Cosplay is kind of a spiritual experience
You won’t often hear the words ‘spiritual’ and ‘cosplay’ used in the same sentence – Well, probably not ever actually, unless it’s you’re making No Face from Spirited Away or some such. For me though it really is. I’ve never felt like I was a particularly creative person. I like making things with my hands, and I have a design background (academically speaking) – but for the most part I have a really hard time with creative fashion and clothes in general. Things like make-up and ‘doing your hair’ still seem like special occasion accessories rather than an every day necessity. Being introduced to cosplay was like being invited into Narnia. It’s a whole collection of things I struggle with made accessible and fun in a larger than life kind of way.
Now I won’t lie; The first time I made a costume, with my own two hands and all that, was very trying. It was lots of trail and error and learning from mistakes. (That never really ends, but that’s okay.) I’d never worked without a pattern before and I’d never actually worn a wig, let alone alter one. I can’t remember how may times I’d thought ‘why am I even doing this?!’ only to be reeled by to saneville by one of my cosplay co-conspirators. There was lots of good things about it too though, and that is a huge reason I keep coming back; Bringing a favorite character to life. Learning how to make new things and how to improve old skills. Sitting around a table covered in sewing machines and fabrics, laughing with friends and solving problems – those are some of my best memories. Without a doubt, cosplay brings us closer together, and what’s not to love about that?
While I do enjoy the process (most of the time), I would be lying a little if I said wearing them wasn’t the best part. In the words of Lady Gaga, I live for the applause! (Don’t we all though?) All kidding aside, the very first costume I ever made – Toph Beifong from Avatar the Last Airbender – was something special. I’m not going to tell you it was the best costume ever made or some other similar BS – it was special because of the experience I had while wearing it. Cosplay is pretty much guaranteed to bring you to other fans, new friends, and costume enthusiasts admiration – and it’s all sunshine and rainbows in the sincerest way possible. When I put on Toph, it was almost a surreal experience. Taking pictures, meeting people, trying to walk through a crowd with 97% of my vision obscured by really intense bangs. It was all good fun – for the first three quarters of the day. Then I was sweaty and tried and tried of having my sandaled feet get trampled and really, really hungry ’cause I couldn’t find the food court; I was definitely in the ‘powder walk through the crowd with resting bitch face’ phase of the day.
Then a nice looking, out of breath Hispanic man stopped me, and explained that he’d seen me through
the crowd – his girls were big fans of the show and would love a picture. So we wade back though the throng of people, and the minute these two little girls see us their faces break out into these huge smiles. They looked like they were maybe three and four – they were these tiny little adorable doe eyed creatures who were sincerely overjoyed to meet me. It was probably the single most humbling moment of my life – I’m getting teared up now just thinking about it. Everything that had gone wrong that day, all my aggravation and hangry-ness, just evaporated. I knelled down on the floor for some pictures, let them touch my wig and laugh, and talked to them a little about the show and their favorite characters. The younger one kept asking me where Aang was, which was pretty funny. Their parents eventually rounded them up to leave, and they each gave me a hug and waved goodbye over their shoulders.
Being able to bring that character to life for those girls made that entire trip worth it for me – and that’s the feeling I get every time I put on a costume I’ve made. I keep coming back because being able to brighten someone’s day by doing something I love is a pretty powerful gift.