This "Define Cosplay" shirt is on sale at Hot Topic. It says cosplay means "do it right or not at all."
There is no "right" way to cosplay. If you can't sew and instead make a cardboard version of a costume, that's fine. If you apply rule 63, that's good too. Not the right shape, height, color of the character you're cosplaying as? Doesn't matter. Cosplay the characters you love, have fun, and don't pay attention to what anyone says about it.
I hate the message this shirt screams. Hot Topic may not have designed it, but they could have rejected it and used the opportunity to create a tee that communicates a positive message about cosplay. Maybe they need suggestions. I have a couple:
- dress up like whomever you want, it's all right
- do it, have fun, everyone wins
It's bad enough for those of us in the community, but what kind of elitist signal is this sending to non-geeks or people who want to cosplay and have been too shy to do so? It's bullying captured in a t-shirt. Ugh.
h/t Molly McIsaac
UPDATE 11/15: Hot Topic replied to me on Facebook about the shirt: Hot Topic wrote: "Hey Amy, thanks for reaching out. We are sorry you found the shirt's message to be negative. We intended the message to encourage cosplayers to go all out. That said, we're removing the shirt from our site in response to your feedback."
UPDATE 11/17: Geeks Are Sexy posted about the cosplay shirt and this post today, and I think their post was misleading. I was far from the only person who spoke out against the cosplay shirt. Molly McIsaac, Jessica Merizan, and several others did via Facebook and Twitter. When I left a comment for Hot Topic I at no point said "take down this shirt", I asked what's up with the negativity? They replied to me with the message above which they also copy/pasted to almost everyone who commented about the tee on Twitter and Facebook. There's no way a store would pull something down because one person didn't like it. That would be dumb.