Learning to Cosplay My Way

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Cosplay My Way

I’m Neysha. You may know me from one of the podcasts I co-host here on the But Why Tho? Community or from my rantings on Twitter. If you have listened to any of my shows, then you also know how deep my love for all things nerdy especially anime, cartoons, and superhero runs.

I’ve always liked that these genres, didn’t only entertain me, but gave me a healthy option for escapism when the real world felt like too much.  I mean,  who hasn’t imagined what it would be like to be transported into their favorite comic or anime before. I know I have plenty of times!

That also explains why I love to cosplay too. It’s exciting and fun to dress up like a favorite character. Putting together the outfit and pretending I’m them even for just a little bit is a great outlet. However, as much as I love cosplay, it took me a long time to get to the point of actually participating in this type of fandom.

To be honest, when I first started getting interested in trying to cosplay I had a lot of self-doubts.  I would always compare myself to other cosplayers’, that were pros, how for perfect they look — wondering if I could ever get on their level, or if I would look ridiculous if I tried. It isn’t like I can sew or craft accessories like most of the cosplayers I followed. So I started to think that maybe cosplay just wasn’t meant for me.

Thankfully a few years ago I came across #28DaysofBlackCosplay for the first time. It’s not that I hadn’t seen Black cosplayers before. It was that I didn’t know there were so many out there, especially Black women who were putting their style and influence into the characters they cosplayed. Like incorporating natural hairstyles into a character or slightly changing up the outfits to put their twists on them. Scrolling through the countless images of amazing cosplays re-ignited my desire to give it a try.

So I started connecting and talking to some cosplayers I had followed from the hashtag. Most, if not all, were Black Women and it helped a lot to get personal advice from them on the subject. They encouraged me to give cosplaying a try and always reminded me that what’s important is if I’m having fun and doing it my way.

My first cosplay, Jessica Jones 2017

Thanks to that encouragement and advice I eventually did my first cosplay and dressed up as Jessica Jones for Halloween 2017. While a lot of people at the party did not know who I was cosplaying and it didn’t bother me because I was proud of my cosplay and I was having fun in my own way.

Since that day, I’ve started to build my style of cosplay, something I like to refer to myself as “low maintenance cosplay”. Unlike most of the cosplayers I know and follow, I can’t sew outfits or craft accessories, and as much as I want to take up those hobbies, I don’t have the time to do it right now. I also don’t have the extra funds to invest in things like custom made character outfits or wigs like I would love to.

I’d also like to clarify that “low maintenance cosplay” isn’t meant as an insult to the people that put hours of blood, sweat, and tears into their work because I truly admire them and their dedication. Low maintenance, in this case, means that I know my limitations, work with what I got, and do what makes me feel comfortable.

This means I try to put together outfits either from affordable character merch or customizing clothes that inspire or remind me of a character. While one cosplay can be as simple as styling my hair like a character and wearing a shirt from Hot Topic.

Cosplay My Way
Second cosplay, Steven universe 2018

Another one can involve finding a pleather catsuit on sale $20 at Forever 21 that makes a great Catwoman cosplay and can be reused for other characters too.

Cosplay My Way
Third cosplay, Catwoman – 2019

So whether I look exactly like a character or not, what matters is that I’m having fun and doing it my way. Taking the first steps into cosplay can be intimidating, but once you learn to cosplay your way, you’ll see worth taking the leap.

2 Comments on “Learning to Cosplay My Way”

  1. Okay, I totally get what you’re saying, and I’m 100% behind all of it. I especially understand the plight of just not having the time and resources to ‘upgrade’ to more extravagant cosplays and techniques. My question though, is this: I cosplay chars I really connect to, that I personally enjoy who they are and can get into their personality and be them for a day; but what if that character is colored? I’m a 2nd generation American, so I have a very ethnic Greek family. I’m super pale, but one of my favorite characters of all time is Amanda Waller. I wouldn’t do any obnoxious face paint (that’s just stupid to even think about doing!) and no way in hell do I think a ‘tan’ will be any better. (Besides, I don’t want skin cancer, thank you!) I just love Waller, she’s such an iron-willed, pragmatic badass that doesn’t need martial arts or guns to be dangerous. I just want to cosplay HER, not her race, because I think she’s awesome. Am I allowed to do that? I may not ‘read’ as being Waller because obviously I’m not the same skin color, but I figured her iconic suit, some fake pearls, nametag, and a prop ‘detonator’ would do the job if anyone looks close enough. Can I cosplay her my way?

    1. Hi sorry I’m just now seeing this comment after such a long time. But to answer your question when a character you want to cosplay is a different skin color, race, or ethnicity, you can still cosplay them your way, and that doesn’t have to involve changing the color of your skin or other features to match their race. I do it all of the time when I cosplay characters that aren’t Black and yes some people will give me a hard time and say “that’s not accurate” or “you’re not really them”, and sucks to hear that, those people are wrong. You don’t have to darken your skin complexion or alter your features to look like a character you love. Just find ways to customize the the costume and add accessories where you can. I can’t guarantee that some people won’t give you a hard time but, I can guarantee you’ll still have fun cosplaying as your favorite character. Again sorry for the late response and I hope this was helpful 🙂

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