The Perks of Being a Cosplayer

As a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer. It wasn’t about the fame – my name on thousands of garments and stars in my contact list. It was always about the clothes. My obsession with science fiction and fantasy morphed my love of fashion into one of costume design. So what does this have to do with cosplay? For me, cosplay has always been more about the ‘cos’ part. I love what costumes tell about a character. I love the mix of interesting fabrics and non-traditional materials. If you have an hour or, most likely, an afternoon free, I can talk your ear off about this.

My first time cosplaying was at Anime Weekend Atlanta. I would post a picture but this was back before digital cameras were everywhere and I don’t know where any of the physical copies are. I dressed as Sakura in her school uniform from Cardcaptor Sakura on Friday and Zechs Merquise, complete with helmet, from Gundam Wing on Saturday. This marked one of the few times that I practiced action poses and phrases. I went in with that wide-eyed optimism that comes from naively expecting nerd culture to be an accepting one. That’s not to say the entire weekend was a wash. Though I did find out that people are going to have a problem with a Black, fat girl cosplaying a ‘white’, skinny man or pretty much any non-black character, I also found that most of them were too cowardly to say something to my face. It’s easier to be an asshole when you’re hiding behind computer screens.

Unfortunately, having what fandom considers a non-traditional body, whether you’re a person of color, plus-sized, and/or have a disability, means that trolls are going to feel like it’s their right to point out how much you don’t fit the role. This is what makes it that much more amazing when you see us cosplaying. To use a phrase from Bitch Planet, we’re being non-compliant. We’re ignoring all of those comments that boil down to ’no, this isn’t for you. You don’t belong here’. We’re looking good and having a great time while doing it. So when those comments get you down, remember you’re awesome. Going through #29DaysofBlackCosplay, a hashtag created by Chaka Cumberbatch, or seeing a group of plus-sized Sailor Scouts or a kid who turned his wheelchair into a TIE fighter are all the inspiration I need to silence the jerks who are determined to kill someone else’s fun. I cosplay for me, because I love the character and because I love the costume.

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I had a thankfully brief obsession with using duct tape as material.

Now that you’ve heard all about my first experience and why I like it, some of our listeners were nice enough to share pictures and talk about why they like doing it.

For more inspiration, check out PrettyBrown&Nerdy‘s 29 Black Characters to Cosplay video featuring the amazing Chaka:

Just had to add one more thing to this already long post. Recently, Wizard World was held in Portland. This has got to be my favorite cosplay from the con. The rest of the 2016 cons are going to have to work pretty hard to surpass this.

Mel

Author: nerdsofpreypodcast@gmail.com

Meet Shannon, Cam, Lauren, and Mel, four Black women who love comics, video games, superheroes, and all things nerdy. Pull up a seat as four friends discuss the latest nerd news from their varying perspectives.

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