Content Warning(s): creepy behavior, waifu culture, stalking.
Submitted for Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Our Voices & Stories.
"Sometimes when people are fans of the series that you're cosplaying from things can get super awkward really fast when they can't separate their fantasies from reality. I've had people who call the character that I'm cosplaying as as "their waifu" and when I don't respond to their creepy advances they get upset at me.
I had someone last summer at a waterpark convention come up to me in a hot tub bar when I was cosplaying as Pascal from Tales of Graces. [Editor's Note: Pascal is a female character.] Apparently they had seen me earlier in the day and asked for a photo, but I honestly don't remember every stranger that takes my photo at a con, so I was a little weirded out by a stranger swimming up to me to ask me questions.
As soon as this stranger started a conversation with me I immediately turned my head away from him and tried to ignore him. (He had actually swam up to sit in between myself and my other friend who was ALREADY right next to me.) He tried to chat me up about the Tales of Series, but I was giving one word responses and trying to avoid looking at him at all. He kept on persisting, bringing up one thing after another to keep the one-sided conversation going. It took a friend interjecting, giving me the opportunity to swim away as fast as I could for me finally get away from him.
When he retreated to the other side of the bar where he sat before he started pestering me I could see that he was still glaring at me. It seemed like he wasn't able to keep his gaze off of me and I was really creeped out by that. My friend told me that he kept on glaring at me. I am just so thankful that I was with her and not alone, because if she didn't interject and interrupt I don't know how I would have shaken him off.
I really dislike it when people who think the character you are cosplaying as is "their waifu" and that because you are cosplaying as them you owe them something. I've been harassed before by people who thought of my character as their "one true waifu" and it's really hard to enjoy cosplaying when people treat you not as another human being, but as their favourite anime or video game character. We are people, not emotionless pixelated characters."
We're so sorry you went through that, A., and we know you're far from alone in that experience of being chatted up because someone forgets you're a real person and not the actual character you're cosplaying. It's one thing if a person compliments your cosplay and states you're cosplaying their favorite character; it's another if they attempt to continue that conversation to other topics and make it clear they want more than you're willing to give.
Additionally, you said this person told you they'd asked for your picture earlier but you didn't remember them, and this makes a great point: cosplayers often do meet a lot of people and shouldn't be expected to remember everyone. Good etiquette is to introduce yourself each time unless and until you've become acquaintances, and even then, some people have difficulty identifying individuals' faces. This goes for cosplayers as well as general attendees!
We'd also like to thank your friend for their awesome active bystander interjection. This is exactly what to do when you feel your friend might be in an uncomfortable situation: interject by interacting with the person who's being targeted, and get them out of the situation, rather than engaging the offender. We're glad you got out of that awkward interaction okay, and we hope you know it wasn't your fault.