Jan 11, 2019
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What is Cosplay? – The Real Answer You Want to Hear

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Photo courtesy of LeRoyal Tutt  (Whoville) @royaltnoy


What is cosplay?

The dictionary answer is that cosplay (costume play) is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. blah blah blah

Actually that’s the Wikipedia answer, but you get the point.

While this is technically true, there is a deeper level to the subculture that is beloved by so many of us. More than anything, cosplay is about friendship. You will meet some amazing people through your dress-up journey. Friends that you would not give up for anything.

Here are a few points that prove: Cosplay = Friendship.

Cosplay makes introductions easier

The Incredibles Family Photo Black cosplay
The Incredibles Family | Photo courtesy of Shaun Jones @comicshaunjones

When we were children, it was effortless to be friends with someone new. You just walk up to them say, “Hi, my name is Coconut, want to play with my toy?”. Thirty minutes later you are inseparable best friends. But as an adult you wouldn’t dare walk up to a stranger and say “Hi, my name is John, want to play with my toy?”. Our adulthood minds are way too corrupted and malicious-thinking to receive that statement as an innocent invitation.

Being dressed up somehow removes the fear and hesitation of walking up to a person you have never met before and introducing yourself. Because you are both in costume, the ice is already broken, you already have something in common. The conversation starts at hello.

You compliment each other on your cosplays. laugh a little bit. Joke a little bit. Then you take a selfie together. Tag each other on Instagram and Facebook. Next thing you know, you are married with a kid.

Cosplay makes hanging out possible.

How many times have you tried to set up a dinner gathering or go out for drinks with friends only to have 50% of them, or all of them, not be able to make it? It’s hard to find meetup times that match with everyone’s schedule. Especially in today’s world and how busy we all are. But there is always space, time, and opportunity at a convention to connect.

One of my favorite past-times to do at cons is find a nice eatery nearby, preferably overlooking a scenic waterscape or natural art of some kind. It’s an amazing atmosphere to catch up on what’s been happening in each other’s lives. Share moments of vulnerability over hot sake. Recount stories about the good times and laugh at jokes that would sound crazy to a normal bystander on the street. It feels good to just hang out.

antisocial spiderman_ urban cosplayers - black cosplay
Photo courtesy of anti-social spiderman @anti_social_spiderman

Cosplay makes lifelong companions out of everyday strangers

Bill Johnson and Coconut Jacobs  cosplay batwing  of batman and Velma of Scooby doo
Bill Johnson (Batwing) @uptownbill007 and
Coconut Jacobs (Velma – Scooby doo)

The people around you matter. If you want to try cosplay but don’t think you can, then just start hanging around other cosplayers. It’s a proven fact that environment is everything. If you are around geeks, you become a geek whether you want to or not. You create a bond with each other, your hobby lives become intertwined. You start commenting on each other’s social media more and become vested in each other’s lives. You chat to make sure each other will be at the next up-coming convention.

I have some people in my life whom I consider good friends but we only meet when we are in costume. I know their kids’ names and how much they spent on that new car. They know when I went on my last vacation and what kind of wine I drink most. However, we have never seen each other in normal clothes. Because normal is boring, duh.

Heck, some of my cosplay friends, I don’t even know what their real faces look like. Never seen them without a mask or theatrical makeup before. But I know them when I see them at a con.

Cosplay allows you to enjoy your life

Some of you have jobs you hate. I mean, want to bang your head on the desk – type of hate. Sit in your car, in the parking lot of your job for 30 minutes just trying to muster up the courage to go in – type of hate. Have to put food in your mouth so you don’t cuss at a co-worker because your mouth is full and you can’t talk – type of hate. I’m not confirming or denying that I have done any of these, but just know, I wholeheartedly understand.

Yeah, being an adult sucks at times but cosplay allows you to let go of all that negativity for a few days. Transform yourself into someone else and enjoy the submersion with other like-minded people. Sometimes that little bit of escapism is what you need to recharge your life force before you go back to the soul-sucking work of being a grown-up.

Malcolm Jones _ Black Panther  urban cosplayers black cosplay
Malcolm Jones (the smote Black Panther in the middle) @bossjones

Cosplay makes every experience so much better.

Have you ever went to a convention and just walked around aimlessly alone?

I have. It’s not that fun.

Something that could have been a blast, turns out to be a bust because you didn’t have friends to share the experience with. What is the point of going to a panel and you don’t have anyone to discuss it with afterwards? Shoot, you can’t even get properly shocked and awed by the 18+, 11pm show of cosplay burlesque if you are solo. Sharing the cosplay experience together, makes you develop a tighter kinship.

What is cosplay black cosplayers poc cosplay
Photo courtesy of Shawshank Props @shawshank.porps
with Francesca Taylor @francheezy24_7

You stop just being friends and become a family. A #cosfamily.


I want to hear from you

What are your experiences with cosplay friendships?

tell me a story. I like stories.


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