0529-12

Interesting question.   Since you preface your story with the affirmation that asking to take a photo of a cosplayer is expected etiquette, then the young man’s question is not out of line.   However, just because someone asks for a favor does not mean the person being asked has a mandatory obligation to honor that request.   Upon being told, “I’d rather not,”  your admirer reveals his true stripes in that there was no other option in his mind other than you complying with his request so he throws a tantrum.

This kind of behavior is not limited to the scenario of cosplay but shows up in many situations.   I’ve lately seen more attitudes such as this in real life.  There seems to be this mindset that says, “As long as I ask politely, anything I ask should be given to me”.  When that request cannot be accommodated, the inquiring individual doesn’t receive that negative response well.    For them, graciousness only applies to the person expected to give them what has been asked for.    It’s using a warped version of etiquette to bully people with the threat they will behave IF you cater to their demands and wants stated oh so politely.   What this does is place an expectation on the person being asked that there is no possible answer to that question other than “yes”  because “no” will set off the drama fireworks.

Back to the OP, everything in your story was fine up until the part Young Man has a meltdown because you would not give him what he requested.   Your story hints at you and your friends possibly mocking him as he wandered away and if that is the case, I think you could have been more gracious by waiting until he was completely out of sight and earshot before you and your friends talked about him.

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny May 30, 2012 at 7:07 am

I think the young man was particularly out of line because he was asking the OP to get up and get dressed. I think getting upset because your picture is snapped is one thing (if you’re out in that kind of situation it’s assumed to be okay) but he wanted her basically to re-dress up for him.

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Queen Medic May 30, 2012 at 7:29 am

Knowing what goes on at cons, I know there’s a large amount of people who don’t follow any etiquette rules whatsoever. Many con-goers can be very obnoxious and expect the day to revolve around them. They see a particular character they like, they take pictures without permission, touch, run off with props etc. To be honest, I believe they feel like they’re at the zoo, and all the cosplayers are there for their pleasure.

This is what I expect ran through this mans mind. You’re in cosplay. He wants a picture. You don’t let him, so it messes with his perception that you’re only there to pose for the camera on demand. There was no breach in etiquette from you. Telling someone you don’t want your picture taken should be ad-heard to, weather you’re in cosplay, on the streets or wherever you are.

And take no notice of the snide remark of your cosplay or you. Spite is the weapon of the weak, as they say!

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The Elf May 30, 2012 at 7:30 am

The guy was definitely in the wrong. I attend those sorts of cons too, though I don’t cosplay, and it’s generally considered polite to ask the person if it is okay to take their picture. If they say no, they say no. You move on.

Honestly, his poor grammar should be a tipoff to his maturity level. I hate netspeak with a passion. “gurl”? Seriously, what’s the point of writing “gurl” instead of “girl”? Do you really save time by typing 1 instead of I?

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Trish May 30, 2012 at 7:40 am

I think if you were in a rest area, it was really presumptuous of the guy to ask you for a picture. I know that cosplayers aren’t paid to be there, and that they are just expected to always be “on”, much like Disney characters. However unlike Disney characters you aren’t paid to be “on” all the time (and have rest areas out of the view of spectators), and you are also there to enjoy the con.

Perhaps, as the Admin has said, you should have waited until he was out of earshot to laugh, but apart from that, you are entitled to have your time to rest too, and also to refuse pictures.

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Kry May 30, 2012 at 7:44 am

No means NO is something that this person needs to learn. Just because you are in costume does not make you public property. Being polite but firm is best and at these events there is usualy security to help if things start to get heated.
Several years ago I had a similar problem. The fan-club I was with were collecting money for charity at road intersections in our (rather elaborate) costumes. One man jumped out of his car and tried to pose for a pic as the traffic lights changed and we were trying to get off the road safely. We were then abused by him before he got back in his car and ran a red light.

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TheVapors May 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

Admin is dead on.

Given the atmosphere at cons, it’s very normal that you (or anyone cosplaying) would be asked to have their picture taken. In these situations, the question isn’t rude. It might not be as common for them to hear “no”, but one should not ask a favor with the expectation of a “yes”.

That man was fine in asking. It also seems he asked politely.

That’s where it ends for him, though.

OP, you were fine. That man needs a serious attitude adjustment.

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Huh May 30, 2012 at 8:06 am

This is a timely post, as I’m getting ready to go to a con this weekend!

I always ask cosplayers if I can take their picture, try to do it as quickly as I can, and thank them when I’m done. Never had anyone turn me down, but if they did, I’d move on. All of that just seems to be common sense, but I know common sense can be lacking with people in general.

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DDP May 30, 2012 at 8:09 am

I agree with Admin and would only add that you were in a rest area. Although I will not claim to know the culture of these events, I would assume that that means that you were taking a break. That you were out of character. I would not have asked for a picture in this case, although I do not think it would have been rude to necessarily ask. Although I would have assumed that you were likely to turn me down, as you were on “break”.

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Tippomonger May 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

Every con I’ve attended (both in and out of cosplay) has seemingly dredged up some of the most socially inept people in our society. Between bad manners and lack of hygiene (showers anyone?), I often wonder how these people function in the normal world. Granted, these statements only reflect a small pool of the con population, but those attendees certainly know how to make an impression.

From conversations I’ve had with friends who run cons and scenes I’ve witnessed, you would also be surprised by how much damage con-goers inflict upon the hosting venues. Some attendees seem to think the hotel/convention center/etc. is their personal play ground, and no area if off limits. The artists on Artist’s Alley and the convention volunteers get to deal with their fair share of boors as well, with every unique scenario you can imagine probably having been played out. I won’t even get into the effects booze has on the event.

While I’ve painted a bad picture, conventions really are a great time for fans. Between vendors, programming, special guests, and attendees, you get the chance to celebrate your passion with like-minded people from all over the country. You were definitely not in the wrong OP, and there is no con rule that says you have to pose for every person who wants a picture – you paid the badge price too and deserve a break if you want it.

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Hemi May 30, 2012 at 8:55 am

Why do people not understand that no means no? Like admin pointed out, even if it the questions is phrased nicely, if I say no, I mean no.

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Another Laura May 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

This reminds me of the tourists who are upset when the Amish won’t pose with them for pictures

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AS May 30, 2012 at 9:10 am

I am not sure about cosplaying etiquettes, but I’d think that everyone is entitled to take rest breaks. If the person would have only asked to take a picture with you, that would have been one thing. But cribbing about how honored you should feel that he wants to take a picture with you is totally out of line and extremely rude.

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Helen May 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

I’ve seen this often with photographers outside of the cosplayer setting.

You go to an event, and the event photographers want to take pictures of everyone. If you decline to be photographed, they pressure you.

I’ve had this happen at professional networking events.

I’m always amazed just how much pressure photographers will apply to unwilling subjects.

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Rap May 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

Having gone to a few of these things, I think you’re both in the right and in the wrong. The OP has every right to say no at any time to picture… but at the same time the point of costuming up is for people to see you. Depending how poorly the “rest area” was defined, the young man may not have known it was a rest area and if the costumer was in full costume except for high heels and toy pistols… I can understand why he asked for a picture.

The OP has the right to say no, but I can understand why the picture taker was angry – especially if he got laughed at for asking. On the other hand, he was rude to take it to the next level and whine at the OP and then publically whine as well.

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manybellsdown May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

I see a similar thing happen in an online game I play. Some of the more desirable things in the game can be purchased with real money. As I was a beta player, I own some of these things that I didn’t have to pay for because they were handed out back then. So I frequently get people who send me a message like this “can u buy me (real-money item) pleas please and dont be mean”. Guess what constitutes “being mean?” A simple “no.”

You’re allowed to say no. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You don’t even have to give them a reason, as Miss Jeanne says so often “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” I had a fellow at a con refuse me a photo because when I asked him, he’d cut himself badly and I’d caught him on his way to First Aid! I don’t think he’s a jerk for it, I’m more embarrassed that I asked him at such a bad time.

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JackManifesto May 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

OP- I Cosplay as well, and I don’t believe that anyone has the right to take pictures of you without your consent even if you ARE in costume. There are many events where those rules are, in fact, stated in the welcoming literature- that people dress up in costume for their own pleasure and are not there solely for the amusement of any passers by with a camera in their hand. We aren’t event staff in costume for people to take pictures with us as Trish said…we love the craft and want to show off our hard work. Sometimes that means just wanting to feel awesome as we walk around, and not constantly stopping to take pictures.

I had a situation a few years back at BIG GIANT EVENT IN BALTIMORE, where my costume/series was very popular that year and I happened to be accompanying several others who were in truly impressive costumes (one involved fiberglass, duct tape, cardboard, a bit of plaster and 10 large pieces to complete :P). We all (meaning our group and any others in the same series) had a specific meet up in a public place which was very well advertised so that anyone who wanted could take pictures of us all posing together, separately and in small groups. It went well for the most part, except for a few people who FOLLOWED US AROUND THE EVENT, constantly taking pictures of us as we tried to move from one location to the next. Now, I expected people would want more pictures and we did plan for it, but these people prevented others who had not already seen us from taking the pictures they wanted and stopped us at very inappropriate times even after we begged them to just let us keep walking.

It got so bad that we had to get event staff involved, because they would literally hop in front of us in the hallway as my friend tried to move in his very large and delicate costume with a few of us around him to prevent the crowd from crushing it. That was annoying for us for obvious reasons, but it also had the added ‘benefit’ of causing massive traffic in the already packed hallways as people who had not seen our processional being photobombed earlier would dive out of the photographer’s way. They actually didn’t stop asking us for photos even when my friend was totally out of his costume and we were headed back to the hotel- one had the audacity to ask him to put all 10 interlocking pieces back on.

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The Elf May 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

Tippomonger, I hear ya. It might only be 5% of the con that has poor hygiene or is unspeakably rude, but that 5% really sticks in your mind.

I’m a gamer, and I especially old-school pen-and-paper role-playing games. I had forgotten about the gaming stereotype (smelly, dresses poorly, socially inept, etc) because I’m not like that and neither are my gaming friends. With neighborhood game stores now a thing of the past, I have lost touch with the local gaming population. It’s not the 80s anymore! These stereotypes are a thing of the past! Then I went to a gaming convention after having not gone to one for a decade. And I remembered that the stereotype has a basis in a small percentage of real gamers. Wow, there were some doozies. I saw some men in the same clothes all four days, with sweat stains increasingly larger. I shudder to think that some non-gamers think this is the rule not the exception. But that’s the way the world works. Extreme examples always stick out and are remembered, examples that fall within the norms don’t.

BTW, I do love going to cons. That 5% is only 5%.

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Michelle P May 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

Rap, I’m confused as to why the OP was “in the wrong” in any way. The young man could see her perfectly fine without taking a picture, and I am under the impression she didn’t perceive his being rude when asking for a picture. The problem was his arguing about it and then ridiculous behavior afterwards.

This affects all walks of life. I don’t even really know what cosplaying is and I’m not involved in anything like these events, but the lesson is the same. No means no.

I photograph terribly and can’t stand my picture taken, and I still have family members that insist on taking it constantly. I’m not being rude by not giving them what they want.

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Ashley May 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

Ack, cosplay post! >.< Timely as I am working to finish three costumes before August (GENCON! WOO!). Cosplay is an interesting topic. I absolutely get where OP is coming from. While she is right that there are no real SET rules, beyond the obvious things like ask before taking a picture and such, she (and every other cosplayer) should retain the right to say no if they don't feel like rounding up all their props and things just for ONE picture.

I think every cosplayer out there has at least one horror story like this. I've got several. One involved a rather expensive leather top hat and goggles getting snatched off my head by a woman who insisted she just HAD to try it on. I directed her to the booth selling them and she got all uppity saying "but then they would want me to buy one, you'll let me do it for free…". Another time a guy GRABBED my skirt to try and get my attention, managing to completely unbustle it in the process, then got mad at me when it took longer than 30 seconds to rebustle it so he could get a picture. Plus I can't tell you how many times I have gotten dirty looks for wanting to step into a lower traffic area so I don't impede other con goers who aren't as interested in cosplay…

Overall though, it is still an enjoyable hobby and I am glad to say there are many more POLITE picture takers than rude ones.

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German Shepherd May 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

The guy was a childish brat. Won’t say yes to my polite request? Then your cosplay is ugly! Pout, pout.

The guy wasn’t laughed at for asking; he was laughed at for how immature he acted after OP stood her ground. Then he tries to paint himself the victim by lying in his comment.

The rule is to ask a cosplayer if you may take a pic. If the cosplayer says no, then you may not take a pic. That’s the rule at every con I’ve been to.

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inNM May 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

I have not done cosplay, but I grew up in a country with a spectacular Rio-like Mardi Gras Carnival celebration, and have often played since I was old enough to walk. I’m drawing from those experiences.

I love to go all the way in costume. I have friends who are make up artists use my body as a canvas, and I’m usually the girl people remember from my costume section in the band. Yes, we’re there to display costumes, but we get tired, thirsty, hungry, and in hot sun with 90 degree weather and 80% humidity. Sometimes we have downtime. I’ve had people touch me (and attempt to touch me) in an effort to get me to smile, dance, or pose for their picture. Most times I oblige. Then there are the men who think that me wearing a costume of bikini, beads, feathers, glitter and make up means I’m their private dancer, bought and paid for, and the very act of me being on the street gives them the right to grind up on me and touch inappropriately. While I won’t say what I have done in the past, I’ve learned the best way to deal with this is to not stray outside of the band by myself, and always get security involved, who can then escalate it to the police.

OP, you did nothing wrong by refusing to have your photo taken.

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Calli Arcale May 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

“No” means “no”. You are entirely in your rights whether you cosplay or not to refuse to have your picture taken. You cannot completely control whether or not your picture gets taken, but you are not obliged to drop whatever you are doing and pose for the person. So don’t feel bad for telling him no.

I know someone very well who uses the “do what I want or I won’t be polite” strategy. In her defense, she’s five, and this is a new discovery for her. She’s my daughter, and we’re teaching her that it doesn’t work, and in fact has a tendency to backfire. ;-) (Ask nicely, and we may be persuaded. Get huffy, and you torpedo any chance of getting your way. “Please” is a powerful and important word, but it is not actually magic.)

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allyoops May 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

Never been to one of these, don’t know what they are……but I very much understand the need for a break from the public eye, at least at some point during the day. But wouldn’t someone understand who is told “I’m sorry, I’m exhausted, but in 10 minutes or so, we’ll be back out and we’ll be happy to have you take my picture, just give me a minute.”

Stand your ground on your break, but everyone should remember that if they choose to do something (sing, cosplay, civil war reenactments, juggling, whatever) in public, then public adoration/criticism comes with it, along with autographs, pictures, video, etc. If you don’t want to do any of those things, you should only go to private venues.

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beging May 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

admin, good call!

Everyone has to have a break and this is a good post for us all to remember to back off once in a while at these sort of events.

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lkb May 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

I concur with Rap’s comments above: I wonder if the photographer thought the OP was a paid performer. (I.e., maybe he didn’t know how these things work.) Also, costumed performers at amusement parks are instructed to relax in an area hidden from the general public in order to keep the illusion going and so as not to traumatize little kids.

Not saying he was right, of course, but I wonder if that was his mindset.

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DGS May 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thank you for the education on what “cosplay” is – I had no idea what that activity entailed!

To the point: it is never rude to respond with a polite, “no”, when being asked a question or a small favor. It is rude, however, to pout and sulk and act out, because the person was told “no”. OP was not rude in tactfully declining, while the young man in the story, was quite rude.

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Drawberry May 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Howdy OP! I am an avid cosplayer as well and frequent an online forum where threads of this topic and nature come up very frequently. To sum up the resounding responses others get from the cosplay community you are absolutely NOT rude at all! No means no, it doesn’t matter if it is ‘expected’ of you or not. You said no, and this person pushed you to go out of your comfort zone.

At conventions I find that there is an overwhelming sense of arrogance in that we as cosplayers are viewed as the general public’s ‘doll’. That we are inanimate objects that are not worthy of courtesy. Some people take their fandom so far that they seem to completely forget that we are NOT a fictional character, we do NOT act like their prized favorite character from X or Y, and we will not entertain their wishes, wants, or even fetishes just because we are in costume. So many times I’ve seen (particularly young attractive ladies) cosplayers being hounded to pose certain ways they express being uncomfortable with, people snapping photographs of someone with a mouth full of food, or taking a photograph of a resting cosplayer after they’ve explicitly said NO.

Coming from personal experience, since the man in the OP’s story explicitly called her a ‘cosplayer’ I find it unlikely he thought she was a paid performer of some sort – even if he did think this and even if she WAS a paid performer the answer is still the same. No. Means. NO.

This strikes a pretty hard spot with me, as after attending two completely different conventions where my costumes had been well received (the first was a cosplay of Hermione Granger of ‘Harry Potter’ fame, and the second was Disney styled Alice in Wonderland-both of which I was wearing skirts ) I had reports given to me that particular photographers had been running up-skirt pictures of me on their websites. I could never find where this was and the website for one photographer was giving me a 404 message when I went to check so it appears to have been taken down. But after that you start to stand your ground with how you’re treated at conventions.

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Kovitlac May 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

That man was pretty rude. However, if that had been me, I’d have said, “sure – take one!” and just kept sitting. You’re under no obligation to get up and prance around with your props – if he wanted just a picture of your costume, all that would have been needed from you was maybe a simple smile.

That said, if he was clearly expecting more, then you were right in letting him know you were tired and needed a break. His later comment about you was hilarious (in an awful way).

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Chocobo May 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Lkb, given the nature of conventions, it’s highly unlikely the man thought she was a performer. Generally there are few performances requiring costumes at such events, and people in the costumes of their favorite characters are understood to be just other attendees. One would just have to look about to realize that perfectly average attendees visiting the booths or attending a lecture are dressed to the teeth in costume. The OP would likely have been surrounded by dozens or hundreds (depending on the size of the convention) of other people also dressed up as Batman, Mario, a Storm Trooper, or whomever.

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AMC May 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Admin is right, OP. You are neither a prop nor paid entertainment. You were an attendee trying to enjoy the con just like him. You were under no obligation to pose for picture.

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LovleAnjel May 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I don’t cosplay, but I have worked for a Large Theme Park in Orlando, and my casual style of dress could be described as Goth. So, I have run into a myriad of people like this, both on-duty, when I had to stay in character, pose for pictures, ect., and when I’m having fun, like going to the zoo (the bonus of working for Large Theme Park is I learned to keep a smile or at least a pleasantly bland expression on my face when things start getting hinky). From what I understand, cosplayers occupy a middle ground where it’s not a paid gig but they expect to get a lot of attention and be asked to pose.

If you are not a paid performer, you can take breaks whenever you want. You can refuse to answer questions or pose for photographs whenever you want. You can even do this in an area not specifically marked for rest! But, you have to maintain a pleasant demeanor. You have to be polite. You can’t roll your eyes or act annoyed or use a bad tone of voice. You are dressing in a way that attracts people to you, and the price of admission is to treat the 10,000th person who asks for a picture like the 1st. If the rude boor was still in range when the OP and friends started to laugh, that was a faux pas on their part. From his statement, “Cosplayers always say yes to pictures,” and his immediate reaction to the refusal, I’m guessing it would not have mattered, since his sense of entitlement would have caused him to be nasty no matter how nice the OP had been.

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Ashley May 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

JackManifesto, wow, how annoying that must have been for you. I’ve never been stalked across a convention but I’ve heard of it happening. I can’t imagine what possesses people to do that. Yeah, your costumes might have been elaborate, but surely there were other things in the hall to look at/take pictures of.

The worst incidents I have seen always involve the photographer asking people to do something that they physically cannot do because their costume does not allow that range of movement. What works in a video game is NOT always going to work in real life. I once saw a woman in a very elaborate wedding outfit from a video game get yelled at because she couldn’t do a very particular twirly leap thing that the character does when casting a particular spell. She might have been able to pull it off if she was in the costume the character normally wears, but she certainly wasn’t going to manage it in a wedding dress with a long train made of feathers. Or there was a woman whose character is pretty much a goat from the waist down. She had these awesome hooves built over stilts which she wore to participate in the costume contest. That was really all the longer she could walk in them. She wore a simple pair of brown boots the rest of the time, and a guy who had seen her in the costume contest got mad because she wouldn’t trek back to the room where the hooves were being stored, put them on, walk all the way back to where he was, just so he could get a picture.

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darkprincess May 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

DH, DD, and do cosplay. DD is under the age of 9 yrs old. We have found that people will do the polite thing and ask her if they can take a picture, but they always look at one of us as the parent to make sure we are giving the o.k. too. Usually people understand that both a parent and the person in the picture must give the o.k.

Twice we have answered no. Once the person asking gave me a very bad feeling, it just seemed creepy for some reason and I followed my gut. He was very upset I wouldn’t let him take a picture of my daughter.
The other time DD was tired and hungry and she said they could take a picture but only after she was able to sit down and have ice cream. The photographer giggled and found us later in the day.

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Ultra Venia May 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I think a helpful line would be, “I’m taking a break, I’m not in character right now, maybe later, okay?” I am very close to an Elvis impersonator so he’s had to consider this when he may not be ready for pics. Usually he makes sure he’s not seen half in character, though. Different because cosplay is fun and not a professional endeavor, but fans and tourists are rarely rational at the best of times, so it’s best to be gentle with them and try to get them on your side.

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acr May 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I do think in such a situation, that the person saying “no” needs to be extra gentle and try to make it feel like a personal rejection to the requester.

I’m not saying the OP didn’t do that, of course!

I, too, am I con-goer. I can honestly say that I have never had a person in costume say no when I requested to take a picture, and I have never said no. So I can see how a person might take a “no” where there has always been “yes” to be a rejection.

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Girlysprite May 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Ah yes, cosplay woes, I know them.

The rude behavior on itself is not cosplay specific, but because cosplayers get much more attention in costume, they draw a lot more people with bad behavior too. It can be even worse for a woman who has a costume that is slightly resembling ‘sexy’.

For example, I have been cosplaying for a fantasy event as a volunteer, to entertain the visitors. I was dressed as a succubus with black leather pants, black corset, wings, and a real bullwhip. A tad edgy, but it actually showed very little. At one point a man of 40 years old kept leering at me. He was drunk, and asked me if I would whip him. I said no. In the following hour he invited me to his birthday party (no), kept blowing creepy kisses, and kept gesturing to me to whip him. I kept being polite, but told him clearly that I would not accomodate his requests, was married, that this was an act and not ‘real me’, and that he was making me very uncomfortable.
In the end I asked security to help me. They explained they couldn’t do anything because the man was the personal friend of an organiser. I and two of my (also volunteering) friends left. Appareantly, they didn’t need volunteers after all, if I was treated that way.

Luckily, it was also the only time when I had a truly negative experience.

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Enna May 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

The man should’ve taken the hint. Although saying “I’m on a break” wouldn’t have gone a miss. I think what the man posted should be flagged up or reported on the website as what he said was rude and out of context. If you ask to take someone’s piciture and they say no then you should take that answer.

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Rap May 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Michelle P – I don’t think the OP deserves a smack of shame or anything like that. But… the point of cosplay at a convention is to attract attention to yourself. I have friends who go to these things with multiple costumes and its considered a compliment for someone to want to take your picture. Because you’ve done something creative that impresses them, because you’ve done a great job in capturing a character, because they want to compliment you for doing something that they want to remember. “Can I take your picture?” is a compliment, not just a demand. The OP had every right to say no – and believe me I respect the idea of just being too tired to deal with it – but at a con, thats spurning a compliment, a compliment that by wearing a costume you were seeking out. Even then I wouldn’t call the OP rude, until we get to the part where she and her friends laughed at him… because remember, all he was doing here was trying to compliment her.

The picture taker was much more rude in that having been in similar situations, I personally would have backed off at the first no (but I’ve also been to some of these events, in a costume and not, and one reason I leave the costuming for the kids is that you do have to put up with a LOT of requests for pictures if you do a good costume) and the online hissy is totally unacceptable but… he tried to offer her a compliment and got laughed at for his troubles. If you’re going to wear a costume at a con, it attracts attention, even when you want to rest.

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Doris May 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

My sister-in-law and her kids are very active in Renaissance festivals, not only as actors but also organizing the events. Even though they enjoy their roles and interacting with the crowds, there are definite times when the actors are “on” and when they are “off.” When an actor is not active in his or her role, it is extremely impolite to expect him/her to pose for a photo or jump back into the role to please a patron. Many will do so simply because they enjoy their roles and are thrilled to interact with the public. Remember that each actor interacts with hundreds of people each day of the event. It is very tiring – physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, their breaks are short and extremely infrequent. Everyone needs some personal time and some down time to recharge.

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Cat May 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Easy answer is, “Sure, as long as I don’t have to get up. Otherwise, catch me later when I’ve rested.”
People do this frequently. I read about a tourist who entered a church, saw someone deep in prayer, and began to order him to take certain poses so the tourist could take his photo.
He was wrong to demand to accede to his wishes and to be angry when you refused.

It would have been better not to speak about his behavior with your friends. No one other than comedians like to be laughed at. For one thing,his behavior spoke for itself. For another, you don’t know what is wandering around loose these days. He could have been waiting for you when you left. I once had a man follow me home from the grocery store and walk into my unlocked apartment as I was bringing in groceries. Fortunately my room mate’s fiance walked in right behind him.

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Shalamar May 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

This reminds me of a rather awkward thing that happened to my family and me in Hollywood a couple of years ago.

As you may know, a lot of folks dress up in costume and pose with tourists at the Chinese Theatre (where all the handprints in concrete are). The costumes are mostly superheroese and the like. I was delighted to see a very good Darth Vader costume, and my daughter snapped his picture. The man then took off his helmet (rather weird seeing Darth au naturel, as it were). He said, pleasantly enough, “Maybe you don’t know this, but we’re all out-of-work actors, and we expect to be paid to have our pictures taken.” We HADN’T known that – the trouble was, we had very little cash on us. I said “I’m very sorry – we didn’t know that, and we don’t have any money at the moment.” His expression turned very ugly and he spat “GO TO HELL!” at us as he jammed his helmet back on. My poor daughter (who was only 12 at the time) was almost in tears.

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Bearfoot May 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm

@LovleAnjel>> No.. no no no no a thousand times no.

I understand that if you’re working at Disney world in costume you’d have to pretend to not be creeped out, but this is not the same as being a a con. Nobody should be made to be uncomfortable and just take it.
@Shalamar Wonder if what he was doing was even legal.

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Cat Whisperer May 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

This reminds me of a situation that I’ve frequently encountered at places like aquariums and zoos, where a bunch of people are all standing in a limited viewing area and you have to depend on people moving out of the way to get your turn.

How many times has it happened that I’m in the viewing area, and some little kid announces, “EXCUSE ME!” and physically pushes his/her way past other people to get to the front?

To me, this is just plain rude. Shove me out of the way or dig an elbow in my side to physically get me out of the way, and saying “excuse me” makes it okay? I don’t think so!

More than once, I’ve turned to the child who is doing the shoving or elbowing, and told them point blank: No, I won’t excuse you! Saying ‘excuse me’ doesn’t give you the right to push me out of the way or move in front of other people who are waiting their turn politely. I won’t excuse you, and you can wait your turn like polite people do.”

Yes, I have gotten glared at by outraged parents who seem to think that it’s okay for kids to push adults out of the way and get a “pass” for it as long as they shriek out “EXCUSE ME!” while they’re doing it. I don’t care. I have arthritic knees that make it harder for me to stay on my feet than a young person, and at 55 I’m older than children and have less time left on earth to spend waiting my turn. If I’ve politely waited my turn to get to see something, by golly a child can do the same. And no amount of “excuse me” turns an act of aggression and discourtesy into something polite. It’s rude and wrong and that’s all that’s too it.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm

This situation shares something with the ones where adults observing a school performance or dance recital were unruly by taking phone calls, snapping photos with flash while obstructing the view of audience members, and “saving” seats by taping them off or “guarding” whole rows for friends and family. One commenter, Lia, said that organizers must plan for these occurrences and make some adjustments in how people are directed to behave prior to and during the event. An absence of such preparation and oversight can allow problems to escalate to inordinate levels. At cons, can the organizers not require civil conduct and issue firm guidelines for how to interact with those in character? “No touching cos players without first obtaining permission, no impeding the progress of people walking and no verbal assaults”. If you wanted to state it positively then “photos are available with consent only on a case by case basis, walkways are to remain clear for safety reasons, conduct must be courteous to ensure the enjoyment of all”. Oh! And “posting of photos with objectionable or insulting captions will make you ineligible to attend cons if a complaint is substantiated”. If it really is just the 5% who cause problems, it shouldn’t be impossible to mitigate that number bit by bit to the point that cons become an enjoyable venue unmarred by such concerns.

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Princess Buttercup May 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I’m kind of the neighbor of cosplayers. I’m a furry and been on staff of a furry convention since the first year I attended.
At furry conventions no one asks to take pictures, they just do. If you are wearing any sort of costume expect to have pictures of you taken. Same goes for outside of cons. I’m sure there are some shots of my butt in unknown places online because I wore a tail around town. (actually I think I’ve been asked for pictures more on the street then at conventions those pictures are common in both instances)
However a common convention rule is “No means No” so if he pestered you then he is in the wrong, plain and simple. No means no is a rule that many need to learn for general everyday life also.

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Lady Macbeth May 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I’m shocked at how many people here at EH do cosplay. But, in the best way. This is one of the many reasons I love this site.

It’s funny (in an ironic sense) how being asked to have your photo taken can be such an ego booster (in a good way) and how not having your picture taken when everybody around you is being photographed can really sting. I’ve had the latter happen on multiple occasions – where a singular photographer took pictures of everybody else in the room while purposefully avoiding me – and none of them involved dressing up or formal affairs. I have yet to break a mirror upon gazing into it.

The notion of putting oneself in the public eye can even extend to a job where you work with the public. I’ve worked customer service for several years now, and for some unknown reason, people feel as if your job gives them permission to make all sorts of comments about your physical appearance. While most verbal observations – such as “I love your necklace” and the like – are welcome, some are not. Because of my acne, I’ve been asked if I had the chicken pox; because of the mild dermatitis on my arms, I was asked just the other day if I’d gotten into some poison ivy. And because I gain weight in my mid-section, I still get asked if I’m pregnant.

A good rule of thumb – whether it’s taking pictures of those in costume at a convention or interacting with your local salesperson – is to never assume (cause we all know what assuming does…). Don’t assume it’s automatically ok to take photographs. Don’t ask deeply personal questions. Don’t inquire about a person’s physical features. If you feel you must say something to somebody, pick out something you like about them – their eye color, their choice of accessories, their handiwork if they made the outfit themselves, their makeup, etc – and be sincere in your remarks. The old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” still applies in this day and age.

“No” is also still “no,” and no matter how politely we impart it, those who feel entitled will continue to feel that way despite our best efforts.

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Cooler Becky May 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I’m a cosplayer too. I’ve had pretty bad experiences before. Thankfully, I rarely get photographed due to wearing obscure cosplay outfits.

I’m the type that doesn’t mind being photographed rain or shine and who stays in character all day. But I think it’s okay to draw the line at things that you personally wouldn’t do. I do that all the time.

No means no.

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Fyrefly May 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

You should have waited until he was out of earshot to begin laughing at him assuming that’s what you meant by your post, but other than that you were fine. Please don’t worry about it.

I’ve been to Otakon as well and my boyfriend and I hit upon a very popular couple’s costume last year and were stopped a lot. In many cases we would spend a free hour between programming walking up and down the convention center counting the number of photos we got, and I like to think that everyone else had as much fun as we had. When that wasn’t possible though, I found a smile and a firm tone (oh right, polite spine!) worked wonders and most people were willing to accommodate you.

Examples include people asking for my photo in a very tight skywalk that can quickly become a fire hazard if crowded. “Yes, just let me get clear of the walkway so we don’t block anyone.” People tend to follow me instead of blocking me with their camera in the air like a paparazzi if they know I’ll be stopping. And sometimes you have to use excuses if you have anywhere to be because one person stopping for photos easily turns into several minutes while 30 or more people get pictures while you’re posed. So sometimes I have found myself in the position of having to say no.

Examples:
“I’m on my way to a panel right now, I’m sorry I can’t stop.”
“If you don’t mind my sitting here in the picture go ahead, I’m tired.”
“My boyfriend (character) is in the bathroom, you can take one of just me or wait for him.”
“My ride is leaving, I have to go but I’ll be wearing this costume tomorrow.”

Cosplayers all pay to attend the con too and in no way should we be expected to always pose for a photo no matter what. But a smile and a reason why not should always be enough for anyone, otherwise they belong in EHell. And if someone ever gets creepy about a cosplayer – well let’s just say cons have staff on hand to deal with harassment for a reason. Never be shy about going there, particularly (sad to say) when we’re dealing with attractive female cosplayers in more provocative outfits.

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Cherry May 31, 2012 at 7:11 am

I attended the London Film and Comic Con last summer, although I did not go in costume due to the impracticalities of travelling there in a full costume.

However, while I was there, I saw a profession group of cosplayers in brilliant Star Wars costumes who were collecting money for charity. If you wanted a picture with them, they asked you to please donate to the children’s charity they were supporting. There was no minimum amount, so you could put it whatever you could afford.

The amount of people who huffed and puffed at this, or worse, tried to sneak a picture of the cosplayers without donating was disheartening. People seemed to take such offence at the fact they were collecting money for a charity.

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Alice May 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

Thank you admin and thank you all for the responses.

Just to clarify a few points. The photographer in question was indeed out of earshot before we broke out in chuckles and giggles, a nearby cosplayer also commented on the bizarreness of the situation once he’d left.

The rest area is also obviously a rest area and slightly separate. It’s an outdoor venue, the rest area is covered by a large tent and away from the stage, vendors and artist alley, closer to where the food vendors station themselves.

After reading the comments I’m willing to peg this guy as simply new to this particular event due to some run-ins with other friends and acquaintances.

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