Hi, again, everybody! I want to thank you all for making my first article such a success. It’s so nice to finally be pursuing a lifelong dream at long last.
Now, let’s talk about something that is very dear to my wicked little heart: Cosplay. For the uninitiated, Cosplay is a mash up “Costume Play.” People build or buy costumes of their favorite characters from TV shows, movies, comics, video games, anime, webcomics, the list goes on into eternity. Cosplay is awesome! There’s nothing quite like walking around a convention and getting to meet your favorite characters from your particular fandoms. I may have frightened a Link or two in my day due to my fangirling.
On the flip side, how much satisfaction is there in completing a costume? I learned to sew so that I could build an Elizabeth Comstock costume last year. Let me tell you, putting together that little jacket was nearly my undoing. I think I took the stupid thing apart at least three times. There was blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of curse words that went into that costume. In the end, it was all worth it. I received so many compliments and people asking for pictures with me.
So, yeah, Cosplay is fantastic. But there’s a Dark Side to it: body shaming. Gender shaming. Race shaming. “You’re too (fat, skinny, black, white, female, male) to play that character!” All it takes is one hateful remark to completely break somebody down and take all the joy out of what was supposed to be an homage to a passion. We hear about it all the time. It’s all over the Internet via “Terrible Cosplay” websites and hurtful comments on pictures. Instead of praising and supporting our fellow geeks with their hard work, there’s so much hate out there and it breaks my heart.
I am not a small lady. I’ve struggled with my weight and my body image for as long as I can remember. I think I’m pretty in the face, but I’ve always been ashamed of my body because I don’t look like the models and actresses I see on TV. Because of this, I’ve always been afraid of going out on a limb and build the costumes I want to try. How can I play Donna Troy/Troia if I don’t look absolutely perfect in that black, star-covered bodysuit? It’s not an easy thing with which to cope.
The reason I bring this up is because of my Elizabeth Cosplay. Anybody who is familiar with Bioshock Infinite knows that Elizabeth is a petite lady. I was worried when I first decided to build my own costume because while I may be short, I’m not thin. I’m lucky enough to have incredibly encouraging people in my life that supported me through the whole process. I built the costume and proudly paraded around the Halloween parties in all my glory. Because of the positive feedback I received, I had the confidence to enter a Cosplay contest at a local convention the following month. I didn’t win, but I had the pleasure of hearing the crowd cheer and applaud for me.
So, it is totally possible to Cosplay outside of one’s body type. What about cosplaying outside of one’s gender or race? To that I say: Why is this even an issue? I have seen some of the most amazing Cosplay come across my Tumblr dashboard courtesy of Cosplay-Gamers (http://cosplay-gamers.tumblr.com). My absolute favorite thing about Cosplay-Gamers is that they are part of the movement to end ridiculous shaming in the Cosplay World. They regularly post cosplayers who play outside of their “limits.” Cosplayers like Lara Lundari and Knightmage.
Let me tell you about these cats. Lara first came to my attention when her Morrigan cosplay showed up in my dash. The costume is exquisite and well built. The lighting is flattering and enhances her natural beauty. Mostly, though, she does not have the typical model physique. Lara is not stick-thin, nor are her photos shopped to make her fit into that standard. Lara is curvy, stunning, and obviously insanely talented. She also is part of a movement called “Stop The Hate,” which aims to end discrimination of all kinds in the Cosplay community. I highly recommend you visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/laralunardi. Trust me, she is amazing.
Next up we have Knightmage. Knightmage blows me away. He first came to my attention because of his Batman Cosplay. The story behind it is fantastic: he had been hesitant to Cosplay Batman because Batman is white. One day he decided to do it and, while visiting a school in costume, was told by a little boy that Knightmage had shown him that Batman can be black and that the little boy could be Batman, too. Do you need a minute to grab a tissue? I did, too. It’s cool.
Aside from Batman, Knightmage does the most fabulous The Tick I’ve ever seen! Guys, seriously, his The Tick is second to none. Take some time to look at his Facebook page and check out his incredible skills. Spawn, Deadpool, Blade. This guy is so versatile and his building skills are mind-blowing. Here’s his page: https://www.facebook.com/Knightmage1.
I love these people because not only are they super talented, but they are out there proving that it doesn’t matter your gender, body type, or race. Cosplay is about love: love for a character, love for the craftsmanship, and love for being the center of attention. If you’ve ever felt that you can’t do that Sherlock Cosplay because you’re a girl or you can’t pull of Misato Katsuragi because you’re not skinny enough, please take a moment to look at these people. Let them be your inspiration. You’re beautiful and your efforts are always appreciated.
Let’s come together to end the hate and spread the love. We’re all geeks in this together.
Special thanks to Cosplay Gamers, Lara Lundari, and Knighmage for their support and enthusiasm for being included in this article. All images and references are used with their permission. Please, go check out the blogs and Facebook pages. Quick links for these fabulous players:
Lara Lundari: https://www.facebook.com/laralunardi