French cosplay champion Alice Livanart will not compete at the EuroCosplay finals after she was accused of "blackface."
The EuroCosplay Championships, to be held at MCM Comic Con in London later this month, pit together the winners of individual competitions in 25 European countries.
Alice Livanart won the France Cosplay Cup in September 2019 with her cosplay of League of Legends character Pyke.
However, her costume has now been banned from the European finals after allegations on social media that it was insensitive.
"We hear and appreciate all of your concerns regarding the costume of one of our finalists," said EuroCosplay in a statement addressing Livanart's entry. "We would like to confirm that this cosplay will not be appearing in the event, and we would like to apologise for any offence caused."
Livanart posted a comparison of herself in normal life and in the Pyke costume on Instagram, which she said was intended to highlight the "power of cosplay".
View this post on Instagram
#POWEROFCOSPLAY ✅ This is the true power of cosplay ! I made Pyke (@leagueoflegends ) because I wanted to show everyone that you can be whoever you want. 💪 I won the french cup of cosplay with only one purpose : making Pyke real 🏆 I wanted to push crossplay on a whole new level even though it was the hardest cosplay I ever made. My goal : inspiring people to go beyond their limits 🍾 . . Photo left : @b.rugraff . . #cfc2k19 #cfc #coupedefrancedecosplay #pykelol #pykeleagueoflegends #leagueoflegendscosplay #leagueoflegends #pykecosplay #pyke #bilgewater #moba #lolcosplay #powerofcosplay #power #sfx #silicon #protese #crossplay #protesedesilicone #smoothon #riotgames #videogame #livanartcosplay #sidebyside
The costume has divided social media. The cosplayer says she "understands" her critics but has defended the choice.
"There is a huge difference between blackface and cosplay," she said.
"I am not saying blackface doesn't exist. I am saying Pyke isn't blackface.
"I made Pyke with all the love I have for that character. He is amazing and I just wanted to be him, because I love him. And that's cosplay.
"Pyke is a fictitious character, he doesn't exist. The only reason he's alive and walking is because there's something magic in cosplay."
She said despite the backlash online, there have also been messages of support.
"Some people wrote me messages that really touched me," she said. "And helped me when I was down, when I was crying, because I didn't understand what was happening.
"I still have so much support and love, also hate, of course, and now more people know me. I spent €3,000 (£2,700) on Pyke. I made so many sacrifices."
But critics have not been swayed by the amount of money Livanart spent on the costume, saying it "doesn't take away from the fact they're wearing a dark skin colour".
In response to EuroCosplay's announcement, many welcomed the costume being removed from the contest, and encouraged the organisers to "make sure you do better in the future".
EuroCosplay were also asked to take another look at their rules, "to prevent racist cosplays" making it to the finals.
Good. Consider tightening your rules to prevent racist cosplays like this from slipping through the qualifiers in the future.— 2spoop4myself♎️worst Libra ever (@ComplexIcarus) October 8, 2019
However, the decision to exclude Livanart has divided the cosplay community, with many people criticising the organisers for their decision.
And the main point made by those defending the cosplayer is they simply do not believe that her costume constitutes blackface.
It's scary that in late 2019 many people, including professionals, can't tell the difference between painting your face black to mock and make fun of black people, and painting your face black in order to honour and give tribute and life to a beloved fictional character.— Alaric Salvatore (@Nephyxx) October 9, 2019
Others agreed, saying there was a difference between "dark make-up worn in a caricature of a black person" and cosplay.
There has been no consensus and the divisions run deep, but the critics have not affected Livanart's plans to cosplay the character in the future.
"Yes, I am going to cosplay Pyke," she said. "I will not let him down, he's like my baby.
"I worked too much on this cosplay for it to stay in the closet."