How Cosplay Changed My Life

I grew up an overweight girl who hated her body and didn’t understand why she was different. I was too loud, too passionate, too enthusiastic, too quirky. If there was a character I loved, I couldn’t express my affection without seeming obsessed or strange. It's hard always feeling like the odd one out. And I felt that way for a while, until one day my friend Cal introduced me to cosplay.

Suddenly I was surrounded by wigs, makeup and costumes. I’d never experienced such a thing. Cal told me there was a whole world of people who were just as passionate as me when it came to stories, and that I wasn’t alone. People in this community didn’t care about what size others were, how much they liked their favorite show, or how outgoing they were. This community was somewhere I could belong. Cal showed me his favorite looks and introduced me to some of his cosplay friends and, in no time at all, I signed up to go to my first convention and started designing my first cosplay.

My first cosplay was a “closet cosplay,” which is a costume entirely made of clothing you already own and is meant to portray the idea of a character without being perfectly accurate. I was Finn the Human, from Adventure Time - so basically a blue T-shirt, a denim skirt and his iconic hat. It wasn’t the most difficult costume to make, but since then, I’ve cosplayed over 15 different characters. I tried out body paint with my costume of Undyne, tried drag for the first time with Evan Hansen, and went out of my comfort zone by showing my stomach in my Mystery Girl outfit. My absolute favorite is my Tow Mater because it’s absolutely ridiculous being a human car. My body has changed since I first joined this community, but what’s changed more is my view of myself. Dressing up as characters who inspire me helps me feel like I can take on the world. It’s absolutely thrilling.

Don’t get me wrong, this was all fun but it was hard, too. At first, I felt overwhelmed seeing all of the glamorous and intensely detailed outfits around me. I felt subpar. Everyone seemed so much better than me. But I slowly started learning. I watched makeup tutorials, became friends with other cosplayers in my area and before I knew it, I had an Instagram account with almost 250 followers! I have friends all over the country who love and support me, and I never would have met them if it wasn’t for this quirky pastime.

I've learned that the most import rule of cosplay is that you should never compare yourself to someone else. Cosplay is a personal journey of discovering what you’re good at, what you might need to work on, and what works for you. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and we’re all working on improving and becoming the best we can be - and that’s something that goes beyond cosplay.