Costume inspiration: Cosplaying for the rest of us
Cosplay has been a topic that’s been coming up a lot in conversation for the last few weeks, both online and in real life. (For the three of you still unfamiliar with cosplay and unable to use Google, I’ll save you five minutes by giving you the Wikipedia page link right now. You’re welcome.) Granted, I’m not exactly an expert on the art of costume play or the large and varied community behind it. In my time I have only briefly dabbled in cosplay in my numerous adventures to Comic Cons and movie premieres. Luckily for all of us, few photos from these excursions exist, so precious opportunities for Tumblr fame and/or blackmail are pretty far and few in between.
Friends are always asking me, “Who should I cosplay as?” My response is usually, “I don’t know. Whoever the hell you want?” Because, honestly, whoever the hell you want usually works for me. Starfleet medical officer? Ten-year-old adventurer? Captain America? I got this. But people always give me these strange, pleading looks. “But I can’t do that!” they say, “I’m dark-skinned!” Or “I’m not a boy!” Or “I’m not skinny!” Or “I have tattoos and piercings!” Then, it becomes an entirely different situation, and I find myself wracking my brain for an answer.
The thing is, these issues never occurred to me. My dress size, my piercings or gender never even crossed my mind when picking a costume. At 2009 San Diego Comic Con I was the only 5’4, 200lb Flapjack there, and you know what? People loved that. People gave me hugs and high-fives. I got off lucky, really, and I realize that now. Plus-sized cosplayers, cosplayers of color, and cosplayers with visible tattoos and piercings often receive nothing but criticism — and sometimes far worse — from within the community for “deviating” from their character. Apparently putting on tights and a wig is tantamount to signing a social contract to embody everything about a fictional character, right down to your skin color and your skeletal structure. To do anything else — such as cosplay while fat, non-Caucasian, or any other established no-no — opens yourself up to name-calling and abuse. News to me, right?
After a lot of thought on this very delicate subject, I decided my answer to my friends is still a resounding, “Do whatever the hell you want.” I wish I could come up with something better than that, but, sadly, I am currently unable to become a 6’1″ Japanese woman with a perfect body and purple eyes, or magically grow a literal set of balls. In that case, I’m going to just continue dressing up like superheroes and Starfleet officers, and to hell with everybody else. So, in the spirit of inspiration, self-love, and picking fights on the internet, I present to you examples of cosplay for the rest of us. Fat, thin, boy, girl, tattooed — just put your tights on and go out there.
All images are property of their individual owners, and also the first guy to comment with “But fat chicks can’t cosplay!” gets thrown out the airlock. Oh, and Rule 63 Rockabilly Wolverine gets two mentions because that woman is a gem.