Trigger Warning: body dysphoria conversation. Potentially triggering if recovering from an ED.
I was telling a couple coworkers about my vacation at Gen Con. Many of them aren’t self proclaimed “geeks” like me which is fine. One coworker made a comment asking “why do I cosplay?”. She genuinely doesn’t know enough about cosplay to know why someone would want to dress up as a fictional character and parade around a convention hall. It’s a legitimate question especially because she had never heard of the term “cosplay”. I thought about my answer and this made me want to devote a whole post as to not only why I cosplay, but how it improved my self worth.
When I was in middle school, I was increasingly aware of how much I hated my body. When I say hate I meant I truly despised the way I looked in the mirror. Specifically I would stare at my stomach and pinch the rolls of fat. Wearing shorts used to make me uncomfortable because my legs would be out for the world to see. A swimsuit would make me feel even worse. I didn’t know if I would ever come out of this dark hole and appreciate my body the way it is.
After graduating from high school, my insecurities were better, but I had a long way to go before I felt “good” about myself. It wasn’t until my first Convergence back in 2013 where me and a friend “cosplayed” as Mario & Luigi. It was a simple cosplay I purchased from Ragstock. However, once I put it on, I felt cute and could walk around and do what I pleased. I received some warmhearted compliments on my cosplay (without the creepiness). Once Convergence was over, I knew I wanted to do more with cosplay and challenge myself to take on other characters.
Some of the characters I cosplayed were slightly revealing. Even the Wonder Woman cosplay I wore to Gen Con this year if worn at the wrong angle could potentially show a little bit of a butt cheek. What empowered me though was the control I had to show what I wanted to show on my terms. It was my body and I could conceal or reveal it if I chose to. This conscious choice I made is what has allowed me to fall in love with myself and the way I am. Additionally, cosplay exposed me to other body types and seeing other people rocking what they have, creates this open and accepting environment.
I owe a lot to cosplay and how it’s changed my way of thinking. Every time I know I’m attending a convention, my head starts spinning as to potential cosplay options. Once I settle on an idea, I become elated and determined to make the cosplay work for me. My relationship with my body is one I will always have to work on, but I’m at a much better place mentally and all it took was to dress up as Harley Quinn.