This issue is the manner in which these "prop" flags are treated.
On more than one occasion I have noticed cosplayers allowing flags to drag on the floor, tying them around their necks as capes, and even using them as blankets to either cover themselves or sit on.
This is unacceptable, not just in the cosplay world but universally. Showing proper respect for your flag is also showing proper respect for your country, and any disrespect done to the flag is an injury done to that country as well. Why do you think burning flags is so highly offensive?
Any proper flag of a decent size, no matter what nation you are from or happen to be in, must be treated with proper attention. This especially applies to those flags around the size of 3x5 feet or higher.
A flag should:
-Be held up high, put on a pole or handle whenever possible.
-Be folded and/or neatly draped whenever not in use.
-Be treated with utmost reverance and appreciation.
-Be respected as you would respect yourself and the country you are cosplaying.
A flag should NOT:
-Be allowed to touch or drag on the floor. (This is why I find flags being used as blankets particularly disgusting, since the puts the flag at risk of getting dirty and being stepped on.)
-Be treated as a prop or an accessory or peice of clothing (i.e.: Cape, headband, armband, apron, blanket, etc...) or anything other than a flag.
-Be left lying around unkempt and wrinkled when not in use.
This is not just information to be used in cosplay, but goes for when using flags in any and all circumstances. So please, if you yourself use flags in Hetalia cosplay or know others who do please, please pass this information on to them. Not only will this keep your flag in good condition, but will also honor the nation which you are portraying (more so if you're cosplaying your own country!!!). If you don't care and don't want to take the time to show proper respect for a flag (or it's simply too big for you to do so), I would recommend not using a flag at all. I don't want to be condoning, but this is just common courtesy, and you run the risk of offending someone if you do not pay attention to where you flag is.
So please, respect your nations. Repect your flags.
**EDIT: For anyone with larger flags, here is a link which explains how to proprly fold it when not using it or for display."**
**EDITEDIT: I alluded to this, but I'll just add that this only applies legitimate flags. Towels, blankets or head-scarves with flag prints on it are meant to be used as towels, blankets or head-scarves, so this does not apply to them. Don't be afraid to use them as intended~! =3