Cosplay Experience: Past, Present and Future

Chan’s post about cosplay etiquette and behavior caught my attention, and it prompted me to start thinking about some of my cosplay experiences. I haven’t been doing it as long as she has, but it’s been a good..ten or so years, at this point, on and off. And believe me when I say I’ve learned a lot, both good and bad. But that’s a part of any hobby or any pastime, what you learn from it and where all that learning takes you.

When I first started out, it was with one costume per convention. And that one costume was something pieced together over the course of nine months to a year, so it became something pretty personal. Now, I don’t do any kind of sewing at all. Most of my current costumes (ex: Amy Pond from Doctor Who, my primary character to costume) involve tracking down pieces that have been identified as the ones the actress wears in the show, then watching the outfit come together. And I like that process. I like it a lot. It’s rewarding and fulfilling, and I love when I’m able to, for the first time, put everything on and look in the mirror. I’ll never be as tall and leggy as Karen Gillan, but it’s so great to see the outfit and know that I feel good when I’m in it.

Needless to say, I cosplay for the fun of it. I don’t enter into masquerades or anything like that because I don’t feel that I’ve got the right to. I didn’t make anything, I didn’t create it or spend hours up with a sewing machine piecing things together. I’m just in this for fun. For awhile, I had the fun by myself, and then I realized how many like-minded people were out there. (How do you think I met Chan?) From there, my circle of friends grew.

And to be honest, it wasn’t something I expected. I didn’t think choosing to dress up as a fictional character would ever bring me closer to other people. I thought it was a sure fire way to label yourself an outcast and cross your name off of every list to any kind of social event from now until the edge of eternity. Little did I know just how many doors it would open for me.

So, go figure on the irony of that situation. But that’s part of the fun of being involved in nerd or geek (or whatever you want to call it) culture. There’s a comfort in knowing you’ll just be accepted, whatever you end up choosing to do. Want to paint yourself blue? Go for it! I’ll help with the air compressor. Want to spend your entire paycheck on a pair of Italian leather boots just because they appeared in two episodes of your favorite show? It’s your money, spend it how you will. There’s a universal acceptance when it comes to this kind of pastime, and I like it.

Don’t get me wrong – there will always be the bad with the good. And I’ve seen my share of bad, but I like to take it in stride now. Little by little, you grow up – and the pastime grows with you.

From A-kon 22, our Doctor Who photo shoot. (I’m the Amy Pond towards the front, in the red plaid.)

So as far as cosplay advice from this damsel? I’ll offer a few tips.

  • If you’ve got it? Flaunt it. And that doesn’t have to go solely for the physical, either. Proud of your hair? Then work it up with a great leave-in conditioner and a blowdry before heading out for photos. Have a great smile? Use it!
  • Carrying some extra weight =/= a reason to refrain from cosplay. It took me awhile to get to this point, but the truth is – who cares? Really, who cares? Catty comments about someone’s weight are one of the most ridiculous things to exist. Wear what you want, and if you’re having a good time then it’s no one else’s business but yours. Chances are you won’t be cosplaying alone – you’ll have your friends with you. And if that’s the case, they’ll support you. Wear what you want – rather, wear what you love – and enjoy every second of it. Take a million pictures, have your friends take a million and one. Make it your day to be a star.
  • Cost is irrelevant. Spend as much or as little as you want. We all have different lifestyles and different incomes, so work with what you have. Don’t be afraid of having to costume on a budget, or of going out and buying the more costly pieces that you very much want. Work with what you have, and have a blast doing it. I’m not advising you put yourself in debt, though – manage your finances, you know your limits.
  • Take pictures! And I’m talking copious amounts of pictures. Take them however you want – camera phone, digital camera, telephoto lens – again, work with what you’ve got. If you’re feeling inspired, arrange photoshoots with your friends. It’s a great way to have some fun and nerd out. (I love to nerd out. Can’t you tell?)

But most importantly of all? Have fun.

‘Til next time,

Damsel Nikki

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