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Blackface is Ugly and I’m Being Harassed: A Tale of Cosplay & Cosplayers Gone Wrong  

NOTE: An updated, more detailed version of this piece can be found on the Huffinton Post.

Know what happens sometimes when you speak up against actual bullshit in the cosplay community that nobody wants to talk about in hopes that the issue will resolve itself without any real effort on anyone’s part? You get swarmed and trolled by racists while being called a bully (by people attempting to bully you) all for saying that blackface (and any other [race]facing) is ugly, insensitive, and unnecessary. For half a week now, this has been my reality. Luckily, I have relatively thick skin, so the harassment is more annoying for me than anything else. How’d it all start?
I saw a post in which a girl was cosplaying Candela (team Valor’s Pokemon Go gym leader).

Candela; source: http://www.zerochan.net/2022647

Great. I love Candela. Unfortunately, she decided to don blackface in the name of “accuracy” in order to do so. Even more unfortunately, she didn’t look like any black person I’ve ever seen. She came out looking quite orange. To me, it was the perfect example of why blackface is not only wrong, but just doesn’t work. She attempted to portray a beautiful character with darker skin and instead missed the mark completely and came out looking rather traffic cone. The girl not only openly stated that while she knows “people in America” think blackface is wrong, she will continue to do it because cosplay in her country is “more serious and on another level” and that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Subsequently, I made a post in which I pointed out how I feel like blackface in cosplay is:

1. Ugly – It really is. Shit rarely ever looks good or natural. It’s aesthetically offputting and startling in unpleasant ways. Your cosplay looks way better without it. Unless you’re going for a character with fantasy tone like red, or blue, etc. just rock out in the skin you’re in!

2. Insensitive – Even if your intentions are pure, you have to understand that due to the history behind things such as blackface, yellowface, redface, etc., it’s bound to rub many people the wrong way. Real people’s skintones aren’t cosplay props or costumes. I cited her Candela as an example, as seen below:

This resulted in many people agreeing, a handful disagreeing, and eventually the cosplayer herself telling me how much she doesn’t give a shit if anyone finds it wrong or offensive, demanding that I remove the post, as shown below. While I did apologize to her if she felt bothered by it, I explained to her that I would not be taking down my post.

As you can see, I told her that her decision to blackface anyway is fine (in the sense that she has to deal with the consequences and I’m not gonna lose sleep over it). And it is. I can’t make anyone change and I don’t have it in me to force it.

My stance on the issue is that it’s insensitive and ugly (it really never looks right). Cosplay whoever you want. I don’t care if white people wanna cosplay black characters. I’ve cosplayed white and Asian characters. Anyone should be able to cosplay who they want. My issue wasn’t that she was white cosplaying Candela. It was that she decided to slather herself in dark makeup, knowing it was something that many take offense to. Even when people gave her the benefit of the doubt, she lashed out and said she doesn’t give a fuck. My post was eventually removed from Facebook because she reported it (nevermind that Facebook hasn’t removed any of the porn pages I’ve reported ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

Moving on, I made another post in which I restated my stance on blackface without referring her or anyone else other than myself. I said that I’ve never personally experienced anyone failing to recognize what character I was going for, even when I’ve cosplayed non-black characters. I also mentioned that I placed in a contest as Harley Quinn, “who is quite literally right,” and I didn’t have to paint my skin in an effort to look like a white girl to do it. It was on this post that she and several of her friends decided to spam my page in defense of blackface, calling me a bully, saying that me winning “some low contest” doesn’t mean anything, and hurling other pettiness and insults my way.

These are just a few screenshots. At the time of writing, I’m still having to ban people from my page who are leaving petty insults and telling me that I’m:

1. Racist (for saying anyone can cosplay whoever they want without doing something as problematic as black facing???)

2. Ugly (I mean that’s subjective, but I think I’m pretty cute)

Possible Evidence of Cute??

3. A filthy lying irrational cunt??? (Idk where I lied, but ok)

It’s ridiculous. I’m tired of everyone ignoring the elephants in the room when it comes to cosplay. It shouldn’t be controversial for anyone to say that black facing (or any other “race facing”) is kind of a shitty thing to do and doesn’t have a place in cosplay, and yet I’m current being cyber bullied over it. I’ve seen the same thing happen to countless others who bring up race and other touchy issues in the community, no matter how calm or careful they may be. We try to pretend like nerds are more accepting than “mainstream” society, but we’re not separate or special. We are subject to the same highs and lows as any other subculture. We cannot continue to ignore discrimination and insensitive behavior based on someone’s color, race, size, gender, etc. and try to excuse it. We can’t bully those with enough courage to address it by saying that they’re the problem. Speaking up about something that is wrong is not bullying. Trying to silence people when they’re telling you “hey, this bothers me and isn’t ok” isn’t what we should be doing, nor is pretending cosplay and nerd culture don’t have issues and lashing out at the wrong people. We should be listening and trying to understand one another. Not turning a blind eye to bullshit and getting mad at people who point it out. We gotta do better, guys.

I’ve received so much racist and idiotic hate mail and harassment on my page in the last two days that it’s unbelievable. I’m not sorry for making my statement about blackface. If you think I’m a bully, you are mistaken. Holding people accountable when they do something wrong is not the same thing as hurting innocent people who are minding their own business and haven’t harmed anyone. I think a lot of people in the cosplay community have forgotten the difference between the two, but I’m confident we can get to a better place, and that there are more good people than bad.

PS: Here are two resources that do a decent job of explaining why blackface is unnecessary and insensitive for anyone interested:

~DeLa Doll
DeLa Doll Cosplay, Crafts, and Commentary

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0 thoughts on “Blackface is Ugly and I’m Being Harassed: A Tale of Cosplay & Cosplayers Gone Wrong  

  1. Your hater (Olly) says:

    Next time, dont show the screenshots with names of who is ” hating ” you on facebook 🙂 because your little loyal “things” are harassing me.
    Well, i am banned, but hey, I told you my opinion calmly, yet you banned me without your response.

  2. That "rude" and really "evil" correspondent says:

    Loool! XDDD Sorry DelaDoll, but if you’ve got time for solving this silly thing, I want to have your problems! XDDD Really! Ya maybe should know, that she’s cosplaying character! NOT YOU! OR EVEN ANYBODY OF BLACK PEOPLE! SHE’S DOING IT BECAUSE OF CHARACTER! Yes! I too don’t like makeup of her eyes and the mouth cloud be also better… But she’s trying to do cosplay of her favourite character! Damn, It’s doesn’t matter, if you you’re black, white, or Asian! It’s all about making fun and good time! God… Dude, ya’re so touchy! And you should do it something with this! C;

  3. PrincessLina says:

    What? I don’t see anything bad. She just want have a perfect cosplay, and skin tone is very important.
    You’re too touchy.

    1. That "rude" and really "evil" correspondent says:

      I think, she don’t know anything about our community… xD Well… She maybe don’t know that in the world are also cosplayers, who want to have pretty cosplay, not only something like her parody of Harley. (I’M TALKING ABOUT YOUR BAD WIG AND STUFFS LIKE THIS! I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR COLOUR! YES, DEARIE?)

  4. Ethan says:

    And where the hell did you see that Candela is black? On every fan art or pictures directly from the game she has totally different facial features,and she’s literally just tanned. Just because that cosplayer darkened her original skin color does not mean she wanted to look like you black people. Lol cowards trying to start a drama. Yeah,….everything on this damn planet has to be somehow connected to racism :))) just chill and have fun,we;european cosplayers are just laughing at this whole thing tho

  5. Nunya says:

    “Blackface” is not just using lots of bronzer, it’s a very specific look that does not aim at looking authentic, and was used mockingly; neither of which are happening here. The girl’s orange face missed the mark, but you absolutely cannot shove American culture and history on the rest of the world and shame them for not living in a country with a history of black slavery. In Mexico, they called this one guy at work negro all the time, and I would flinch and be like “omg you can’t say that”, and they looked at me like I was nuts. Our history isn’t shared by the rest of the world, and bullying foreigners into accepting our taboos is totally wrong.
    If someone is wearing racial makeup to mock that race, that is fucked up. Otherwise, it’s a costume, and should be treated as such. Just let people enjoy their hobbies, be kind to each other, and realize that their costumes are about them expressing the love they have for a character, and is not about you unless you make it about you.
    You, on the other hand, went out of your way to shove American taboos on the rest of the world. People like you give Americans a bad name. You really expect that the entire rest of the planet should alter their behavior because American history has caused us to be offended by MAKEUP!? Get over yourself. There is a big big world out there of other people to whom makeup is just makeup, and just because our society has lost its mind to where makeup is offensive, does NOT mean the rest of the world has to, or even should, follow suit. Your post is bad, and you should feel bad.

    1. Just to follow up with how this was responded to where I saw it elsewhere. Racism and Black face are not exclusive to the US. They both happen elsewhere, they cause harm elsewhere, and people object elsewhere. While the United States may have a different history of racism and have been the place that popularized Black face, we don’t have a monopoly on it. Examples:






      1. DeLa Doll says:

        Thanks for the links, Adam! These are really helpful!

      2. zzzzzz says:

        Zwarte Piet isn’t doing black face. Black Pete isnt because he is “black”, it is because he is a devil and we potray devils as someone who has clothes, face and hands dirtied by coal. That’s why it is like this.

  6. Alestair says:

    It’s very narrow minded and ignorant to think that just because something is not offensive to you, that it’s not offensive. It’s never okay to darken or lighten your skin for cosplay, or any other reason. Just because you don’t see a problem,doesn’t mean it’s not offending people. Regardless if you say “It’s not meant to offend” it does and PoC feel like they are the butt of a joke. Like you think their skin is a costume that you can wear and take off. You have no idea how much hate and hell they get for something as simple as their skin tone and you throw it on like a costume and frolick about like nothing is wrong. I can’t even begin to say how offensive that is to all PoC and you are too blind to see it.

    1. Richard says:

      So if black people breathing same air as me is offensive to me, they should stop breathing? That is some fucked up grade school level logic you got there.

      1. How is putting on a false skin the same as breathing? Your “logic” isn’t actually logic, it is saying that you are too narrow minded to understand the problem. It has nothing to do with breathing air. It would be like someone putting on a Nazi costume and walking into a Jewish Synagogue. It’s like dressing up as a KKK member and having a fake black person hanging by the neck on a stick. We’re not talking air, we are talking costumes. Let’s get that straight here.

        Anyone can wear any costume they wish at any time they wish for any reason they wish. Hopefully there are no arguments there.

        When one wears a costume, they take on a different persona. In the area of cosplay a person is becoming a character. One does not need to be the same ethnicity or even the same gender as the character to dress up as said character. There is absolutely no rule anywhere that demands you to be the same ethnicity or gender of a character you wish to dress up as. Anyone wish to argue that point?

        The problem comes when a cos-player decides that they wish to change their ethnicity to match the character. Now, in some countries who have no history of ethnic people being treated as less than another ethnic group might not be able to get out of their own heads and wrap their ignorant minds around the fact that some countries do in fact have a history that has treated and in many cases still treats any ethnicity differently then the chosen ‘higher’ ethnicity horribly. In America that ‘higher’ ethnicity just happens to be the white ethnicity. Anyone of any other ethnicity has been treated poorly. Blacks were slaves, they are looked at as thugs by some people, Jews were unclean, Mexicans are dirty thieves, Japanese are hate-filed and just want to take our jobs. The horribleness just keeps going on and in America is STILL being felt heavily. Just look at what’s going on in the 2016 Presidency.

        There is LOT of ignorance running freely here. Americans are being ignorant of the fact that not all countries have had this ethnic struggle that they’ve grown up with. Other countries are being ignorant in the fact that there are some countries who have a history and still do have this ethnic struggle.

        For those who have grown up with this ethnic struggle and happen to be part of the ethnic group who has been determined ‘less’ than the white ethnic group may see a lighter colored person painting themselves as their ethnicity–in this case black–may see it as an insult. This person who pretends to be black can at the end of the day –or even if they are suddenly treated unfairly because of their skin color– take the make-up off. “Stop treating me like shit, see? I am the same as you.” People of Color cannot take their color off and say “I am the same as you”. While many believe wholeheartedly that every person is the same, skin color means nothing, there is plenty who do not believe this. We all know that they are the problem. They are the ones who keep this ethnicity conflict going for absolutely no reason at all.

        In many ways it can be seen as lying. Like it or not you are in fact pretending to be a different ethnicity then the one you are born. Of course you are also pretending to be a character who more in likely does not exist beyond movie/television screen or page. But the character cannot look at you and say “What the absolute fuck?” The creator of said character might, but I do not believe any would care and actually feel great seeing their creations come to life. In other words, no matter the character, there is no one to take offense (outside those crazed fans) at how you portray the character. You can’t really insult anyone. But pretending to be another race can offend those of the race you are pretending to be as well as those who are the same race as you.

  7. zzzzz says:

    “White privilege in cosplay needs to stop.”
    I’m still looking for this “white privilege in cosplay”, since ‘black people’ can lighten your skin for a cosplay, and a ‘white people’ can’t darken… ~(-_-)

    Skin color should never be cause for offense. We are all equal, or not? I believe that we’re all equal… Everbyody can make great cosplay, painting the skin or not… Cosplay is love, not offense.

    1. Lightening ones skin for cosplay isn’t really okay either, though.

      And as far as “we’re all equal goes”, ideally we would be, practically we’re not when it comes to a lot of issues.

  8. Fenix D'Joan says:

    Please keep going and don’t give up. Blackface in cosplay doesn’t belong. Our skin color is not a costume and it’s something we can just take off and put on whenever we like. White privilege in cosplay needs to stop.

    1. Richard says:

      White privilege. Lefties never cease to amuse me.

  9. Disaasterpiece says:

    I can’t believe there are so many people in this world who are so small-minded and ignorant. Everyone with a brain knows that your post isn’t racist, and this ignorant little Cosplayer is ridiculous by saying what she is doing isn’t offensive. It’s ridiculously offensive, and just because no one cares in your country, that doesn’t make it not so.

  10. Lucy says:

    You somehow forgot to mention that you were harassing and almost cyberbullying MiYu, making fun of her on your profile. Call the feedback rude or whatever, you reap what you sow. Let’s for a moment live in the present, where we all try to live in equality. It’s not wrong to paint yourself in any color, if it’s not intended to make fun of a certain race. In this case, it was only for accuracy. YES, IT WAS. I just think you are somehow bound by cultural differences. We should all be open. Not just hate. And bully. AND SEND LIFE THREATS. Regardless of our skin color.

    1. DeLa Doll says:

      When did I cyberbully and harass her. I never went to her page aside from commenting on the initial Candela post asking “what is this?” (A comment she deleted). I did change my profile picture on my personal page to her candela cosplay, very briefly. I didn’t send her any messages, spam her page, threaten her, bully her, etc. But that’s what she and her friends did to me. I owned up to the profile picture thing, and that’s all it was. Don’t make it out to be something more than that.

    2. DeLa Doll says:

      And I don’t hate anyone. Even after my post that had her picture in it (a picture which was publicly posted on her own cosplay page, not “stolen” from a private page as she claimed), was removed and there no more mention of her on my page, she and her friends kept bothering me, going as far as to throw racist insults (“lil ape”, “monkey”, etc.)
      If you can’t see the difference here, that’s on you. Thanks for your comment, though!

      1. John says:

        and laughing at her with your friends under the profile pic you set up on your page? Comparing her to annoying orange? thats certainly nothing as you say
        Maybe you should recosinder. Stuff you did have hurt her badly. It seems that you are now the insensitive one.

  11. MaestroZ says:

    Been a while since i read such a long racist article which even calls itself anti-racist. Absolutely disgusting

  12. Saili says:

    Loved the article and completely agree that black face is just bad thing to do. The lady mentioned is from the same country that I live in and to some extent I sorta understand where she is coming from. We are a very small country in the middle of europe and nothing like a black face and such ever was a problem or a thing here and because of that people don’t really pay much attention to it and do see it as necessarily wrong. I mean, there was a obvious black face even in our national tv in some stupid tv contest or whatever it was and nobody even blinked or said anything against it. We don’t have many people of coulour here and almost none in the cosplay community. However, that obviously is not an excuse and does not make the act less ignorant, but I’d said it shines some light on where it comes from. I really wished people here would be less ignorant.

    1. Amy D. says:

      THIS! I am half Sri Lankan, half white and therefore am never going to find a character to cosplay that is my ethnicity. So I cosplay whoever I want. I never make my skin look pale when I cosplay Zatanna, and I never darken my skin when I cosplay Dee from Rat Queens. Its ok to cosplay outside your gender, skin tone, etc but it is NOT OK to use makeup to achieve their ethnicity in my opinion. I don’t do it to look white, why is it ok for others to do it to look black, Asian, Native American, etc.?

  13. Zdeněk Pala says:

    Yay! I´m here! I´m famous! And I wanted to be friendly and still ended like bad person. 😀

    PS: Can I send you screens from conversations with your friends who threatened me with my death and the death of my family and friends? Racially insulted me etc.? Will you be interested?

    PPS: I still do not get it why is this SOOO wrong for black people. It is just cosplay damn it. It is not some racial ridicule. If someone cosplaing black character, I think that the cosplayer LOVE that character and wants to be like him.
    I think you just want to look for problems where they are not and insult white persons for something they want to do. Because racial problems are now cool.
    Or are you just angry that black makeup on white person is easier than white makeup on black person?

    Nah. You will delete this coment anyway (Just like on the FB. You did not have any arguments. There was no discussion. YOu just BANned people).

    Have a nice day

    1. DeLa Doll says:

      I don’t delete comments on my website; I only delete them on my Facebook when it’s clear that the users are only there to troll and be rude to others. 🙂

      1. Anonymous says:

        I call BS on that. I never trolled or was rude to anyone, just provided a different opinion and stayed civil the entire time, yet you banned me and removed any messages (not just mine) that didn’t didn’t go along your thoughts.

      2. Anonymous says:

        OK aka “you are right but I am not going to admit it because I don’t want to look bad since I have no good come back so I’m just going to brush it off and accuse you of trolling and being rude for no reason.”

        1. DeLa Doll says:

          More like, why would I give anyone who clearly thinks I’m a shitty person the platform to talk about how shitty they think I am?

        2. DeLa Doll says:

          I didn’t accuse you of anything. I said “ok”
          As in…ok. Ok, if that’s how you feel. Ok, I really don’t care. You think I’m rude, insensitive, immature, etc. That’s fine, but I’m not about to let you use MY platform to voice that. If you feel that strongly, write about it. Don’t come bothering me thinking I should be perfectly fine with it.

        3. DeLa Doll says:

          “Oh I can’t believe you didn’t censor the names of people who publicly harassed you on your own page! I can’t believe you’re banning people who come to your page just to tell you how awful they think you are!”

      3. Anonymous says:

        Not that I can’t believe, I just think that you shouldnt be saying things that aren’t true or avoiding accountability for what you say/post/show by hiding behind empty words and acting all innocent and victimised if called out.

        1. DeLa Doll says:

          I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I’m not acting “innocent and victimized.” Lol. Y’all are fucking incredible with how much effort you’re putting into trying to make me out to be a villain because I
          1. Wrote about my experiences
          2. Banned people who came to my page to troll me, harass me, tell me I’m a liar and a shitty person, etc.
          Coming to my page to talk shit under the guise of “oh I’m just politely commenting” when your intent and words say otherwise still counts as harassment. That’s why you and whoever else was banned got banned. I don’t even understand why you’re bent out of shape over it except that you feel it’s something you can “call” me on. I haven’t denied or lied about anything. If you wanna give someone a lesson, pick someone who actually needs it and stop wasting your time here.

      4. Anonymous says:

        Yeah okay, keep trying to convince yourself you did absolutely nothing wrong. Again, not saying everything you posted was wrong, but some of it could have been better but you won’t even understand that and become a better person.

    2. Clueless Belle says:

      But honey, you did the same thing on Facebook and Tumblr. You literally just said you don’t see the issue. Dealing with racially insensitive people is draining, having someone trivialize your race and it’s baggage is demoralizing. If people sent you death threats, it wasn’t from Dela’s message, cause she monitored it and told people to not stoop so low in anger. The truth is you can do whatever you want in cosplay but there are consequences. If you want to be insensitive to the struggles of PoCs in cosplay, don’t be surprised when they push back.

      1. Lazz says:

        >Don’t be surprised when they push back.
        Really can’t see anything that could justify death threats.

        1. DeLa Doll says:

          I never justified death threats. Please don’t accuse me of things I haven’t done. Several times when people tried to call names or threaten her or her friends on my page, I corrected them and/or deleted their comments. I don’t allow or condone that on my page.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Yeah okay, keep trying to convince yourself you did absolutely nothing wrong. Again, not saying everything you posted was wrong, but some of it could have been better but you won’t even understand that and become a better person.

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