By Nicole Chavannes
For those of us that enjoy the occasional – or daily – escape from reality, sometimes simply watching our favorite fictional show or movie isn’t enough to give us our fix. At times, we want to go further than just watching or reading about our favorite characters; we want to physically become them. If this sounds appealing to you at all, then you might consider trying out a little phenomenon known as “cosplay.”
Short for “costume play,” cosplay is defined as “the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation and science fiction,” according to dictionary.com.
Frances Lindo, junior general studies, psychology and education major and four-year avid cosplayer, shared her insight on cosplay and provided helpful tips for any interested, but reluctant, parties.
According to Lindo, cosplay is more than simply donning a vague costume in October and begging for candy. It often takes months of work and preparation beforehand, and not with the intent to scare, as is customary on Halloween. Also, cosplay usually takes place at cons – short for conventions – like the Florida SuperCon, or at cosplay contests.
“At cons, you’re there in cosplay because you’re trying to be your character and show people that you’re a part of this fandom.”
Lindo said that cosplay contests often require proof that you made the costume yourself, like pictures of you making it, to ensure that you didn’t buy it online.
“You don’t just wake up one day and decide you want to be Raven [from ‘Teen Titans’] for the con, and the con is in a week… This is not something you pull off the rack at Target or Party City,” she said.
Because costumes are often homemade, require extensive preparation and portray specific characters – as opposed to all-encompassing titles like a firefighter or a witch – cosplay is a distinct art and hobby, separate from dressing up for Halloween.
Lindo explained that when new to cosplay, starting simple is best. Start with a character, and break it up into pieces.
“What I tell beginners is pick [a character] that only has like two or three parts. My very first one was Buttercup from the ‘Power Puff Girls’ because, guess what, it’s simple. She really only has three things going for her – her hair, her dress and her shoes and socks,” said Lindo.
For those nervous about participating in cosplay, Lindo recommends going in a group or trying it out with friends.
“Find at least one other person to be [a character] with you. Go as a group or as a duo,” she said.
Lindo said she spends anywhere between $30-$100 on a character, depending on how complex it is. For cosplayers on a budget, Lindo recommends utilizing your nearest thrift, craft and dollar stores, as well as old clothes you don’t plan on wearing or even other people’s unwanted clothes.
“Just remember that usually ‘close enough’ is good enough,” she said.
Why ‘play’ the game?
You may be asking yourself, “Why should I cosplay? How will it benefit me?” when considering the extensive time and effort it takes. Lindo explained that the work is worth it when you, and others, see the end result.
“I think that’s my favorite part; when people tell me they love my costume, because I work hard. When you dress up as something obscure and someone’s like, ‘Hey, I know you,’ it’s like ‘Yes! Someone else [recognizes] me’… It makes me feel special.”
Con-goers are more often than not completely supportive of one another, according to Lindo. When asked if there has been any costume-shaming at cons she’s frequented, Lindo responded, “No. We never do that. We know better… Why put someone down?”
Locate the costume gameboard
If, after reading this article, you’re looking for opportunities to cosplay in the area, here are a few:
Hatsume Fair 2017
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens | April 1-2
MegaCon Orlando 2017
Orange County Convention Center | May 25-28
Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center | July 27-30