How to start cosplaying
Step One: Buy a costume. Wear it. Done.
I’m just kidding—that’s obviously the gist of the whole thing, but cosplaying is slightly different from wearing a costume for Halloween, for example.
In a way, it’s a lot more terrifying. Wearing costumes for Halloween is a socially accepted custom and nobody really thinks twice about it. Wearing a cosplay for a convention or a photo shoot is a little bit out of the norm, so naturally people will tend to be curious.
Step number one? Try not to worry about what other people think. Cosplay is an immersive, fun way to celebrate your fandoms, connect with other fans, and feel good about yourself. People might judge, but you aren’t wearing a cosplay for them. You’re wearing it for yourself.
Chezza story time: I had a friend who didn’t seem to understand when I started cosplaying. They laughed when I said it was important to me. As I became more well-known around the city, they changed their tune, but I eventually decided I didn’t need that lack of support in my life. And neither do you.
Step number two? Do it for love. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of what’s popular, what’s well known, and what’s going to get you follows on Instagram. Sure, you can cosplay characters to get likes, but don’t forget to sprinkle in some character love among all that. At the end of the day, you’re doing this because it’s FUN. If it ever gets stressful or makes you miserable, you need to step back and re-evaluate why you’re doing it in the first place (it might sound silly, but this happens to all of us).
Chezza story time: One of the first cosplays I did was Rorschach from Watchmen, simply because he’s one of my favourite anti-heroes of all time. It wasn’t a popular cosplay of mine, but I didn’t and still don’t care—because I COSPLAYED RORSCHACH, and that’s just bad ass.
Step number three? Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you buy your cosplay, don’t feel bad standing next to someone who handmade theirs. If you crafted your cosplay, don’t compare it to other handmade cosplays or other people cosplaying that character. This rings true for society as well as for cosplay—there’s NO POINT comparing yourself to other people. Feel good about yourself in your own right. Do your own thing and let others do theirs.
Chezza story time: It’s rare for me to wear a cosplay to a convention and be the only person wearing it. I always enjoyed making a game out of finding same cosplays and taking selfies with them! Besides, if I truly wanted to be different, I’d do a weird mashup that made the cosplay unique.
Step number four? Be open to meeting new people. If you choose the convention route, you’ll be surrounded by people and cosplayers constantly. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and strike up conversations. Compliment other cosplayers on their creations. Networking sounds so dated, but it truly does make a difference and might introduce you to some lifetime friends. Make sure to be genuine and to show interest in others, as well as pride in your own cosplay—nobody goes to a convention simply to admire you (unless you’re very lucky, I guess!), so be sure to give as good as you get.
Chezza story time: I’m a weird extrovert/introvert mix, so I’m fairly comfortable in crowds of people and can strike up conversations with strangers. I did this at the first few conventions I attended. Five years later, some of the best friends in my life came from those moments of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and attempting to make new friends. They don’t all turn out that way, but the ones that do are worth it.
Step number five? Stay hydrated and wear deodorant. (If only because you want to wear your cosplay again and a stinky bodysuit does nobody any favours.)
Easy peasy, right?