The Creative World Of Cosplay: Why I’ll Always Admire Cosplay From Afar But Won’t Ever Participate In It

A few weekends ago, I went with a bunch of friends to a Renaissance Fair in upstate New York. It was my first time attending such an event and it was exactly how I’d expect it to be––jousts, archery, knights, pages, and lovely maidens dressed in their afternoon best. I was completely transported to another time and another world. While the workers running the fair naturally have to dress and act the part, many attendees are just as welcome to dress up and join in on the fun.

Many of the costumes I saw were impressive, even if most were bought from someplace else. Others just used what they had to create a modern day reinterpretation of what it was to live in that time period. As giddy as it made me feel to feast my eyes on all the amazing costumes I saw both men and women wear, and often finding myself daydreaming about wearing what other women were brave and creative enough to wear, I wouldn’t dare venture into cosplaying myself.

Cosplay, short for costume play, is the type of dress up you often find in places like geek/nerd conventions or a medieval fair. These places are the only time, aside from Halloween, where you can put your best face forward and dress up as whatever character you wish. Going to Comic Con may have you dressing up like Batman or Wonder Woman, or going to a video game convention may have you practicing your best Chun-Li pose or walking around as Solid Snake to do your best hiding in a box impersonation with an actual cardboard box. Sometimes, you may see a blending of comic book and anime characters co-existing together and walking side-by-side on convention floors. Whatever your character of choice may be, the possibilities are endless. After attending conventions like New York Comic and PAX East, I tend to notice common traits about cosplayers: creativity and passion.

Cosplays can be as simple as what my friend did for his at a New York Comic Con last year when he dressed up as a character from the video game Hotline Miami.
Cosplays can be as simple as what my friend did for his at a New York Comic Con last year when he dressed up as a character from the video game Hotline Miami.

Cosplayers, whether they’re the professional kind or not, take great pride in the costumes they make. This requires a wealth of creativity, basic sewing skills, or knowing how to find the right pieces and being able to put them together seamlessly. How much time they spend on their costume depends on their budget and the level of commitment they have to make their look really memorable by the time convention day rolls around. Doing a really good cosplay is an art in and of itself. The right fabric and prop is crucial to make the whole outfit come together as you envisioned it.

Passion is the other key to cosplaying. You have to love doing it and you have to be comfortable enough having all eyes on you for a day or weekend. It’s obvious from the start that the ones who attend any event that allows you to dress up, tend to be really excited to show off their creations and pretend to be their favorite character. Cosplayers get really into it and there’s no doubt in your mind that they’re having fun. Part of dressing up at conventions means you’ll be the center of attention. Swarms of fellow attendees will ogle and admire the cosplays they like the best and even politely ask those cosplayers if they can take a picture of them. Most cosplayers are only too happy to oblige by the request and some will even ham it up for the cameras. You have to enjoy the attention if you decide to cosplay. It’s kind of like being a moving piece of art for the day––you’ll have many eyes on you and many will want your picture. Cosplay isn’t for those who are camera shy or don’t like being approached by random strangers.

I have an immense amount of appreciation and respect for those who cosplay because I personally don’t have the same level of dedication or creativity to pull one off. I can’t sew and running around to find the right hat or shirt to do an easier cosplay is too much work for me. While I did love dressing up for Halloween as a kid, finding the motivation to dress up now is hard. I’m also the type of person who doesn’t like drawing attention to herself. Having so many eyes on me makes me feel shy, uncomfortable, and self-conscious. I think to be able to cosplay requires a ton of confidence and bravery to carry your costume well. If you don’t have that, well, I doubt you’ll feel like you’re having fun at all. And isn’t that the point of cosplaying? To have fun and show off your amazing creation?

Whether your cosplay is an exact copy of Xena's iconic outfit or a close enough version of it, creativity and fun is the whole point of cosplay.
Whether your cosplay is an exact copy of Xena’s iconic outfit or a close enough version of it, creativity and fun is the whole point of cosplay.

Conventions or even a Renaissance Fair are the best places to dress up, pretend to be someone else for a day, and not feel like a complete weirdo while doing it. Cosplayers get to enjoy what they’ve made and have other people appreciate their hard work and effort. They have a lot to be proud of when plenty of people compliment and take photos of their work. It’s the one opportunity to have their moment and shine, and I’ll be one of those attendees who will have nothing but admiration for what they created.

8 thoughts on “The Creative World Of Cosplay: Why I’ll Always Admire Cosplay From Afar But Won’t Ever Participate In It

  1. I think my thoughts regarding cosplay echo yours a bit. It’s always so cool to see someone’s Halo armor or Dragon Age costume, and for a moment I’ll think about doing one myself before coming back to reality. If I were to do it, I would want to do it right (meaning as close as possible) or not do it at all. Creating a great cosplay take effort, practice, and experience though, none of which I’m willing to put into it. That and I think I’d wind up being too self-conscious to actually wear it. 😀

    1. Yeah, I completely agree! 🙂 I get really excited when I recognize my favorite video game, comic, or anime characters. Especially if the costumes are fantastic! It really does take a whole lot of love and dedication to want to cosplay year after year. It may look easy, but I think for the most part it’s a ton of work. Fun, but only if you’re willing to invest the time for a one day or weekend type of event.

  2. Great post! Cosplaying can also be an incredible confidence boost for shy people. I know of quite a few cosplayers (and I’m one of them) who find that the mask/helmet/wig whatever gives them the confidence to initiate conversations and to do things that they’d just never feel comfortable doing ordinarily. It’s a chance to become a whole different person for the day and it’s amazing what a difference that can make!

    1. I can definitely see that. Cosplay, for a shy person who loves to dress up, is an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and really transform and become the character you dress as. I’m sure if you do it enough, you’ll probably won’t be as shy or self-conscious anymore, and that will definitely come in handy in real life social situations!

  3. I’m definitely like you in not really wanting to devote the time to creating an elaborate costume. I’m shy too, and while I don’t mind people noticing a costume I’m wearing, I get really shy if they ask to take a picture with me or something. And I’m just talking about at Halloween, when everybody else is dressed up too!

    I might want to try cosplay someday, but for the most part I agree that it’s just fun to see other people’s outfits and spot familiar characters. =)

    1. It’s one of the reasons why I like attending conventions year after year. I love seeing what people come up with for their costumes. If there’s a cosplay I really like, I always go up to the person and ask to snap their photo. I personally come out terrible in most photos taken of me and I’d hate to be cosplaying, take a photo, and the photo comes out really bad or painfully awkward. Even if my cosplay is awesome! Nope, I’m perfectly fine being the spectator in all of this. 😉

  4. I’ve only cosplayed once, but I really enjoyed it. I wish I could do it again but well I’m not exactly all that good at sewing and the time and money required to invest in a good cosplay is really the biggest barrier for me. I personally enjoy the role-playing. It’s especially fun if you can get your friends to do other characters from the same series and do mini impromptu scenarios. Or walk around acting like your characters in everyday situations. Being alone is definitely tougher since you can’t rely on mutual excitement and energy to keep the “in character” act going. It also makes all the attention harder to manage as you are singled out by yourself. I don’t think I’d ever do it alone, but it’s definitely a ton of fun with friends.

    1. I really admire the cosplayers who go it alone around the convention floor. As I’ve said, you really have to be comfortable having a ton of eyeballs on you. In fact, you have to love being in the spotlight all day long.

      I think if I ever change my mind about cosplaying, I’d definitely want to do it with a group of friends. I agree that it’s definitely a lot easier to get into and not feel self-conscious when you have so many of your friends participating along with you. 🙂

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