What is Cosplay to Me?
So what exactly is cosplay? Is it a hobby for some people so obsessed with 2D characters that they want to embody them in real life? Some people, sure, but not all cosplayers are the same. Some like to dress up on occasion, some do it for fun, some do it to make friends, and some cosplay out of curiosity. For me though, I like to do it to have fun and to make friends. You might think that people dressed up can't make friends and expect that people will stay away from such people, but that is not the case! I have never had more random people come talk to me and ask for pictures than ever before.
My Experience in Cosplay
I usually go to anime/gaming conventions in cosplay and there it is more unusual to be out of cosplay, since about 90% of the attendees are in cosplay themselves. It is pretty rare to find people out of cosplay at these sort of conventions. It's quite unfair that there is stigma surrounding cosplay and cosplayers just because a few out of thousands are indeed quite weird. Personally I think that creepy people who think about or partake in weird/illegal activities should be the ones responsible, not the cosplayers who were the victim. For example, a cosplayer was fondled or touched inappropriately because the character she was cosplaying was wearing revealing clothing. It is the fault of the assulters, not the cosplayer. They may argue that "she was asking for it", but that is not the case. Who in the right mind sees a female cosplayer and immediately assumes they are asking for it? Because of traumatic events like this, I usually do not dress up as female characters.
Yes, I do dress up as male characters because I feel more comfortable and safe. However, this does not mean that I am transgender. Many cosplayers go by they/them because it is a hassle when people say you can't dress up as a female when you are male and the other way around. It's not that I'm uncomfortable in my own body, I just feel uncomfortable because female cosplayers are sexualized and are preyed on. Especially at conventions, my cousins have always warned me to not get kidnapped and small, female cosplayers are the ones who are kidnapped the most. However, I have gotten over some of the fear and I was able to cosplay as a female character for the first time in a while this year. If you do go, make sure you go with friends and stay closely connected to your friend group.
The Two Types of Cosplayers
To me, there are two types of cosplayers. Of course there is the toxic and friendly community, but I'm not going to go into that since I'm not familiar with that side of cosplay. There are so many catagories to divide cosplayers up in, but I think this is the most common. There are those who make their own cosplay and there are those who buy their cosplay. Neither one is better than the other, and both are quite admirable in itself. For those who cannot sew, buying cosplay is their only option. I admire those who make their own cosplay, since I know how hard it is because I have made my own before. It is definitely a struggle that I will try again one day, but buying cosplay is definitely easier. It just makes your wallet cry every now and then. So why do we cosplayers struggle through all these things... making our wallet cry and being worried about being kidnapped? For me, it's the joy that I can bring to other people. When people see their favorite characters in real life, their whole face lights up. When I came to school in Todoroki cosplay, ignoring the people who made fun of me, I remember there was this one girl who asked for a hug since the character I was cosplaying was her favorite character. I'm glad I could make her day brighter in the dim, gloomy, prison we call school.
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