I've noticed a couple of posts regarding the costuming community and some of the negative crap that goes on in it, and I can't help but chime in, because it's something that's been on my mind for a really long time. I don't know exactly what person(s)/event(s) has prompted each of these posts/conversations, but I have been experiencing and witnessing the crap that causes these sorts of posts for MANY YEARS in the costuming community. Every time somebody starts speaking up about it, I get hopeful that maybe this time, we'll see some real change.
Right off the bat, I know there are some really confused people who are reading posts like this and are shocked and confused, and have been responding to these posts with an incredulous sort of "I don't think this could be true" sort of sentiment. If you've never experienced or witnessed a costumer being sweet to someone to their face and then badmouthing them the minute they leave the room, or being hurtful right to someone's face, or lying about someone, or stealing from someone, or talking down to someone, or ganging up in a clique and excluding people they don't think are as good/cool/whatever as them, or being mad that somebody "beat them to it" as far as researching/publishing something and trying to destroy their reputation out of jealousy, or otherwise being terrible. . . Well, then you've been lucky, and congratulations, you are probably either a popular kid or at least accepted by them. (Or, people are being nice to you but then laughing at you and tearing apart you and your work behind your back!) I've also heard some folks try to dismiss things and chalk it up to the fallout due to differing political opinions, but I don't think that's the case. Or at least, I KNOW that's not the case with the many years in which I have personally both experienced and/or witnessed all of the things I've mentioned.
I really think that the easiest thing we can address is the way people are so judgmental about each other's work. We are all arriving at this costuming hobby from different skill levels, different levels of funding and time availability, and different goals - some of us striving for historical authenticity, others just wanting to play dress-up, and everything in between. I have MANY TIMES been in the company of a group of costumers, and listened to them dishing out sugary sweet compliments, and then once the recipient leaves the room, completely ranking on them and making fun of their imperfect hair, lack of accessories, period-incorrect fabric, or whatever other ridiculous thing they found offensive. Can this please just stop?!? I know I can't ask people to stop feeling judgmental and superior, because some people are just like that, but can we all at least make an effort to pause for a moment, try to be aware that maybe the other person couldn't afford silk, or spent so much time putting together a dress that they didn't have time for accessories, or maybe just doesn't care about spending the time it takes to learn to do period-perfect hair because they are really just interested in the history and making of garments! And if all else fails, at least try to have at least a little bit of class, and keep your negative comments to yourself.
Also, I have this dream that this high school-esque clique bullcrap will come to an end and all the costumers will just be kind and welcoming to each other, because being left out and feeling like your community doesn't want or accept you is a crappy feeling. This one is near and dear to my heart, because I've been greatly affected by it. I've been excluded by people who were once friends (or so I thought), been ignored or glared at in response to trying to say "hello," and even once had a group of "popular" costumers stop by to talk to somebody I was sitting with, and very intentionally refused to acknowledge my presence in any way because it was very clear that I was beneath them. It was really awkward and it made me feel terrible and rejected. I see these same sorts of things happening to other costumers, too, and it all just makes me so sad. It's so unnecessary. What is to be gained by making other people feel terrible, rejected, and outcast? I promise you, if you are the most popular, best costumer in the world, and you say "hi" to someone who is "beneath" you, nobody will think you are any less of a rock star. And you might just find that some of those people who are "beneath" you are actually awesome people too, and worthy of being treated cordially, at the least!
I realize that bothering to post this at all is kind of pointless. I think the costuming community is no different than humans in general, and humans tend to feel the need to rise above and dominate everyone around them, and derive their sense of self worth from that. It's just so unfortunate because with such a large group of costumers all over the world, who all share these similar interests, there is the potential to have a wonderful community and have a lot of fun! I think it's just such a missed opportunity.
In an attempt to end things on a positive note, I will note that I am so thankful for the small group of fellow costumers who have managed to rise above all this drama and clique crap. To those of you who comment on my posts, or invite me to events, or see me at events and include me, or send me a random text/message/whatever, or say "hello" back to me when I greet you, or do other sweet things that maybe aren't popping to mind at the moment: Thank you so much for being so awesome, so kind, and so welcoming. You are the true rock stars of the costuming community!