I’ve been cosplaying for a little over 5 years now, and have received various different questions on the subject. Questions that range from technique of crafting, to dealing with criticism in the community. But, the most consistent question I’ve received is about my growing experience as a cosplayer, and how I have the confidence to keep up and wear certain cosplays.
It’s true, the majority of popular cosplayers you see have an at least near-perfect body. And there’s this outside world perception that they represent every other cosplayer – and we should all strive for the looks and bodies that fictional characters possess. But is this really the case?
Before I put my foot in my mouth let me clarify one thing I have believed in my entire life about cosplay – it’s for you. It’s for me. It’s for the girl being told she needs to eat more or the guy being told he needs to work out more. There is no ideal shape for cosplay, and the fact that many people outside of the community seem to have this perception is growing to be a huge issue.
The reason why I refuse to label cosplay along with modelling is simply because I’ve found it to be an entirely different, much more accepting world. We don’t model for looks and likes on ourselves – we model for the likes on our costumes. Our hard work. For the hope that in impressing ourselves with what we have created – we also have impressed and inspired at least one other person. When I started out, it was for me. Because I sure as hell loved dressing up as my greatest heroes and I knew there would be many more who loved it, too. That’s what kept me going. That’s what kept me honing my skills, learning to sew – learning to craft with foam, worbla, you name it. The creativity in this world of cosplay is amazing and we inspire each other every single second of every single day.
The truth is, once you create something you’re proud of that you can wear on your body or someone else’s – it makes you feel more confident and proud of it. For me, being able to look down at what I’m wearing, and say: “Yeah, I made this” has been the biggest propeller in my self-esteem. In a community where we all realize our strengths and weaknesses – we’re all driven to build each other up on the strengths. Sure, there’s hate every here and there. But there’s even more love. And even more support.
It’s having the honest, most sincere people within your community who know the struggles you face every day – whether it be bullying in school for liking that video game a “little too much,” or not being able to achieve a figure that you desire because it’s simply not your body type – having other people just like yourself facing the same things you do in some way, shape or form… and finding a passion in what they love so deeply that they will work sleepless nights just to get that detail stitching just right – or the curve of that foam piece perfectly even… it’s these people – no, these artists – supporting me, supporting you, who help build our self-esteem.
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