To be perfectly honest, I have actually never participated in cosplay. Perhaps on a lesser degree, if you count doing musical theater and drama, as well as fully getting into Halloween and going all out with my costumes.
Even though I've never gone to Comic-Con or the likes (it's on my bucket list), I have a ton of friends who do and I have a full appreciation for cosplay. The energy and dedication it takes to make these elaborate costumes, as well as the appreciation for your favorite characters is an impressive art.
For some people, cosplay has meant more than just dressing up and pretending...it has saved their lives and made them better people. Check out the following stories of some truly phenomenal cosplayers and get ready to be inspired.
It Helped Me Let Go of My Body Dispmorphia
Molly McIsaac had never felt truly comfortable in her body. She would often cry on the floor of her closet and wish that she could wake up in another person's body.
McIsaac says she's always considered herself a geek, and loved dressing up in various cosplay costumes. She said that she would try to dress up as characters who wore costumes with more coverage. In the back of her mind, she still felt judged for her size.
In 2010, McIsaac was asked to be a part of a group of women who were to dress up like the Female Furies at the San Diego Comic-Con. She was asked to dress as Knockout, which McIsaac was immediately excited for.
There was only one problem: Knockout's costume consists of a skintight leotard thong with boots. That's not exactly the most covering outfit. At first McIsaac felt really uncomfortable. But as she saw the appreciation and love in people's eyes, she realized for the first time that she was sexy!
This kickstarted her journey to accepting herself. She credits cosplaying with saving her life.
It Helped Me Stand Up to Bullies
MissOdango never really felt like she fit in. She loved having colorful hair, wearing ribbons, and dressing up when going to high school.
For this reason, she was relentlessly bullied for being different. They would leave terrible notes in her locker, as well as razors, telling her to kill herself. It got so bad to the point where she began to make herself throw up to be sent home and she began taking OTC depression pills.
One day MissOdango decided to bleach her hair and adopt Sailor Moon as her new persona. She dressed like Usagi, stopped responding to her bullies, and smiled at them. This angered them even more.
Eventually, MissOdango switched to an alternative school and graduated. She began to take cosplaying very seriously, also realizing her true potential.
Sailor Moon helped her become brave and strong. She often asked herself "What would Usagi do?" which helped her overcome her bullies instead of listen to them.
It Helped Me Feel Included When I Was Shunned for Having Sickle Cell Disease
When Jermaine Steele began to suffer from Sickle Cell Disease, he felt that people couldn't really relate, and therefore shunned him.
He discovered a love for anime and manga, and became an Otaku. He felt saved with this transition. His family found it odd and disagreed with his passion, but he feels it made him a stronger Otaku and person in general.
He thanks being an Otaku for getting him out of his depression. He was also able to meet friends that were fans of Otaku as well, finally making him feel like he belonged.
Even if you don't understand dressing up differently, having wacky colored hair, or anything else that isn't the norm, it isn't necessary to judge or bully. Be kind to people, treat them the way you wish to be treated, and have fun in your life.
Perhaps the people who don't understand need to spend a day in your shoes. Or rather, costume, I should say.