#CosplayAnyWay

Art by Lana Andrade.

A few years back, I thought about quitting cosplay. There was this influx of people who seemed to only value cosplayers who looked just like the character. And if they didn’t, they at least had to be super cute or super sexy. I don’t really feel like I am any of those things. I mean, I know I don’t look like any comic book characters. And I don’t often put in the work to be cute or sexy. And when I was at conventions, each year I felt more and more invisible.

For the record, no one cosplays to feel invisible.

But feeling less and less visible after years of being stopped for photos was a little heartbreaking. I mean, what was the point if only I cared?

The point was that I cared, and I mattered. I decided to cosplay anyway.

Even when nobody knew who I was — #CosplayAnyWay

When I felt too fat to be that character — #CosplayAnyWay

When I did a shit job on my sewing, gluing, taping, sculpting, moldning — #CosplayAnyWay

When I realized that most other cosplayers are in their 20s and I was hitting 40 — #CosplayAnyWay

Because, yes, while I do want attention, cosplay hits a lot of other marks for me. It helps me manage my emotional health. It makes me happy. I have a great time. It engages my need for problem solving in a creative way. It keeps me interested in fashion. And, ironically, despite the marginalization I’ve experienced at conventions, it makes me feel visible. And I love those cosplay pictures!

2011 Nightcrawler Pic And 2012 Hellboy Pic. Hellboy Photo By Jason Bohannon Of Soulfuric Studios.

It took a while, but I decided that my cosplay was for me. I realized I could do what I want and that I could curate the attention I wanted. After that decision, my experience changed. I was able to define goals — the first of which was better quality images. I looked for ways to achieve that…from asking photographers for sessions, signing up for group stuff, to hiring photographers who’s work I liked. You can look at my images and see the shift that happened from 2011 to 2012. The photos became a mix of informal convention photos and professionally staged photos.

I chose to learn the skills I wanted and had the confidence to choose what I wanted to do. I opted out of group cosplay if I wasn’t interested. I say no to things that don’t engage me. I set my own pace and goals, and I don’t force myself to create a ton of new cosplays because frankly, I want do too many other things with my time. I want to do everything!

So even when my cosplay feels janky, #CosplayAnyWay. When my cosplay feels inferior, #CosplayAnyWay. When my shit is cardboard, duct tape, a t-shirt, and face paint, #CosplayAnyWay.

Any way you want. Any way you feel. Any way you look. Any way you obtained your cosplay…except stealing. Don’t steal or murder anyone for your cosplay. It’s really not that deep. I just meant bought or home-made.

Cosplay in almost any way, for any reason you want to do it.

#CosplayAnyWay because fuck it — it’s fun and I want to do it. If something has you worried about trying to cosplay, fuck it — #CosplayAnyWay.

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Originally published at talynnkel.com on November 22, 2017.