Can Cosplayers Improve Their Body Image With Revealing Costumes & Photos?

When you see cosplayers wearing revealing costumes or posing for “sexy” photos (aka: “boudoir shots”), it’s common for some of them to say they did it because they have body image issues and they wanted to confront them by being more exposed, either in public or in photos. But is this a wise or effective way for everyone to confront their body image issues? What are some other practical ways you can deal with not feeling happy or comfortable with your body?

Credit: Social Media Victims Law Center

Justifying Revealing Costumes and “Sexy” Cosplay Photos

There is an old saying that states, “Do what you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” Some costumers take that concept and apply it to cosplay, assuming that if they feel awkward in revealing costumes or posing for sexy photos, then that means they need to do it more often to begin to feel comfortable with it and their bodies.

But, in some cases, the discomfort you feel with the idea of showing off parts of your body in a costume isn’t something that needs to be challenged, because it might be your conscience telling you that what you are about to do is not right for you. Doing more of it would only be training yourself to ignore your conscience trying to protect you from a potential mistake. As a cosplayer, you should never let photographers, fans, other cosplayers, yourself, or anyone else pressure you into wearing costumes or posing for photos that make you feel uncomfortable. 

The Downside to Wearing or Posing in Revealing Costumes

Wearing revealing costumes may temporarily provide a confidence boost for some cosplayers. It may even help improve their body image. But you should not assume that it’s a sustainable or healthy solution for dealing with body image issues for everyone, especially children. There can be several potential negative consequences. Some of these include:

  1. Objectification: When cosplayers are portrayed as sexual objects, it can reinforce harmful societal messages that they are primarily valued for their appearance. Some cosplayers may confuse this objectification with love or acceptance from their audience. This can take a toll on their mental health and well-being when they realize they aren’t being respected for their craft. 
  2. Sexual harassment and cyberbullying: Revealing costumes and photos can invite unwanted attention and harassment from others. That doesn’t mean that you deserve to be harassed. But the world is full of people who may not share your standards of what is an appropriate comment to make to cosplayers.
  3. Damage to professional reputation: They can also potentially harm a cosplayer’s professional reputation, particularly if they work in a field that is sensitive to public image, such as teaching, politics, or law enforcement.
  4. Regret: Cosplayers who feel pressured to pose for revealing photos may later regret those decisions, particularly if they feel that they were not fully in control of the situation. 
  5. Breaking the law: If you are underage, it is illegal in most countries to be posing for any photos where it might be determined that you were being exploited. Consequently, adult cosplayers need to be careful when encouraging their audience to tackle body image issues by exposing themselves in photos.

Put Your Safety and Well-being First

Cosplayers need to make appropriate decisions about the costumes they choose to wear and the types of photos they pose for. They also need to be aware of the potential risks and consequences of those decisions. If you’re into cosplay for the artistry, it can be far more gratifying artistically to know you’re being appreciated for a fantastic costume than it is to know the reactions you’re getting are linked solely to your willingness to show more skin. Regardless of your motivations, cosplayers should prioritize their own safety and well-being, and choose to only wear costumes they feel comfortable wearing and only pose for and share photos that make them feel proud and empowered.

If you have body image issues or feel distressed by the thought of wearing revealing costumes, forcing yourself to wear them may only create new problems. Having a negative body image can be a complex problem that requires thoughtful, long-term solutions and posing for photos wearing scanty costumes may not have the desired effect. Also remember that once those photos are posted online, you lose control over what people do with them and they can be something you have to deal with forever.

cosplay photo
Only pose for and share photos that make you feel proud and empowered.

Your Body Image Can Change

When you’re not happy with your body, it can be a challenge to enjoy costuming, a hobby that can bring you attention in person and online. But a negative body image is all about self-perception and that is something you can change. 

According to BeWell Stanford, “A person’s body image is dynamic and ever-changing throughout the lifespan. People tend to move along a continuum of how they perceive themselves at various stages of life, such as when they age or gain or lose weight.” 

While exposing themselves may have legitimately helped some cosplayers change their body image, others may still find that strategy highly undesirable for themselves. Feeling horrified by the idea of being seen in public or in photos wearing a revealing costume is a normal feeling for most people. There are many ways you can work on changing your body image that have nothing to do with exposing yourself in ways that make you uncomfortable. 

Healthy Ways to Improve Your Body Image

If you find yourself struggling with body image issues, here are some healthy ways of dealing with them:

  1. Focus on the fun and creativity of cosplaying: Shift the focus away from your appearance and instead focus on the joy and creativity of the cosplaying process. Embrace the opportunity to embody a character you love and bring that character to life through your costume. Feel free to reinterpret the character in a way that you feel works best for your specific body.  
  2. Practice self-care: Take care of your body and mind by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that make you feel good. This can include exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and loved ones. Knowing that you are doing what you can to care for your body can help boost your confidence and body image.
  3. Surround yourself with positive influences: Seek out supportive friends and communities who embrace people of different shapes and sizes and encourage self-love. Participate in cosplay groups or events that promote body positivity.
  4. Limit exposure to media: Even with more diverse body types included in advertising and entertainment, the vast majority of media feed you images of celebrities and models with unrealistic body standards. Many of these people look the way they do because of thousands of dollars spent on makeup, photo manipulation, cosmetic surgery, stylists, or even drug use. It’s an illusion that is unattainable and unhealthy for the majority of the population.  
  5. Seek professional help: If body image issues are impacting your mental health and well-being, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a therapist or counselor. They can provide tools and effective strategies to help you build a healthier relationship with your body and self-image.

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