- Mairead Levitt
Cosplayers: the Strongest of the Nerds
Superheroes are strong. They radiate power and honor. They are the stand-up figures in our society. That’s well known. They, however, are also very fictional. It’s easy to be powerful and strong when an author is dictating your life. The people who are actually strong and deserving of praise aren’t the heroes but the fans. More than just that, the most powerful among us are the cosplayers.
According to the Urban Dictionary, cosplay is short for "Costume Play: Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character.” Whether it’s putting on a character’s iconic t-shirt or assembling a whole superhero outfit, cosplaying isn’t easy. Most cosplayers are found at conventions, and while conventions and cosplaying are fun, they come with their own set of challenges. Without further ado, here are reasons why cosplayers are a lot stronger than we give them credit for.
The first big reason is judgment. There will always be others in the same outfits as you. Whether you are one of three less known characters or one of hundreds of Deadpools, you will always be compared with anyone else who looks like you. Even if an outfit is more lowkey, a Deadpool mask rather than the whole ensemble, the fact that people dressed up shows that they care, and they’ll know that people will always judge them for not being the best.
The second reason people often overlook is the recognizability that comes with cosplaying. Let’s be real. If people are cosplaying, they want to be noticed and complimented. If they’re cosplaying, they probably will be okay with taking a picture with someone who asks, but at the same time, consent is a tricky topic. Despite being dressed up, people will still be people. They’ll still eat and cough, and getting their picture taken without them knowing in an awkward way is challenging. The issue with consent goes deeper, especially to touching. Sometimes, if someone has a cool prop or outfit, some people don’t have the restraint or respect of asking before touching. Especially if it’s a part of someone’s outfit, having someone reach out and touch a cosplayer is anywhere from annoying to genuinely uncomfortable.
The cost of cosplaying isn’t nothing either. Whether it’s buying a custom fit outfit or buying the materials to make an outfit yourself, cosplaying isn’t cheap. Especially with the issue above of touching without permission, if someone touches a fragile thing that you either spent a lot of money on or spent a lot of time making, it’s devastating. The cost issue is pretty big because if you’re cosplaying, you want to look good, and working half-heartedly on an outfit doesn’t make you feel any good. People put effort into their outfits, and more effort means higher cost.
The worst part of cosplay, even with the judgement, unwanted recognition and cost, is the heat. I worked at AwesomeCon this past weekend, and it was great, but it was so hot. I was in jeans and a t-shirt, but I was sweating due to the number of people that were there. I was hot in a t-shirt, but there were people in overcoats and multiple layers to perfect their outfits. The heat is truly unbearable, especially for people in in body armor or character’s signature jacket.
Cosplaying is often overlooked or scoffed at due to most people thinking that it’s just for people to dress in skimpy anime outfits. However, it’s so much more than that. It’s a way for people to pay homage to their favorite things. A lot of work goes into cosplaying, and in my opinion, it’s all worth it. Cosplay has its challenges – many challenges -- but it’s a way to show what people love, and when someone recognizes you or asks to take a picture with you because he/she love your outfit, it’s the best feeling in the world.