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Why People Who Cosplay Are Wonderful

Why People Who Cosplay Are Wonderful

You’ve seen the photographs from Comic-Con and Anime Expo. You’ve watched videos of the attendees at conventions having the time of their lives. Yes, cosplayers are a unique and interesting sort, and not just because they look like super heroes.

Here are a few reasons why cosplayers are more amazing than they are given credit for.

They are brave.

Have you ever been getting dressed in the morning and thought, “Ugh, I can’t wear this. It’s too outlandish!” The thought that you might be seen by someone else as having “bad fashion sense” or “poor taste” is real for so many people.

In the world of cosplay, however, that borderline is pushed far, far back. Does your character wear a hawaiian shirt and swim trunks with a giant turtle shell on his back? Better get the shell out! Cosplayers can push away the fear of judgment from other people in favour of flying their colours high–and that takes courage.

They are loyal.

What happens when a cosplayer gets judged harshly? It happens. Someone will criticize a cosplayer for being the wrong shape or size–or even colour–to cosplay that character. The overwhelming majority in the cosplay community will not stand for this kind of behaviour!

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Cosplayers stick together. If you can’t be yourself around other people in the same niche, then what’s the point? Cosplayers take that to heart, and there’s nothing better than watching a naysayer get schooled by a band of supportive cosplayers–nay, of friends.

They are resourceful.

Have you seen some of those giant robot costumes that people bring to big conventions? Eight feet tall, with lights and sounds, and fully-articulate, these costumes are phenomenal to witness. They must have cost a fortune, manufactured by some big movie company, right? Well, actually…

The dominant majority of the cosplay community made their costumes by the sweat of their own brow. The Gundam MK-II you saw was made primarily of cardboard and EVA foam, with hours of trial-and-error and research on how the joints should move. The Edward Elric’s automail arm was painstakingly built from pieces of plastic drink bottles and craft foam, painted to look like a pristine metal prosthesis. The huge Buster Sword that Cloud’s carrying around? Expanding Foam and papier-maché. Especially because so many conventions have special rules as to what your costumes and props can NOT be made of, cosplayers have to get creative.

They never cease to impress.

They are passionate.

Ever talked to someone who had a real, vested interest in something, and were just blown away by their zeal? Cosplayers are that to a tee.

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What’s better, though, is that the same passion they use for making their costumes extends to making friends. There’s no better way to gain a new friend than to ask about their costume’s series or compliment them on the construction of the specific details (because believe me, they put effort into the details). They will sit and nerd out with you about this series or that character, despite having never met you before, so long as you invoke the same passion that they have.

Extra tip: Find a “Doctor Who” cosplayer and ask what they think of the 8th Doctor. You’re sure to get some passion there!

They are highly skilled.

The skills needed to be a successful and amazing cosplayer are myriad, but the ones that stand out the most are the use of a sewing machine, wig and hair styling, makeup, and conceptual design. From a professional standpoint, cosplaying can build up a great portfolio of skills to show potential employers. It can be a great tool to learn new skills. And, according to a study from Asia Pacific University, it can even lead to a full-blown career: Many cosplayers take the knowledge and skills that they acquire in their hobby and turn them into a lucrative and successful lifestyle.

They are organised.

To be fair, it must be acknowledged that not all cosplayers are super-organised. Cosplayers will often speak of the “pre-con rush” that precedes the debut of a new costume, where they are far behind their deadlines and have to work into wee hours of the morning finishing their stuff. However, that too shows a level of organisation that is unparallelled in many other hobbies.

To make a cosplay, one needs to first gather reference images and stills from the source media. Gathering those, one then has to plan out all the pieces of the outfits and source materials. Costumes next need to be built individually, using a variety of skills and tools. Items that cannot be built must be bought or otherwise obtained, adding another layer of complexity.

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Finally, once all the items are finished, they have to be pieced together into the full costume, which includes styling a wig or hairdo, applying makeup, and making sure that all aspects of the costume look proper.

Bravo, cosplayers!

They are sociable.

With all kinds of social media available to the specific cosplay scene, including Facebook groups, Cosplay.com’s forums, Cosplay Archive, and even Cosplay Amino, even people who haven’t got cosplay friends nearby can immerse themselves in the community. Many colleges have anime clubs and cosplay groups. There are meetups in basically every major city. And if nothing else presents itself, there are always conventions.

Some people might think that going alone to a convention and cosplaying is an example of the non-social nature of the art form, but that’s the furthest thing possible from the truth. When you go to a convention alone, it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, hang out with other skilled and passionate cosplayers, and expand your social circle infinitely. With a little courage, presto! A new group of friends. This goes the opposite direction, too–cosplayers who attend conventions in groups tend to be warm and welcoming to those who approach them.

They are good people.

Every community has outliers–the people who body shame others, the elitists who will not socialise with other, “lower quality” cosplayers, the people who go to conventions looking only for pictures of scantily-clad con-goers.

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It must be made clear, however, that these people are not the epoch of cosplay, nor are they even close to a majority. Cosplayers tend to be polite, cordial people who look out for others and enjoy being with people who share their interests. Far greater is the number of “Your costume looks amazing!” cosplayers than “You should stop cosplaying” members.

At the end of the day, when you and your new friends go to the diner down the street and sit around eating pancakes and sharing stories until 3 in the morning, you’re experiencing the reality of the cosplay community. When you head back to school or work when the gathering is over, your life is enriched by your passion, your efforts, and your friends. When people come to bully you for your taste in media, your choice to dress like a super hero, or your spending time with others like you, it is they that need the support the most.

Invite them to come along to the next con with you–maybe you’ll make a new friend there, too.

Featured photo credit: Rocket Racoon and Groot Cosplayers by Gage Skidmore via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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