Cosplay is the art of dressing up like a fictional character, typically practiced at anime or comic book conventions. It’s a lovely hobby of mine that I’ve been thoroughly involved in for the past two years. Although that is a fairly short amount of time, I’ve come to find that I’ve learned far more in those two years than I’d ever expected.
Allow me to explain…
When I found out about cosplay, I was thrilled to know I could put on a costume outside of the month of October. My first official cosplay was my childhood heroine– Lara Croft. She is somebody I’ve looked up to my entire life. Heroes don’t have to be nonfictional to be real. Growing up, she was one of the only standalone female characters in the video game world. I saw Lara as everything I wanted to be: independent, self-sufficient, strong, adventurous, beautiful, and confident. She trained me to be an adept explorer; Lara was my escape from reality.
I spent a lot of time into putting together my best adaptation of Lara Croft. My goal with every costume is to do that character justice, however different my interpretation may be. With the Tomb Raider specifically, I wanted to make accuracy a priority. Upon completion, I was so proud of myself and was so ready to become my own hero. When I took photos in said costume, I wanted to capture her essence. When I went to Salt Lake Comic Con in said costume, I wanted to absorb the qualities I spent my childhood admiring.
The more I wore the costume, the more she became more than just a character, more than an alter ego. She’s become a part of me; the part I’m most proud of. She’s become my confidence, the person I turn to when I need a little more sass. She brought out qualities in myself I had all along. And that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from cosplay.
With any character I’ve bonded with, I walk around with that much more spunk in my step, that much more happiness. I’ve learned to accept myself, improve myself, and be proud of myself– and I’m better for it. Each one I choose to portray has qualities and traits I respect and admire, and I like to carry those with me.
Cosplay is a hobby, first and foremost. I do it because I love it. I do it because it’s fun for me. But I’ve been able to turn to it as an outlet as well. Whether I’m feeling down or simply creative, I start to work the cosplay magic. I go hunting for inspiration and find myself being both productive and happy. I’ve been able to use cosplay as a tool– to learn, to expand my horizons, and even find work as a model. Learning might just be my favorite part of this entire realm. I’ve acquired a wide range of techniques in craftsmanship, I’ve been able to teach others and be taught by others. I study characters to gain knowledge of their backgrounds and characteristics to improve my overall presentation and representation of them. It’s a constant learning process and I’ve seen consistent progression in my skill set. I’ve had the opportunity to delve into the business side of cosplay and conventions, as well as make friends through it.
When discussing what cosplay means to me, it’s more a matter of how much. It’s given me something I never fully understood how to give to myself. I’ve found something that actively challenges my mind and allows me to embrace who I am as a person. Cosplay knows nothing of instant gratification. It’s hard work full of blood, sweat, and tears. You really put in time and dedication and the end result is definitely rewarding, but not instantaneous. So it’s very cool that I’ve gained something so incredibly worthwhile from it, and it really keeps me coming back.
COSPLAY IS COOL, MAN.