Every year, tens of thousands of fans attend conventions for the fandom of their choice. Once you step foot into one of these “cons,” you are suddenly thrust into a pool of characters that fans know and love.
Cosplay is defined as dressing up as the characters that you admire from anime, video games, comics, cartoons and sometimes live action movies or shows.
To some, cosplay is merely an expensive hobby, but to my friends and I, it is more like a lifestyle and escape.
For 10 years, I have dedicated a lot of my time to buying and building cosplays from the various anime and video games that I enjoy. Anime is a kind of Japanese animation that has many different genres.
At first I began my path to cosplay by messing around with thrift store clothing and putting my hair in various ways to make myself look and act like the characters I loved.
As my love for the “hobby” grew, I bought my very first set of wigs and tried my best to style them. I was not that good at first and was an obvious beginner, but as the years went by, my skills in makeup and wigs made up for some of the store-bought or manipulated-from-thrift-store costumes.
As time went on, I lost and gained many friends, most of whom I met at conventions.
In Feb. 2007, I went to my very first convention: Katsucon.
Katsucon is an annual convention that usually falls on or around Valentine’s Day. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center houses this convention every year at the National Harbor near Washington, D.C. It’s home to a gorgeous gazebo where cosplayers fight to have their photos taken.
Cosplay is a hobby anyone can join, and despite a few bad apples who believe in putting down others if they are not “good enough,” the diversity of cosplayers makes anyone feel at home and welcome.
The motto my friend and I go by is: Cosplay is for everyone. Cosplay does not discriminate by race, sex, disability, weight, etc. If you are a black man who wants to play a white teenager from the video game Kingdom Hearts, you should be able to do it and do it in your own style.
A well-known cosplayer by the name of Terry Hall attended this year’s Katsucon.
“I cosplay because I have a lot of love for certain characters in video games and anime, and I just want to recreate them as accurate as possible at conventions,” he said after the convention.
Through the cosplay community, I was able to learn who I truly was inside and out. Cosplay allows me to become the kinds of people I would never usually be in everyday life. My favorite kind of character is always the headstrong protagonist or the sassy and chaos-inducing antagonist.
When I used to work in retail before coming back to school, cosplay was my outlet to unwind after long stressful days at work. For many, this is yet another reason to go to these conventions.
Chris Fetz could not attend Katsu this year but was still able to give me a small interview via Facebook chat.
“I work a 9-5 office job and getting to dress up with friends, meet people who like the shows and books that I do and play make-believe for a few days is a nice escape from the seriousness of real life,” she said. “It allows you to be someone else for a day. I often dress as male characters. I am bisexual but, I identify as female. And, I’m pretty feminine in my real life.”
As someone who is genderfluid and pansexual, I can relate to this last statement. I can be a male whenever I want in cosplay with no explanation of my gender. To many people of the cosplay community, cosplay is not just a hobby; it is a way of life and small escape from reality.
Monica Corney is a fourth-year student majoring in English writing with a minor in Spanish. They can be reached at MC880820@wcupa.edu.