Cosplay, short for costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name, basically, playing dress up to the extreme. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centred on role play and LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.
Favourite sources include manga, anime, comic books, video games, and films. Any entity from the real or virtual that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms and it is not unusual to see genderbent cosplays, where a character could be male in the series and is made female by the fanbase, or genders being switched , with women playing male roles and vice versa. There is also a subset of cosplay culture centred on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness or revealing costumes noted sexy cosplayers include Monika Lee, Yaya Han and Jessica Nigri.
Cosplay is something I’ve seen build confidence in people who would otherwise remain shadows in the corner, it takes the socially awkward and builds their self confidence to the point where they no longer care that they don’t fit in, that its more than ok to be an individual and to be as strange as you want to be. I’ve seen people who feel ashamed of their interests flourish and become proud of who they are what they like. Its something they pour their whole heart and soul into and it shows, cosplay gives them a chance to be something they’ve always wanted to be; happy to be who they are.
Cosplay also gives people a chance to escape reality for a little while, gives them a chance to be the superhero they grew up adoring or to be the anime character they think is beautiful and in turn, they feel empowered and beautiful, even if societies standards say otherwise. Cosplay is about taking fiction and turning it into reality, living out dreams and scenarios that help you forget about all the problems the real world has to offer, even if its just for a little while, it allows you to be whoever you want to be, while embracing who you really are and who you want to be, all in all it makes for a satisfying and refreshing experience, a holiday away from yourself with yourself.
As cosplay is an art, a lot of work goes into making very complex and bizarre costumes, there are cosplayers who makes professions out of making and modelling costumes, they’re even endorsed by companies like Ubisoft, for example, Jessica Nigri does genderbent Assassin’s Creed cosplays to promote the games and in turn in paid by Ubissoft for it. These are costumes she makes if not completely by herself, with the aid of other cosplayers who went done the path of creating costumes for people who can’t do it themselves.
Cosplay is something that brings people together and inspires self confidence in those who would otherwise be isolated and afraid to express their interests and passions, its something that’s fun to do and it’s an open community where anyone and everyone is welcome, so why not give it a try? You may be surprised about how much fun you’ll have.