I started out as a reluctant cosplayer. The truth is, I always felt embarrassed by my size and worried that I wouldn’t find anything that looked good or fit me properly. The nerd community can be cruel to female cosplayers and even worse to fat chicks who cosplay. Finding a character I love enough to cosplay, creating a costume that resembles her/him enough so that strangers recognize the outfit EVEN THOUGH I am not the same size/color as the character, well it always seemed like an overwhelming task that I wasn’t ready to commit to. I am all too familiar with instances of public body shaming, and the idea of placing myself in the spotlight at a con terrified more than thrilled me.
Then I met the Collectress. My cosplaying, co-blogging, blogmate who promised to FOREVER help make my cosplay dreams come true, if I would only give the medium a chance.
This story, of course, begins and ends with Dean Winchester.
I love him, so I wanted to cosplay as him. And I did. Twice. These two outfits were actually the easiest to create, since I practically live in tee shirts and jeans, combat boots are awesome and plaid is a Supernatural fan staple. The tee and jeans route is always a bit of a cosplay cop out, so I accented my outfits with a machete, flask, the samulet to help make my costume more authentic, and left it at that.
When my co-blogger decided we were going to do an Avengers photoshoot and dress in costume for WonderCon 2014, I shrugged, offered to dress as Captain America (he’s so cute and simple) and began plotting my strategy. With this cosplay, I went with a pin-up femme version of the character, purchased a halter dress off Etsy, put my hair in victory rolls and began to feel damn good about how my outfit turned out. After a day spent strolling the floor at the convention, I may not have been the most photographed superhero in our group, but I didn’t get teased–only complimented on my hard work and attention to detail.
I’m not saying there weren’t moments I felt out of place, especially when people came up to our group and asked for three (or two) out of four of us to take a picture, but I didn’t have a single harsh word spoken to me–although I did have Thor, Black Widow and Loki as backup. With a supportive group of friends to cosplay with, the body shaming and preconceived notions of who should and shouldn’t cosplay didn’t phase me. We stayed inside our bubble of awesomeness and enjoyed our time in geekdom, interacting only in positive ways with other cosplayers and fans. The most uncomfortable any one of us became was when a photographer would snap a picture without consent or when someone asked for a picture and then proceeded to place his hands on body parts without permission. Still, interacting with fans at a convention can feel affirming, especially when you’re recognized and appreciated for your dedication to fandom.
But cons aren’t why I cosplay. In fact, the best cosplay days consist of me, a car full of friends, a camera and a day spent outside. If you can’t spend hours prepping hair and makeup, strolling craft stores and driving miles to get a good shot in amazing light with geeks who have no shame, then who can you cosplay with?
When we decided to schedule a Disney Villains photo shoot two weeks after G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S., and only a few days before the super cosplay duo planned to leave for England, it felt a little rushed. We gave ourselves a month to prepare outfits, after mentally planning the shoot all year long, simply because the summer was so damn busy. We’d been wanting to do a Disney cosplay forever, planning and dreaming on Tumblr for months before actually setting a date for the shoot. The Spaniard claimed Maleficent as soon as the first whisper of the theme came up and my dear Collectress is a pirate and so Captain Hook chose her, you might say. I, on the other hand, waffled. I really, really wanted to dress as Ursula, but the costumes looked so elaborate and I have zero-to-less-than sewing skills, so I feared the final product might not look as authentic as some I’d come across. I also know Ursula is an “acceptable” costume for a big girl, but that’s not why I chose her. I ultimately wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try something more feminine. I’d crossplayed and done femme versions of male characters, and this was to be my first attempt at a female character. The super cosplay duo promised to make me a ridiculously puffy (and oh-so-perfect) tulle skirt if I took care of the rest, and so I set out to figure out how to transform myself into Ursula the Sea Witch without a lot of time, cash or purple skin (because ITCHY). I got creative this time and created elaborate blue and purple twists in my hair, with jewelry accents such as Ursula’s shell earrings and necklace and an octopus hair clip. I pulled it all together with a black corset on top of a homemade black, purple and blue tulle skirt and was good to go. When the day finally came for us to take the pictures, we piled into the minivan, drove to a secluded beach and frolicked in the sand until the sun went down.
You haven’t lived until you’ve picked up your kid from school, dressed in cosplay with a car full of Disney villains and then eaten at iHop with a table seating half a dozen cartoon characters.
As I prepare for the 2015 convention season (I’m making a new list, don’t worry), cosplay is at the forefront of my thoughts. Who do I want to cosplay as at WonderCon? Should I dress up for the Long Beach Comic Expo? Who can I wrangle to dress up with me while the super cosplay duo is across the Pond? My fear of exposure is gone. I’m excited to put together an outfit that reflects my current interests and fandoms, and I really don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about it. I may pick a character with my same body type again, I may not. I perhaps will cosplay as a black female, or maybe not. It really doesn’t matter — I could be a damn My Little Pony, as long as I’m having a good time. The thing is, there are no rules. You don’t have to be skinny, voluptuous, tall, white, asian or a man to cosplay properly. As the video below reminds us, we’re all fans, trying to express ourselves an our passions.
Watch the video below for the “real rules” of cosplay.
Body Friendly and Cross-Race Cosplay sites
xoxo The Collectiva Diva