From Terrorist Insults To Sexism: M'sian Shares Social Stigma Hijabi Cosplayers Face
"Hatsune Miku is now a terrorist!"
That's what Dina heard when she cosplayed for the first time, styling her headscarf to look like the beloved anime-looking virtual idol with turquoise hair.
While Dina said the provocateur might have just joked about it in passing, the ramification of such a comment left a lasting impact on her when she first started cosplaying at 16 years old.
"There were a few comments made about me while I was cosplaying Hatsune Miku: 'This character is going to bomb my house'. At that time, the remark didn't really take me aback because I was in a silly, goofy mood.
"But that's something people would say simply because we wear hijab," she said.
To Dina, her innocence and excitement about pursuing cosplay as a hobby were shaken by such a comment that was Islamophobic and offensive in nature.
According to her, derogatory comments, such as suggesting that hijabi cosplayers deserve to be sexually harassed, are all too common. Oftentimes, the comments made are dismissed as casual remarks by the harassers and even day-to-day people outside the community.
Over the years, Dina has heard many unsavoury 'jokes' about hijabi cosplayers that can be deemed as hate speech and sexual harassment
She even shared screenshots of rude comments she and her cosplay peers have received over the years with us.
In fact, sexual harassment is so prevalent at comic and anime conventions that there is a movement dedicated to fighting against this problem. Called 'Cosplay Is Not Consent' (CINC), it is a decade-old global movement that cosplayers all around the world have thrown their weight behind.
"'Cosplay is not consent' is a term that we always use. Just because we are cosplaying, it doesn't mean that you can take videos and photos, make crude comments, or treat us rudely," Dina stressed.
Additionally, hijabi cosplayers like Dina face an additional level of harassment because they style their hijabs to resemble the hair of the characters they're portraying
The styling of the hijab is a contentious topic. In Islam, the practice of wearing hijab is to fulfil the religious obligation of modesty and to maintain one's dignity.
Muslim women are advised not to display their beauty except to close family members or in certain circumstances. The interpretation of these instructions varies from one group to another, but the general principle is to cover the body in a modest and dignified manner.
With that said, some factions would argue that deliberate styling to make headscarves look like hair is against the faith.
This divisive subject is more apparent in the cosplay world because hijabi cosplayers wear headscarves in different colours and style them accordingly to mimic various characters' hair.
"The hijab styling topic within the cosplay community is an endless discussion, with a lot of opinions given over the years. This issue will be brought up every year without a miss.
"But at the end, as much as we wanted to argue about it, it's still wrong. Hence, I set a line where I have to make sure that the characters I cosplay do cover up appropriately," Dina said.
She told SAYS that she believes that hijabi cosplayers have the freedom to experiment however they want, as long as they do not go overboard.
"I hate it when my mutual friends get harassed and receive hateful comments just because they are not wearing hijab 'properly'. They are crossing the line, and it's sickening," Dina added.
Dina hopes that people can treat hijabi cosplayers, or any women who choose to style their hijab, with kindness and avoid policing their attire
"If you don't have anything nice to say, just shut it.
"You don't have to spread it around or invite people to join you in criticising others. Everyone is different. At the end of the day, just be nice to each other," Dina said, emphasising the importance of kindness and respect towards the cosplay community.
She also advised people with the intention to harm cosplayers to stop attending cosplay events and for the cosplayers to be careful at all times.
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