Cosplay is a shortened form of two words – costume and play. The early 90s saw the rising of cosplay into popular culture, although it probably originated initially in Japan. It is the practice of portraying a fictional character – at times completely identifying as that character while in costume and thus acting as if the individual was that character to add to the authenticity of the experience.
It is of my own opinion that cosplay is not merely costuming, but a very unique form of performance art. It is most widely associated with comic books, anime, video games, and most things that are geeky in nature. It has become such a massive subculture within the geek world at this point that is is essentially synonymous with the idea of a convention or a gathering of individuals who subscribe to more geeky interests.
From personal experience, I have found that people cosplay for a multitude of reasons. Be it love of a character, enjoying the attention of being in an elaborate costume or portraying a loved character, or the appreciation from peers from completing a complex costume… there are many motivations for donning spandex or cape.
Kaitlyn Montague: Cosplay, for me, is like a badge of pride. Growing up, I was often told to be ashamed of my interests, that I needed to fear not acting enough “like a girl,” or that it was a phase I would eventually grow out of and learn to be ashamed of. Instead, I learned to embrace fandom as part of what makes me who I am, and cosplay is a large facet of that. It allows me to wear my interests on my sleeve (literally), and be proud them. Sure, it can be a challenging, frustrating hobby, but for all the hard work, watching the costume and the character come alive is really reward in itself.
Mac Beauvais: There are lots of great reasons to cosplay, and while I have several I can point to, the real driving force for me has been self-confidence. I spent many years of my youth feeling awkward, ugly and unwanted by my peers. I hung out with my fellow nerds in school, and while I was accepted there, it wasn’t enough because I wasn’t happy with myself. Cosplay has helped turn that around. It’s helped me be more comfortable not only with my outward appearance, but more confident emotionally. It’s hard not to feel confident strutting around in Poison Ivy’s leaves or wearing your best pair of ass-kicking Black Canary boots.
Bill Doran: Cosplaying is my prefered method of being social. I got into it because my friends started doing it and it looked like a blast! Nowadays I can’t imaging going to a convention and NOT cosplaying, that’s just crazy. I also am into it for the technical challenge of building costumes and props. Building props is now my professional career and making new and exciting costumes keeps me on the bleeding edge of costume fabrication technique. Lastly, I really enjoy taking up the visage of my favorite characters from video games. Who does not want to be Commander Sheppard and look like a total badass?
Defining why I’m passionate is a lot harder than just “doing”. I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, and wanted to sew (I make most of my costumes except a few) and cosplay lets me do that. I get to bring my favorite characters to “Life” so to speak, and seeing others (especially kids) light up with joy, makes it worth all the trouble I put into everything.
Cosplay helped me make more friends than I ever had in high school, junior high, and elementary school combined. In other words, I was bullied and a social outcast. It’s let me be the best me possible and learn skills that I can constantly grow upon and has helped me focus on what I want to do with my life far better than Any class or school has.
Katarina Meowsir: So that’s why I’m passionate about it, it’s sort of a huge part of my life, and I honestly can not picture living a life without costumes because that’s just boring! I can be me, every day of the week, but for those three days during a convention? I can embody some of my favorite characters, and it’s so much fun.