How To Start Cosplaying - The Philosophy of Costume-Play
Now and again I’ll get this seemingly obvious question
“Minney m8, how does someone start cosplaying?”
There are many potential wise-crack answers for this but I’d like to provide a more useful answer, coming up right now.
If you would rather watch than read:
Cover image photo by the amazing Jamie Flack of Cat & Crown Artwork
So the word cosplay means ‘Costume-Play’. It’s a sub-culture in which folks get into costumes of their favourite characters and hang out in many different parts of the world. Some cosplayers compete competitively and some even make a career out of it, but the majority of people do it entirely as a statement of fashion and culture.
But I genuinely think that cosplay is more than just putting on a costume, at least for me. To me cosplay is like allowing part of your soul to be set free for a day, it gives you a chance to bring your fantasies to life along with bringing that fantasy to other people as you act out that character. In fact, I’d even go as far to say that entertaining the public in cosplay and making them happy to see their favourite character is my most cherished part of this sub-culture. I did a video/article on it actually, click here
So before you get into cosplay look inside yourself and ask: Who are those characters you gravitate towards the most and who is it that you admire? It doesn’t matter if you feel like you don’t look like them and it doesn’t matter if they’re villains or heroes, this is all positive role-play and the sky really is the limit. Let me explain.
My first entry in the sub-culture of cosplay was a Sasuke Uchiha costume. A notoriously emo character who at the time I really felt like I resonated with as cringe as it might sound to some. He was an outlet for my teenage angst and frustration at the unfairness of life and he looked so cool to the 17-year-old version of me I’m almost embarrassed to say I just wanted to be him, this understandably made him an easy choice for me to cosplay. For a day, I could be somebody else. Somebody that was a positive outlet for all my perceived problems.
And although I don’t really resonate or vibe with that character anymore, or his now obvious personality flaws, back then when I cosplayed Sasuke I was able to act out a part of myself and then put it away at the end of the day. This is what I mean by positive role-play, we can be the most horrific villains & act out our darker side before switching to the most heroic characters that have ever had a name in fiction.
I now use that same feeling as a method of self-help, my ‘BE MORE SHONEN’ life philosophy that most of you watching this will have heard me harp on about. I use Son Goku and cosplay as my inspiration to try and achieve every crazy little dream I have, and I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t love the character so much.
At 21 years old I chose to cosplay the topless war-torn battle-damaged Super Saiyan Goku from Namek and set a weight loss goal that I had to be ripped in time for the convention. That goal got me to quit smoking, lose weight, and pack on muscle, along with being able to become my hero for the day. That positivity and reception from the public to see such a beloved character in real life has poured into my own life and to this day I consider my Goku cosplay as an ever-growing project that will likely never end.
I've been doing this for a LONG time. As evidenced by my growing collection of tattoos
Though, this doesn’t mean I don’t still dip into cosplaying villains and anti-heroes from time to time. Even though I’m cited by many as the ‘real-life Goku’ I assure you that I’m not and I have over 9,000 personality traits that I don’t particularly like about myself and for sure don’t fit with the Goku vibe. Doflamingo is my narcissism, Light Yagami is the manipulative and arrogant parts of myself, Greed is my…Greed, and Eren Yeager is my nihilism and depression.
I still dip into cosplaying my angsty pretty-boys from time to time
But, as my mantra #BEMORESHONEN suggests, heroes always take priority in my mind. Characters like Leon Kennedy, Mustang, Tienshinhan, Erwin Smith, and Zack Fair are the ones that I tend to resonate the most and feel the most comfortable cosplaying. They’re the type of characters that I want to be, and I let that positive energy bleed into my everyday life whilst allowing the villains to come out now and again as a form of therapy.
The heroes triumph <3 Cosplay: Son Goku (DragonBall Z) Photo by Jamie Flack of Cat & Crown (Taken at CosXpo 2019)
So if you want to get the most out of cosplay, pick that character that just clicks with you. I honestly think everything else is secondary. The passion that you feel for that character will lead you in the right direction, it certainly did for me! Once you have the character picked, you can take the costume side it as far or as serious as you want, you can make it yourself out of recycled clothes or get it commissioned by a high-end costumer. As long as you’ve picked a character that you love, no matter if they’re a hero or villain, you’ve done cosplay right.
And that’s how you get into cosplay.