The True Meaning Of "Cosplay"
By Titania Cosplay
My cosplay journey began about four years ago. I was a sixteen-year-old girl in art school and not sure about what to do with my life. I first heard of cosplaying in my first year of high school and went to my very first con on 2013. Not many people know this, but I tied my red hair in two ponytails, grabbed a random blue skirt and a black coat from my closet and wore my very first “cosplay”. It wasn’t very accurate and I just got everything from my closet, but I had so much fun in it.
Later that year I finally did my official first cosplay, Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail. That one wasn’t very accurate either: my grandma made the pants, I wore my real hair and grabbed a last minute prop before I left – a fake sword my brother happened to have in his room. Looking back, I should have just gone without a sword – but I met so many people, took so many photos and was happy in a way I hadn’t been in a long time. Erza was the reason I started watching anime in the first place – a friend told me I looked like her a lot, so I gave Fairy Tail a try. And my cosplay nickname hasn’t been the only thing influenced by her.
You see, before I started cosplaying I was incredibly insecure. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and was trying to recover from depression. In my mind, I wasn’t just worthless: I had no talent, no purpose, and nothing that made me truly happy. And the happiness I found on cosplaying wasn’t necessarily based on just being able to portray different characters and “live different lives”. It was creating something out of nothing, developing new skills and combining hobbies I’ve always loved – modeling, art, watching movies and T.V. shows, playing with Photoshop - into useful skills. Even when I didn’t make my costumes, I felt like I always learning – about make-up, being photographed or photo editing, there was always something I took out of every single costume. Cosplaying became always having something that I’d like to be doing, and feeling like I wasn’t just wandering through life with no drive.
Of course, being in the cosplay community for four years, things weren’t always this smooth. After a while, I started to feel like I wasn’t good enough. Like there were all these amazing and talented cosplayers all over the world and I fell too short. I started to feel that I wasn’t pretty enough, that my body type didn’t match the characters’, and that I lacked the skills necessary to be big in this world.
It took me a while to realize that buying some costumes didn’t make me a failure. Using cheap materials didn’t make me a worse cosplayer. And comparing myself to others wouldn’t bring me any happiness. So I started making costumes for myself. For photoshoots, for groups, for cons. Not for contests, not for likes or comments but for the thing that got me into cosplaying in the first place: real, deep love for the characters I portray. And this might sound cheesy or exaggerated, but it is true. I love every single character I cosplayed and plan to cosplay, and I have stories for all of them. With my second cosplay, the Woobat gijinka, I took part in my first contest. With Edward Elric I got second place at another contest on a local con. As Envy, I met one of my favorite cosplayers. As Erza, I have gotten an incredible group, formed not only by Fairy Tail cosplayers, but of friends that are still around and that became some of the most important people in my life. Yet, my latest cosplays mean just as much to me. I’ve recently cosplayed some of my favorite characters, not only from childhood, but characters I admired through the years, from Disney princesses to evil witches: and I have the most amazing memories attached to those costumes as well.
Some of my first cosplays vs. my most recent ones
I’ve grown so much since I started this hobby. And believe me, it is not like any other that I have had. It swallows you whole and it becomes part of, not only your life, but yourself. It made me whole when I was broken, gave me hope when I had none. Cosplay gave me something to fight for, as ridiculous as this sound, when I was at my worst; and when I got to be my best, I got to enjoy in a whole different way.
It took me a while to understand what cosplay truly is about, but I think I finally do. It’s not about body type, or skills, or gender, or skin color, or money. It’s about feeling, love, friendship, and happiness. It’s about finding your best self and embracing it. Putting on the best self you can be, no matter what costume you have on top of that… That is the kind of cosplaying that will bring you happiness and make you proud.
So, if you’re thinking of getting into this hobby: do it. Dive in, head first, and enjoy it as much as you possibly can. Just remember to be kind and proud of yourself: you are more than enough.
Article by Titania Cosplay