It is my personal belief that cosplayers are born, not made. I think cosplayers come into this world with a playful angel on their shoulder, one that whispers secrets of creativity and inspiration, one that tells each of us how to discover and channel a self-expression that goes beyond the mundane of day-to-day life. Cosplayers are the forever young, the eternally creative, the pioneers of imagination. They take the fantastic and drop it into the real world, they pull from their spirits the inner child, the writer, the creator. They never take off the mask, the suit, the makeup–we are who we portray, and we portray who we identify with. They are our alter egos, our secret identities; and the spirit of our cosplay is as undefinable as the joy it brings to each and every person who has experienced costuming in one way or another.
Trying to explain cosplay can sometimes be as difficult as trying to define the moment I “became” one. As I opened with, I believe that all cosplayers are born cosplayers–and if you’re over 16 and have ever dressed up for Halloween, you might even roughly be considered one too–but there is a moment in our lives that we define ourselves as a part of this massive, enriching community of like-minded individuals who costume as their favorite fandom (be it games, entertainment, comics, Anime, etc). In that sense, I believe I’ve always been a cosplayer. As a child, I used to wear Halloween costumes out of season around the house. I also used to combine Halloween costumes to make up my own character. When I was in high school, I custom ordered a Jedi Knight ensemble to wear once at a party because I wanted my costume to look “screen accurate”. At my first convention, I was going to meet a cast member of the Battlestar Galactica re-imagined series and it was suggested I put together a costume for the convention–by then I was ten years out of high school and still only wore costumes for Halloween. Still, I researched one and ordered a custom made esemble for the Green BDU outfit. I wore it to Fanexpo Canada, met Katee in it and had photos of myself taken in it. It’s the convention that made me want to have more costumes, attend more conventions and submerge myself in this awesome community. Was this the defining moment? Or had it been there all along?
The following year I created my first home-made costume, the Iron Man Mark 4. I learned how to replicate armor and props, and had purchased in that time my Viper Flight-suit and my femme Two-Face custom 3-piece suit. I had been using my high-school purchased Jedi Knight costume to troop with the Rebel Legion, and had begun networking to other cosplayers while attending major cons like NYCC, D*Con and C2E2 as well as some of the smaller conventions like Farpoint, ICON and Lunacon. When the Mark 4 was complete I went on to compete in Masquerades and won awards at Farpoint, Lunacon and PhillyCon. It’s inspiring, humbling, and amazing to be so supported by peers and judges alike that I could never thank any of you enough for the experience.
People such as yourselves reading this blog and those I meet at these conventions do not birth the cosplayer in oneself. It’s nurtured, fed, and given a life in a way we could not do alone. So when one is asked what one does, do not hesitate to use the word cosplay. It means expression, it means art, it means fandom, it means there’s an alter ego in you that wants to be heard. So strut your kick-ass self alongside me–and let’s play.