Carbon’s Cosplay Corner: How to say No

Welcome back! We've covered all the basics about Drafting, and I think this is a good time to talk about something important about the culture of Cosplaying: the ability to say "no".

This isn't a skill that most people consider when they decide to start cosplaying, but I would argue that it's one of the most important. Of all the skills that I've learned while cosplaying, I'd rank it as the most important, and the one I've used the most in real life. While in cosplay, you'll run into a variety of different situations that can make you uncomfortable. Even amidst the Cosplay is not Consent movement, there's still a huge issue of people not respecting Cosplayers personal space. Please remember, at the end of the day, you're cosplaying for you and to have a fun time. You have every right to say no to anyone, for any reason, without explanation.


Photos are by far the most common interaction you'll have with strangers while cosplaying. Fellow fans will ask for pictures of you or with you and that's okay! Most photos are going to be quick and fun, but some people will try and push your boundaries. Typically, this will mean that someone is pulling you too close, trying to pick you up or putting their hands somewhere that you aren't comfortable with. To avoid having this happen, you can take some preventative measures like requesting that all photos are posed a certain way. If you're Solaire, you can always pose like you're praising the sun, or you can do a duo victory pose with the other person. By making a statement like "Yes, I'm okay with a photo, we can pose like this", you set a clear boundary that will be harder to cross. If they say they aren't okay with that, you can say something like "Then I'm not okay with taking a photo," or "I'm sorry but those are the only photos I'm doing."

If you aren't open to taking photos at that time, you can also say no to someone. Frequently while waiting for events, I'll take part of my armor off, or put on sweat pants to warm up a little. When people ask me for photos, I say things like "I'm sorry, I'm only doing selfies right now, but you can find me at [location] and [time] if you want to get a photo then." Other times, I'll be running late to an event and people will try & stop me for photos. When this happens, I normally say "I'm late to [event] right now, you can follow me and we can take a picture there." Some people will follow you there for a photo, and others will try and find you late. Both are perfectly okay.


Talking with other cosplayers can be a really fun way to connect with people and learn new techniques for prop fabrication, but sometimes people go too far in their 'advice.' The goal with all advice is to be constructive. This frequently means talking about positives, negatives, and possible avenues for improvement. The most common statement I see is "wow, you left out x part of the cosplay." Typically when people make these comments I ask them "How did you make it?" They normally respond with "Oh well I don't cosplay," at which point you can kindly ask them to leave you alone.

Make or Buy

Talking about how you made a costume is very normal in the cosplay community, but that doesn't mean you have to talk about it. I personally frequently ask people how they made their props because I enjoy learning new methods, and because a lot of people enjoying talking about how they built something. Some people will ask more in-depth questions like "Did you make or Buy your cosplay," or "How much money did you spend." If you don't feel comfortable disclosing this information, *you don't have to.* You can respond with a simple "I prefer not to talk about it," or "I don't like talking about it."

Handling Props

Many times at conventions, people will want to hold your props. The decision to let them do so is completely up to you. In the past, I've had props that are weak or unstable, and I've also had a lot of people mishandling them. I've unfortunately even had someone break one of my props at a convention. More often than not, I see people mishandling my props, so I no longer let non-cosplayers hold my work. If you're uncomfortable with someone handling a prop, be ready to say, "no, I'm sorry, but I don't let people hold it" or "You need to hand that back and ask next time you pick up a prop." Before I stopped letting people handle props, I practiced saying statements like "Yes, but please don't touch x, it's very weak."

Practicing saying No

Before a convention, it can be a good time to write some ways to say no to people, and to then practice them with your pets, parents, friends, mirrors stuff animals or figures. Saying the words over and over will help you build confidence, and they'll feel more natural when you have to say them to someone in person. I've found that it's the hardest to say it the first time, but after that it gets much easier to tell people no.

Contacting Con Security

If you ever have someone who is making you feel extremely uncomfortable and not leaving you alone, remember that you can always contact con security. They are there to make sure that you feel safe and that no one is putting you in danger.

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