I’ve been thinking a lot about how easy it is to encourage and give hope, but also how easy it is to injure and beat down.
I’m like a lot of us- I carry around compliments and nice things people have said to me like little pieces of precious metal- to pull out and look at when I’m low.
And I also carry around insults and jabs- some from when I was a child. And really, they feel heavier.
This is true for most of us. In work or in relationships, researchers estimate that it takes between 5-10 compliments to offset every insult.
For every negative thing you say to someone, especially a child, you need to say ten positive things.
I knew this intuitively, but as always for me, it helps to see it in scholarly or research form. I knew this not just because of my own experience, but in what I see in cosplay and at conventions. I love this drawing, because it is so true:
Cosplay changed my daughter’s life. The people she met at our very first convention were so kind, so encouraging and so very positive that she left that event saying “I wish I could live at the convention.”
These are the first people that we met. I am sad at how bad this photo is, and very much wish I could tag them, but I want to at least give them credit and love and appreciation here
I went to a panel led by the gentleman in the top hat the next day, and he even spent some time emphasizing just how important it can be to a young person to be accepted. Steampunk might have generally accepted rules and conventions, but you should never smack somebody down for their effort.
He said, “you might see a young cosplayer, and their whole costume might be just a pair of goggles.” “And that is GREAT.”
I’m so grateful to him, the ladies in this photo, the artist Eric Burton, who we met at the same convention, and the so many other cosplayers and artists and creators who have been kind to us. Thank you.
I think most people don’t know how much of an effect they can have, even with one small compliment.
But they do, and they can help someone overcome a devastating insult or attack.
We’ve had overwhelmingly positive experiences in cosplay, but just this month, at RTX in Austin, Texas, one of my daughter’s heroes was, well, an ass.
She chose RTX, the convention for the production company Rooster Teeth for her senior trip. I would have taken her to England or Japan, but she wanted to go to Austin and meet the men and women who make her favorite programs.
It’s her dream job to work for them.
We spent extra money on a VIP pass and she worked for weeks on cosplay and on making art to give as gifts to the celebrity folks to make the shows.
and the vast majority of them were LOVELY and fantastic and complimentary and everything we’ve come to expect and hope for at a convention.
But one of the people she was hoping to meet was mean. And that’s really sad.
She stood in line for hours to meet the star of a show she likes (she wouldn’t want me to say which one), and when she got to meet him, she expressed what a big fan she was.
He then proceeded to quiz her on, “well did you see X episode”?
and when she faltered and wasn’t sure, he mocked her, because it was a “trick question”. “We didn’t do an episode about that.”
Is this because she was female? Young? is he just mean? Who knows.
but out of all the stories she told me after her experiences, including fantastic ones, it was the experience she told me about the most. It hurt. It made her feel small and stupid. It crushed her. Words like that are even stronger from someone you respect or admire.
Cosplay daughter used to want to code, until I sent her to a computer camp where she was outnumbered by insulting and abusive boys. This reminds me of that.
I’m just glad the positive outweighed the negative at RTX.
I don’t know why someone would behave like that. Arrogance. Misogyny. Damage. I don’t know. But it’s a very strong and valuable reminder to me about how much power both positive and negative feedback and interactions have.
I talked to cosplayers at the convention, mostly working my way down lines of people waiting to get into events. I met lots of wonderful, creative, supremely talented cosplayers like these
Most of the cosplayers were open and happy and proud and ready to share. We would chat, and I’d take photos, and we’d talk materials and characters and backstories with the surrounding crowd.
But as I worked my way up one line, I saw two young Camp Camp cosplayers ahead trying to make themselves smaller and smaller. They couldn’t have had clearer body language that they didn’t want to talk to me. They drew down into themselves and tried to disappear.
So of course I left them alone.
But at the time, I wanted badly to just walk by and say something nice. And now I’m just so much hoping that they didn’t stand in line to meet the nasty celebrity. I hope they had a good and positive convention.
and I hope, very much, that I always remember this lesson. And say nice things. And be positive.
I want very much to be one of the 5 to 10 compliments that helps counter any insult a cosplayer receives.