“Why do you cosplay?”- A collection of answers

During the course of the last several months I featured 40 cosplayers here on my blog, and I had an interview of each one. They were asked during this interview the following:

“Why do you cosplay? Why do you keep coming back to it?”

“Has cosplaying presented you with challenges?”

“Have you ever-experienced harassment or bullying while cosplaying?”

This is some of the answers these cosers gave, and it is my hope in reading them you are both inspired by their answers and that you pause for a moment to consider the question for yourself. Why do you cosplay?


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Photographer Credit: Twisted Focus Photography

“Every time I meet a fellow fan or I get to help a cosplayer with advice on how to make what I made, it reminds me why I do this. I want to continue cosplaying and meeting new friends and sharing my craft.” -Coser Steampunk Succubus

The passion to help others, to learn new things is at the very heart of cosplay. We want to learn new things, and with cosplay you have so many new things to learn! Most of us go on to become the ‘teachers’ of the next generation of cosplayers, and we are happy to share our skills and knowledge.

 

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Photographer Credit: IMZmodelzone photography. Taken by Kevin Vaughn

“It gives me the opportunity to be myself and to also make someone smile and laugh and it gives a sense of purpose to keep striving for bigger and better things and to never give up.” -Coser Johnny Arrow

A lot of cosplayers I interviewed spoke how cosplay has helped them to be themselves, and how it gives them a sense of purpose. As I have said and will continue to tell you guys please know you ARE IMPORTANT!

 

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Photo by z_cosplay_inc

“I cosplay because it provides an escape for me. Sometimes I feel too overwhelmed with life and all my responsibilities and all the things I have get accomplished. So cosplay lets me be somebody else for a short time and get away from B.S in my own life.” -Coser Z Cosplay Inc

It not only helps give a sense of purpose, but it also allows the person to ‘escape’ for a day or a weekend. Like a vacation, we all need an escape from the normal day-to-day life. Cosplaying can provide that.

 

fb_img_1486516681785“I cosplay because it’s an outlet for me to express myself in a way that I can’t do normally. I live in a small town that is very demure and not very exciting. It’s a not a town that really encourages individuality or creativity.

I enjoy cosplay because it allows me to live vicariously through these characters that have such exciting lives or life changing destinies. Cosplay gives me a gratification that I can’t get out of day to day life. It also makes me happy to find people who see me and are excited to see their favorite character brought to life.” -Coser Rocha Kuuno

Cosplay allows us to express ourselves in a variety of ways, from the costumes and art we create to the personalities we may take on through in character role-playing. So many people get a joy in seeing their favorite characters brought to life, and that joy is very hard to express in words. When you see it, you’ll understand.

But cosplay also presents some challenges to the cosplayer. Most of these challenges are more inward (self-doubt, insecurity) while other challenges are outward (perfecting the craft). The cosplayers I interviewed talked about some of these challenges.

“Has cosplaying presented you with challenges?”

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Photo Credit: Nlightened Designs

“I think for a while i was really challenged because i felt i was not good enough to cosplay. So i would see these amazing cosplayers guesting or doing panels and i just couldn’t see myself ever being that good so for a while a lot of the cosplays i made i really hated because i felt they weren’t good enough.

It was really hard to over come that bump of feeling like i wasn’t good enough. But i am happy to say that in the last 2 years i have really had a bump of confidence in my work and i have ran several panels, cosplayed with groups and i have even started trying to guest.” -Coser Cos_elle

 

Often times we feel intimidated by others, this is true both in cosplay and out. The challenge of overcoming this can be rough, but when you stop comparing yourself and feeling intimidated by others amazing things can happen!

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Photographer: Tokyo Studio

“I was very shy and cosplay has helped me develop more contacts with others. Now I just want to learn how to dance to be more nimble on stage.” -Coser Eru.Cosplay

For a lot of people social anxiety or being socially awkward can be HUGE challenges when it comes to cosplay! Depending on the event you may be around a lot of people, and the thought of interacting with them is enough to cause anyone’s chest to tense up.

Like it or not cosplaying will bring you attention, and for someone who doesn’t like being the ‘highlight of the party’ this can be hard to take in. But the beauty is cosplay can help you overcome some social boundaries you may have. It can help you to interact with others, to make friends, and to help tame that ‘shy beast’.

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Photo credit: Nick O. (no pages), Edits by Arlena Fae Photography

“One of the challenges cosplay creates for me is in creating a cosplay. It’s a lot of trying to figure out how to pattern and build oddly shaped pieces or really intricate costumes.

I’m a fairly shy and anxious person, so going out in cosplay in public (especially when it’s not at a convention) is quite difficult for me. A recent example would be with my Li Ming photoshoot. I took the photos at the Palace of Fine Arts which is a popular tourist spot here in SF. I chose to shoot early in the morning to beat the crowd (which helped—a lot less people were there than normal) and probably panicked and debated not doing it the entire drive/days leading up to the shoot.

I sat in the car for quite some time before my friend got me out and hid behind them (or tried to—a bulky costume is hard to make go unnoticed) when walking to the spot where we took photos. I guess when it comes to public photoshoot, it really just depends. I’ve had times (like for Li-Ming) where I’ve been able to do it and other times where I canceled because it was too overwhelming.” -Coser Arlena Fae

And an important thing to remember is everyone has different challenges when it comes to cosplay, and that’s okay. It’s okay to learn how to overcome or cope with challenges, and there is no timer saying you only have so long to learn. It’s also okay to take a break.

Not only are you able to see different reasons why cosers cosplay, but you are seeing some of the challenges they face with this hobby.

One of the most talked about issues today in the community is ‘bullying’, and as high-school as it sounds know this: even grown adults bully others, it’s not just the young. And for those that don’t think this is an issue please allow these few cosers comments during my interviews to enlighten you.

“Have you ever-experienced harassment or bullying while cosplaying?”

unnamed (3)“I’ve had a couple of less than friendly conversations online with people over my cosplays. One was with a cosplay page that had an issue with my choice of wigs, I’d never interacted with this page before they just came out of nowhere and started slamming my wigs for being low quality – based off a stock photo I posted of a wig I’d just bought. I’m all for constructive criticism but slamming someone’s costume choice based off the stock photo a seller has provided seems a little odd.

I later found out this page had been harassing quite a few cosplayers for silly reasons, one girl told me they bombarded her with hateful comments because they hated the fact she had short hair.” -Coser Carefulwiththatdragon

Cosplay bullying is not just an ‘offline’ thing. Cosers experience this sort of harassment and bullying online all the time.

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Photographer Credit: Artisicaise Cosplay Photography

“Let me count the times. I’ve been told I was too short to cosplay this, too tall to cosplay that, ‘You know this character is a guy, right?’. I’ve had people tell me they hated me to my face because of the character I was cosplaying. I’m also had people tell me they would to perverse things to me because of the character I was cosplaying – again to my face.

I was also harassed online after my photographer posted pictures of my Hatsune Miku – World’s End Dancehall cosplay for the first time. A commenter saying that the dress ‘wasn’t modest enough’ and I was ‘showing too much skin’ simply because the dress shows a little more leg than most (because of the side slit).  My photographer tried to explain that the dress was not made for them but for me and I try to be as accurate as I can be with the things I make, which turned into an all out war of how I’m a horrible person. I was told I needed ‘cover up’ and it was ‘ too sexual’.” -Coser Kamuiyamato

At this point you might be saying ‘but this is just harassment online’, and this is true, but that doesn’t make it suddenly okay. To tell someone they are too short/fat/ugly to cosplay a character is NEVER okay. And to shame people for what they wear…I don’t play that game guys, so don’t get me started!

Your words CAN hurt people!

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[Azura] taken and edit by Happy Pause Photography
“Yes. I sadly have experienced harassment. I do not know if it was cosplayers or normies. It was cyber bullying actually. I had just started out it was my first cosplay and within a few days of posting, I had people commenting about how I was a “fat Neru” or that “I had let myself go.” What made this hurt even worse is that I already knew I was big.

I put myself on a diet and not even a year prior I had starved myself to lose weight and I was struggling so hard to feel beautiful, to look good. The outcome was nothing more than tears and it triggered me – really bad. I lost all motivation to buy any more cosplays for the next 3 years. Even then, I only went to one con for the next year and skipped the year after. I was scarred.

To top it off I was only 16 at the time. I had been bullied throughout my childhood about my weight and just about what made me, me. So it was difficult and there was no handling other then the fact I allowed it to affect me. I had no one to turn to and nothing more that I could do. It was hard to overcome, but I am glad I did. Thanks to friends and returning to a community that was nothing like I remember it’s a wonderful feeling. I never want to give it up.” -Coser Tiger Rose Cosplay

So I ask you today, why do you cosplay? Do you see harassment or bullying and say nothing? Are you working hard to overcome the challenges cosplay brings you?

Read my most view blog Titled To the defeated and tired cosplayer: It will be okay” for more inspiration and encouragement.

Tell me your story! Email your story to happycosplayer@gmail.com and I may share it both here on my blog and on social media. Help inspire and encourage others, and let them know they are not alone.

-Happy Cosplayer

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