So I’ve been planning out my cosplays for Asylum 16, and have recently been added to a new cosplay group, so I have cosplay on the brain frequently right now. Two of my friends, Vee and Christilynn, who play Alice and Bella respectively at Twilight events in Forks, have both written posts about how your appearance should not affect who you cosplay, or how you feel about your cosplay. Their posts relate to looking like Ashley Greene and Kristen Stewart, when cosplaying Alice or Bella, but the overall message is general – you do not have to look just like a character, in order to cosplay said character.
To read Christilynn’s post, click here.
To read Vee’s post, click here.
The Olympic Coven, Vee in particular, as well as the UK Cullen cosplayers, were very influential to me in developing my initial cosplays. I went to them for help, I would show them my cosplays, they would always give me advice. I remember coming across Vee’s blog and sending her a nervous email, sending her photos of my Alice cosplays and asking for help with my dream cosplay at the time, Alice’s baseball costume. To be honest, I don’t think I would have ever made that baseball costume had I not asked her for advice. It seemed so daunting and terrifying, but she actually reassured me and said it just looks complex because it’s got a lot of pieces to get together. Even if I’ve grown out of Twilight now, I’ll always be grateful to Vee and my Twilight cosplayer family, they helped a little 14-17 year old cosplayer achieve her dreams of cosplaying Alice, and being happy with it.
The pictures above are from my trip to Stephenie Meyer Day in 2013, an event in Forks celebrating Twilight. It was an amazing place, everyone was so welcoming! If I had the money I’d carry on going to the Twilight events, I miss it so much! I may do a post about it in future.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who think they can’t cosplay a certain character because they don’t look like them, they feel they’re the wrong body shape, they generally feel they wouldn’t look “right” as a character. I hate that people feel this way, it can be a result of some cosplayers expressing their view that cosplay has to be completely accurate, physical resemblance included. Now, everyone has their own view of cosplay, but I don’t think that this means one should press their views on everyone and put people off such a great hobby. So I wanted to talk about my personal definition of cosplay.
Cosplay IS NOT:
- Exclusive to those who can sew: It can be off-putting seeing cosplayers who make all their costumes, and make them to an extremely high level. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cosplay too if you’re not so skilled with a sewing machine. There are plenty of amazing costumes available to buy online (although caution is advised with some listings, as there are many cases of stolen photos that don’t reflect the item you’ll receive), you can commission someone to make you a costume. Some do hold the view that real cosplayers make their own costumes, but that’s just a load of bull. Not everyone wants to make their own costume, not everyone feels they can. I definitely recommend giving it a go if you want to try, you might surprise yourself! But if you’d rather get a costume made, then that’s cool too. Who made the costume doesn’t reflect badly on you as a cosplayer.
- Bound to physical appearance: As I mentioned, and as Vee and Christilynn wrote so well in their posts, you don’t have to look like a character, to cosplay a character. This includes body shape, race, facial features. You can cosplay anyone you want, and y’know what? You’re going to rock it. I don’t look anything like Jared Padalecki, I’m over a foot shorter than him, I have no muscle compared to him, but does that stop me cosplaying Sam Winchester? Nope! I even got told one time that I couldn’t cosplay Sam, or couldn’t “pull off” Sam for that exact reason. I was too short, too feminine. That was three years ago now, and I’m still cosplaying. The great thing about cosplay is that you can be literally anyone, it’s sad that people do judge whether someone “can” cosplay someone, it’s sad that people say someone has the wrong skin colour, body shape, or anything to be a particular character. Who are they to decide? Only you can decide if you can cosplay someone. And I know you’ll look amazing.
- All about accuracy: That’s not to say it can’t be, but it’s not the most important part of this hobby. If you want to make a perfect, 100% accurate costume, then go for it, but someone else shouldn’t be shamed for a close but not exact, or a more inspired-by costume. It can be difficult to achieve accuracy in cosplay, and it can be a lot of hard work, so pointing out flaws can be very frustrating and upsetting after hours of slaving away at it. I tend to point out the flaws in my costume, just to get them out of the way. Hopefully that way people won’t point them out. Is that stupid? Probably. Perfectionism in cosplay can be bittersweet. While it means you might strive for a super-accurate cosplay, it can be even more upsetting if it doesn’t turn out how you want. Especially if you’re a beginner cosplayer, it’s hard to get it right the first time, but don’t be disheartened. If you practise, or just try again, it might turn out better. But don’t feel obliged to be perfect, all cosplay is great no matter the skill level.
- A competition: There are cosplay contests, but that doesn’t mean the entire world of cosplay is one big huge competition. Some do strive to win these competitions, I personally don’t. I already have issues with comparing myself and entering a contest, I feel wouldn’t help me very much. If someone cosplays the same as you, don’t feel threatened or inferior. You’re both, at the end of the day, just showing your love for the same character. Instead, embrace it. Maybe you’ll make a friend at the end of it (if they’re not your friend already!). 🙂
The sad thing is that not everyone is so welcoming in the world of cosplay. Some people will treat cosplay like a contest. Some will purposely try and one-up others, I’ve known some to bad-mouth other cosplayers. I’ve known some friends to fall out over cosplaying the same character. It’s sad, but thankfully not too common. All I can say is, don’t be a jerk. If someone is cosplaying the same as you, don’t do everything in your power to be “better”. Support them, encourage them, and they’ll do the same.
- Necessarily a Profession: This point isn’t directly related to cosplay, but recently there appears to have been an influx of cosplayers, especially those who cosplay popular children’s characters such as Disney Princesses, who feel they can perform at children’s parties. Now, I’m not saying this should stop, because I know many people who do this and are absolutely incredible at what they do and portray their characters wonderfully as well as being great with kids. But there have been cases of cosplayers without much experience setting up party companies which may not be the best move. I’m a firm believer in “costume does not mean entertainer”, essentially meaning that putting on a costume is not enough to warrant one as party entertainer being paid to appear and perform. I, for example, wouldn’t do this, because while I have improved at staying in character, especially when I’m Merida, I don’t have the confidence interacting with children and can get very self-conscious, so I don’t feel in the slightest that I would be of a good enough quality to be paid. The majority of cosplayers don’t go down this route and stick to conventions, I just thought it was worth mentioning.
- Fun: Kind of an obvious point, but it is so fun getting to be your favourite character for a little while. You can escape the “normal” world and just enjoy being someone else. Just remember to go back to being you afterwards.
- Different for everyone: Like I said before, everyone sees cosplay differently. Some do see cosplay as making accurate costumes, some do see that only homemade cosplays count. They’re not views I agree with, but that’s their personal opinion. It’s important to understand that how you view cosplay won’t be how everyone else views it. Just be considerate of others and you’re golden – there’s no need to shame people because their cosplay is against your personal view.
- Rewarding: So much opportunity can be found through cosplay. Whether it’s taking part in cosplay videos, group photoshoots or making friends, cosplay brings great benefits and rewards. It might even boost your confidence too! It’s always amazing walking around a convention in a cosplay and being complimented on you, and just as much when people ask for a picture with or of you! I remember cosplaying Castiel at MCM Birmingham Comic Con in 2014 and a girl ran up to me asking for a hug, it was so sweet! When I was Merida at MCM London in May 2015, I turned around to see a little girl just waving at me, a slight starstrucked expression on her face. I did mention earlier that I’m not that confident interacting with kids, but I waved back and gave her a high five. A lot of kids noticed me that day, and I smiled and waved. I wish I’d had the confidence to go up to them and talk to them in character, but at least I acknowledged them and gave them a wave, it’s the least I could do. But it was so nice thinking I could have made a kid’s day. I also hugged a little girl at Collectormania last year, as Elsa, who was getting scared by the crowds, her mum said I was probably the nicest person I’d seen all day!
- An opportunity to try new things and step out of the comfort zone: If you haven’t sewn before, like I hadn’t before cosplay, it’s a great challenge and really exciting. The first piece I made myself was actually Alice’s bridesmaid dress from Breaking Dawn. It didn’t turn out too bad, but the issue was I got a little too confident and altered the pattern way too much to the extent it was almost unwearable. That sounds worse than it is, in actuality I just altered the shoulder straps so much that they were then too wide to sit on my shoulders. But I learned from my mistakes – I’d made a mock up of that dress but I ended up altering the actual dress, rookie mistake #1. So from now on, if I make a mock up (which I mostly do anyway), I make sure to make any and all alterations then.
Trying out sewing for the first time can be a little daunting but if you start off using patterns and following the instructions, you’ll get on great. Don’t expect your first pieces to be completely perfect, they might not be. They might be even better than you hoped, which is great! But always be prepared for the chance of things not going to plan.
Some cosplays might be a big step for you to even wear. Codex is the best example for me. Most cosplays I’m quite comfortable in, but Codex is a little revealing. Very short skirts, the top is made with a bra sewn to a tank top, so it’s extremely low cut. But it turned out fine and people loved it!
- For everyone: No matter who you are, YOU CAN COSPLAY. Who cares what others think? If you want to be a Disney princess, you go be a Disney princess, you’re going to look magical. If you want to crossplay, go for it! It doesn’t matter if like me you lack the physique of the character you want to be, it’s cosplay! It really doesn’t matter. It’s perfectly okay to cosplay someone of a different race or skin colour to you too, you’ll look amazing and you’re showing how much you think this character rocks. And you rock too. If you think you’re not the right size to cosplay someone, cosplay them anyway! Cosplay for me is about showing your appreciation for a character, and that has no right body type. People can and do have a bad attitude about all of this, but unfortunately it just comes with cosplay. There will always be at least one who wants to put people down for doing what thy love. My only advice is to ignore them and focus on the positives. Have fun!
I personally feel cosplay is more about showing the world how much you love a character, or just their costume, than it is about appearance and looking just like a character. If you feel different, then that’s okay too. Cosplay is different for everyone!
Thanks for reading, guys, I hope you enjoyed seeing my standpoint.
Your Pal, Mini Moose ❤