Many of us already know that the power of cosplay should not be underestimated. Not only does it allow us to fuel our geekdom for our favorite characters, but also to express ourselves in an incredibly creative way.
Yet for some, the art of cosplay harnesses an even deeper power. Like for Kristen Lanae for example, a 24-year-old woman from Minneapolis.
For a couple of years now, Kristen has donned detailed costumes and intricate makeup to transform herself entirely into some of the world's most iconic female characters. And in doing so, she wonderfully utilizes the art form as a weapon that she wields against her own personal demons, in particular her low self-esteem. By subverting her own reality through costume, in turn, she revels in her ability to gain confidence, make new friends and also to inspire others to get creative!
Take a look at some of her phenomenal transformations below!
Since beginning her cosplaying journey, Kristen has dressed up as over 20 characters, all from a varied mix of TV shows, video games and movies.
She's so good that a great number of top photographers have been very keen to work with her, providing her with detailed backdrops to pose in and making her art even more convincing.
And in the process, Kristen has seen how her own confidence has grown:
"I can say that cosplay has helped me a ton with my confidence. I have always been very quiet and shy, but when I am in costume I come alive. I would say it's because of all the positive reactions I get in costume."
Understandably, she has received a great deal of attention all over the world. In particular, Kristen admits that she garners the most love at conventions and her interactions with people have helped her begin to gradually overcome her crippling shyness:
"People come up and ask to take pictures of me and tell me they love what I have created. It's a really great feeling and has helped boost my self-esteem a lot. Being in costume is also always a great conversation starter. As someone who is shy and not good at approaching others, this has been really helpful for me to get a conversation going and make new friends and contacts in the process."
And she has certainly made new friends and contacts! Over the past two years, her Twitter following has sky-rocketed and she now boasts over 5,000 Instagram followers who keep an eye on her every cosplaying move.
In addition to showcasing particular looks sported by her favorite characters, Kristen also loves to recreate famous scenes from legendary movies. Like below, for example, in which she places herself right in the middle of a scene from horror flick Scream.
Or in this terrifying Jaws-inspired image:
As you can see, Kristen loves to play around with different characters and scenes that pull her in a myriad of different directions, allowing her to step outside of her comfort zone, as well as to discover herself.
However, she does admit that it hasn't always been smooth sailing. In fact, as well as getting a lot of positive feedback, she has also had some uncomfortable encounters with fans in the past. She says:
"Most of the people who follow me on social media websites are really great to me. They are always super supportive and kind. When I have to go out in public most people, men and women, are just really curious as to what in the world you are doing. I get loads of people who just stop to watch and stare. However, there have been a few bad eggs I've had to deal with. I have had a handful of incidents at conventions where guys get a bit too touchy when taking a photo with me or have shouted perverted comments at me."
Thankfully, however, it seems conventions are becoming more aware of this and are putting forward measures to protect their wonderful cosplayers:
"In just this past year though, conventions are becoming really aware and proactive towards stopping behaviour like this. Most conventions you go to these days have giant signs posted everywhere saying 'Cosplay Is Not Consent' and list rules that you should follow towards people in costume."
What is it about cosplay that's so gripping?
Despite some bad experiences, Kristen still admits that she remains hooked on cosplay. She recounts her first visit to the Phoenix Comic-Con back in 2013, where she was exposed to the world for the first time and its kaleidoscope of opportunities. She says:
"I just have this passion to create things and always have. I happened to attend my first convention and saw cosplayers in person for the first time and was blown away. I had heard of cosplay, but never knew much about it. Seeing so many people dressed up in characters I love and having a great time doing it pretty much instantly hooked me into the hobby."
The chance to be creative was just too big to pass up and she soon realized that her passion went hand-in-hand with her love of photography and video games.
"By combining my love of art with video games and I was pretty much bound to be a cosplayer."
And we hope you continue to be one, Kristen! Keep up the fantastic work!