I've decided to create a group of posts exploring things about cosplay. I'm no expert (can someone be an expert cosplayer?) but I have been doing it for a while, so even though I may not be an expert in sewing or whatever, I still feel like there may be some things I can impart to you about my world. Feel free to add things in the comments section, so that we as a community can build up posts that are helpful for people who stumble upon. Not to mention that I'm always learning new things too!
I wanted to start this segment with a very simple question, but one that I find very important:
Why do you want to cosplay?
At first it might not seem like much, but it can become a loaded question if you think about it.
Cosplay is a very unique hobby, especially in a place like North America (where I'm from). The most we get dressed up for is Hallowe'en and perhaps themed parties. Especially since cosplaying brings to the forefront images of Japanese culture which tend to become lost on North American audiences. I remember when I first started cosplaying, every so often my parents would bring up things like hentai (Japanese animated porn, though what they had in mind specifically was the tentacles). So you can expect to not be met with understanding when expressing a foreign fandom openly. Just think about the elementary school yard when you were a kid. Those who were different were usually picked on weren't they?
That's another thing: parents. I know many cosplayers who struggle in pursuing their fandoms with them hanging over them. It's a childish hobby. You'll grow out of it. It's expensive. What are you going with your future. I've heard these things repeated more than once. For some of you, perhaps you'll come to disagreements with your parents. It's okay. If it's what's making you happy then why shouldn't you pursue it? When this comes up with my own family I usually make comparisons with people my age. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. However cosplay is a creative pursuit that utilizes many skills and creates a positive space where I can be proud of myself and my work. Whether you smoke, drink, or whatever doesn't necessarily undermine you. Heck, lots of cosplayers have parties in their hotels where they do just that I imagine. What I mean is, cosplay isn't necessarily a destructive hobby like your parents may think. At least not as destructive as frequent parties teenagers are prone to have.
I started cosplaying when I was around thirteen or fourteen. It's obviously a time when you're exploring who you are and are faced with crazy hormones and confidence issues! I am 100% convinced that cosplay is an outlet that has let me grow in discovering who I am in a safe environment. I can wear clothes that I wouldn't dream of wearing normally to explore facets of who I am that otherwise I wouldn't be comfortable exploring. Through cosplay I have learned makeup techniques and styling that help me look like a respectable female in my society. I've gained the confidence to imagine how to make gigantic arms and actually go through with the project. I can make my dreams into reality.
But most of all, I have found people of a like mind. I have found wonderful friends.
So while cosplay is, yes, incredibly expensive and, yes, isn't necessarily a typical hobby I ask you again why you want to do it and I ask you to hold on to it.
Is it because you love the theatrical aspect of becoming a character? Perhaps you love making costumes, clothing and props! Maybe it's the stunning way people can change how they look with makeup. Maybe it's your love of the fandom and the people in it. It feels nice when people recognize your hard work, so perhaps you love the spotlight.
Whatever it is, this emotion you have towards cosplaying is what will either have you participating in it for years or have it be just a small blip in your life. It will keep you from going insane when your friends at school may not understand or make fun of you for it, or when your parents don't approve. When you need to remind yourself why you take on more work or die at the gym to get that sweet-ass flat belly.
If you don't know why you want to cosplay, I think that's fine too. Because the more you do it, the more you enjoy it and that's all that matters.