Cosplay defined: a contraction of the words costume and play, cosplay is a hobby in which participants make and wear costumes to represent a specific character. The broader use of the term “cosplay” applies to any costuming in venues apart from the stage or Halloween.
So now that we got that out of the way…
I was half-watching Deadpool last night while making dinner and the part where he makes his costume got my attention. I love watching costume progressions. One of my favorite parts of superhero movies is finding out how they got their outfit. Did they assemble the parts? Sew it themselves? Find it waiting for them like the latest Wonder Woman?
I am often asked how I got into costuming or why I cosplay. It’s a tough question for me because it’s just always been a part of who I am. I just love costumes and costumey things. I love playing dress up, and I love making things. I was doing this WAY before it was ever called cosplay and I will be doing it long after the fad has peaked and popular interest wanes. I can’t watch a movie without looking at every costume detail and thinking about how I would make it.
I still remember watching Michelle Pfeiffer as Selena Kyle frantically stitching together her vinyl catsuit in Batman Returns. It was the moment she transformed into Catwoman. That is one costume I have always wanted to make! Just watching her obsessively assemble those vinyl pieces made me want to run for the sewing machine.
So I think That is the kernel of a true costumer/cosplayer. It’s just something in your blood. You don’t have to try and think about it, you see costumes and things to create everywhere. You get this excited feeling about bringing these things to life. You can’t “quit cosplay” as I see so many people post from time to time. It would be like losing a part of yourself. And for me, it would be a loss of creativity, inspiration and a source of happiness.
So even though I don’t dress up every weekend, attend every con or make costumes as my job anymore, it’s still a part of me and always will be.
When I was little, I won a lot of costume contests. But one contest in particular stands out to me because I didn’t win. I came in second and the winner was dressed as a maid. At first I was upset because my mom and I had worked really hard on my black and white jester costume. But then I talked to the maid and found out “she” was a boy. Mind. Blown.
I absolutely loved it. He was dressed as a girl, dressed as a maid! Double costume! I didn’t question it or think it meant anything weird.
Fast forward to now, when celebrities are getting a lot of attention (and a lot of criticism) for letting their boys dress like girls. First Liev Schreiber letting his son dress as Harley Quinn at San Diego Comic Con, and then today on Yahoo News, another celeb letting their son wear a dress to the opera. My reaction – they’re kids, kids like to play dress-up, so what? But the comments were just awful. So bad I thought some of them must be jokes but they weren’t. Apparently, a lot of people firmly believe that men literally must wear the pants and women wear the dresses, and that anything else is a mental illness.
I’ve found there is a lot of acceptance in the costuming and cosplay community for wearing whatever you want. I dress as traditionally “boy” characters all the time. I like to put my own girly spin on them, but still, I’m an over 40 mom dressed as a boy elf and nobody bats an eye.
My only criticism was about the Harley costume- I wouldn’t let an 8-year-old girl wear tiny sparkly shorts and ripped fishnets, so I definitely wouldn’t let my son wear it. But if he wanted to throw on an Elsa dress and dance around the house? No problem. My mom let me wear a boy’s basketball uniform constantly when I was 2 because that’s what I liked (when I wasn’t prancing around in superhero Underroos) and I turned out fine.
And I’m sure these kids will be fine too. However they turn out, they are fine. They are kids and they will change, and they will try things and they will play dress-up. I just find it funny that women once had to fight to wear pants, and now the men have to fight to be accepted in dresses.
I’m old school. The only video games I kick ass at were released at least 20 years ago. And I love Star Wars, but I haven’t even seen Rogue One yet.
And I feel like that sort of define things. Especially with the death of Han Solo and then the real life death of Princess Leia (and also Spock). My geek generation is getting older and our icons are dying off.
But at the same time a new generation is rising. The force is actually awakening, but also changing with the times. Like the new Wonder Woman movie. It’s a different WW than I grew up with, and it’s taking me a little bit to really embrace this new one. Although I love her and her strong character, she’s just not my Wonder Woman. I almost wish she had a different name, because I will always picture Lynda Carter in her star spangled outfit. But this generation needs an Amazon warrior, so that’s who she became.
I grew up with this stuff and it didn’t seem geeky back then. In fact, I thought it was all pretty cool. I played NES obsessively, but I didn’t go around saying I was a “gamer girl.” I wasn’t aware there was a distinction. I played Jedi with my cousins using broomsticks as lightsabers. I decked myself out in a cardboard tiara and Wonder Woman Underoos and ran around the house fighting crime. My Big Wheel was the green and purple Incredible Hulk edition.
So that is why my costuming isn’t usually about the latest and greatest thing to come out. I usually look to childhood favorites for inspiration. So in my mind, I really DID get to grow up and be Wonder Woman, lol. (… and Link, and Princess Peach, etc.)
I’m looking forward to raising my son in his own geeky generation. But I’m pretty sure to him, it will just be cool kid stuff.
Update – I wrote this post as a draft last week. And last night I finally watched Rogue One! And of course I liked it.
One of my favorite big conventions is almost here – San Diego Comic Con! I went the year I got pregnant and haven’t made it back since I had my son, but we have done a lot of other conventions together. In fact, he attended his first con at just 6 weeks old! I look forward to taking him to SDCC one day, but until then, we’ll be hitting up cons a little closer to home.
Attending a con with a kid was a whole new experience for me. My usual plan was just show up, take a lot of pictures and basically party all day and night. Now I have to plan around nap times, changing diapers and having no choice about being up at 7AM every morning.
So here’s my Top 10 Tips List for Attending Conventions with Kids:
Try something local first. Short trips are best. You can search sites that list cons by state like UpComingCons.com & Cosplayconventioncenter.com, but if you just put “cosplay conventions” or “comic conventions” along with your location into Google, you’re going to find something!
If you aren’t going to be local, be close enough so you can easily walk back to the hotel for naptime. Believe me, this will make things SO much easier.
Check out the event ahead of time and plan your day. Make a list of events and things you want to attend with time and location.
Forget about actually making it to any of those things. Just kidding. A little.
If you have a baby, make sure you have something to cover your costume with. Nothing like ruining all your hard work with a bunch of spit-up.
Plan your costume around being able to pick-up and hold kid, feed kid and change diapers. If you are not able to do this, make sure you have a “baby handler” with you for assistance.
Go easy on the kid costume. They are probably just going to fall asleep, drop food on it or rip it off after two minutes anyway. A good easy costume is a t-shirt that matches your general theme. When I do Wonder Woman, I often dress my son in a Superman t-shirt. He’s had an impressive collective since he was born. He never went a month without one in his size. I actually just printed out a bunch of ink jet iron-ons and would make whatever size I needed at the time.
If you start taking them when they are young, then they will love it as they get a little older and you won’t need to worry about them being afraid of the characters and costumes. My son loves getting up close and touching the costumes.
Pack more than you think you need- extra food, diapers, clothes, drinks…extras of everything! We went to ConJure and after a 2 hour car ride my son started projectile vomiting. We went through a LOT of clothes. You never know what you are going to run into. Be prepared.
Do a kid-friendly cosplay group. I had a great time as Princess Parfaya in a Sesame Street Star Smores group at Star Wars Celebration and the kids and parents totally got it.
And most of all, just have fun, soak up the experience and share every moment with your little one. This is your chance to share your fandom and geekiness as a family affair.
I recently started a new YouTube channel called Sew Geek Mama so I could do tutorials about sewing and crafting for cosplay related stuff. While doing research, it came to my attention that there a LOT of good videos out there already. And many appear to be professionally filmed and edited, with people that know what to say and when to say it.
My channel is none of those things.
It’s just me, filming myself, doing things just like I’d do if there wasn’t a camera. I mess up. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what to say. Sometimes I just mumble to myself. But in the end I am striving to make something easy to follow, that might help people learn a new skill in a less intimidating way.
For some people, sewing is like baking – get a pattern, follow instructions, finished product looks like photo.
For me, sewing is more like cooking – get basic ingredients, read directions, try some stuff, adjust as necessary, finished product is something unique and personal.
So I hope you will join me on this new little video adventure. I’m learning how to do this as I go along and hope to improve with each tutorial! I’m starting with some small stuff and will soon do full projects.