So I recently came to a pretty substantial realization about myself. I cosplay in order to show my love for a character or series. I cosplay to bring them to life and meet others that share my passion. I always thought that those were the reasons I did this hobby. But I came to the realization that sometimes cosplay is important for a person’s emotional state and well-being outside of the costume.
I came out of a relationship last May that left me in a very mentally-damaged state. My ex was very shallow and made me feel ugly and overweight, which heavily damaged my self-image and made me shy away from skin-bearing costumes. I never wanted to cosplay girls that showed their midriff or upper thighs because I didn’t want to look even uglier to him or make him feel embarrassed to be with me. So I stuck to costumes that made me feel more comfortable and ones that somewhat complimented him, while still being from series I was passionate about.
Following the breakup, I lost about 30 pounds due to depression and the unbalanced emotional state I was in. However, while being single, guys would come to me and tell me about how pretty I was, which I shrugged off. I felt unattractive and overweight. But I started to talking to a guy that made me feel absolutely beautiful. He would always tell me how pretty I was and perfect I looked. It started to sink in and made me feel much better, though my self-confidence was still low.
My focus was not on costuming at this time. I was focused on bettering myself outside of costuming and working on my confidence. However, Dragon*Con was not far away and I wanted a new costume. I had grandeur plans for this elaborate SWTOR costume, but due to time constraints and lack of motivation, I ended up unable to make it. I had an alternative, but it would require a ton of confidence and guts to pull off. Was it completely my choice? Of course. I had ideas I would go about to make it more comfortable for myself, but sadly, they didn’t work out (like corset training a week prior).
Dragon*Con came around and I debuted a costume I NEVER thought I would have the guts to wear. But I love Star Wars: the Old Republic, and I wanted to show my love for the game. So I did my first costume with body paint (full body paint, even!) and skimpy armor. Did I do it for attention? Absolutely not. I won’t argue that I didn’t want a little attention, but considering the outfit, I was more scared than anything else. So I made this battle bikini because I didn’t have time to make the armor set I wanted. I sucked it up. I wanted a new costume and this was what I decided to go with, regardless of how much negative attention I got.
Was I terrified? Absolutely, but I put it on anyway. 3 hours of self-applied makeup (and help from a friend for my back!) later, I went to the con floor and hung out with friends. I had a few photos here and there, but was mostly happy that I got to do so many new things (body paint, armor, bikini-style costume, video game cosplay, etc). I found myself covering my stomach here and there because of how naked I felt, but was still happy to be representing SWTOR. My friends would come up to me and compliment me on the weight loss I had achieved, which was really comforting. I had noticed the change a bit, but apparently not as drastic as others .I felt better about myself after Dragon*Con and felt more comfortable about showing a bit more skin in costume.
But the big realization was why I really did the costume. I didn’t realize this at the time, and it wasn’t my original intention, but I came to the realization that this costume was a celebration of myself. Of my progress with weight loss (despite the means at the time) and my increase of self-worth. This costume was proof that I could overcome a fear and was a celebration of becoming comfortable in my own skin for the first time since I was 16 (I’m 22 now). I finally was out of the toxic relationship I was in and saw myself as someone who had gained confidence despite the odds. This was me sticking it to the man and reassuring myself that I can do anything, regardless of what others think, for my love of a character. Of course I get the “she’s fat” and “pig disgusting” comments on the internet, but you know what? I celebrated me. I did this for myself and for my self-confidence, not for others. In the end, that’s what matters. Your happiness. If for any second you sacrifice your happiness to please strangers, you’re doing something wrong. Make sure you are happy to cosplay what you want. Don’t let others dictate your choices and actions.
So my point is that you should NEVER believe the negative things said about you. You are gorgeous. You’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone bring you down for any reason. Celebrate you and your passion by doing what you love.
Express yourself. Love yourself.
I so wish I’d managed to catch up with you or knew you were going with this costume 🙂 My tropey SWTOR toon is a Talon wannabe (Tykhi on The harbinger)and I had started an Imperial Dancers costume (tiny tiny plastic squares, *twitch*) to wear to D*C but didn’t have the inspiration to finish 🙁 I’d have met up and we could have been wonderfully clashy being green and red. it would have been fun finding a background 😉 (btw, the yellow of the Imp Dancers outfit makes legs look like corn fed turkey, just saying. It ain’t flattering in real life.)
I had though the same amazing reception to my Darth Talon at the exact same event (I wore her on the Sunday) and was amazed. The reception was wonderful, not gropey or leechy just a lot of admiration for a costume that clearly took a lot of hard work. I also had my fair share of stupid comments though- my Black Widow was deemed not hot by some dudes who thought it a good idea to list who was hot and who wasn’t on a photo of our group which was supposed to simply be fun. Nope I have no boobs but Natasha has multiple facets and I was action Natasha. I have passed the costume on to an amazing ScarJo lookalike as it suits her so much! Not jealous of the girls who got called hot, just annoyed people think it an appropriate thing to comment on.
So I suppose I’m saying Go Girl, I share a lot of your experiences (currently dealing with stress induced anorexia (it’s pretty obvious from my most recent facebook photos- it’s hard admitting it but ignoring it feels like lying) and dealing with suddenly getting a lot of gratuitous looks and comments and still dealing with the negative comments.
Also love your costume 🙂 Not kidding about wishing we’d been able to meet up 🙁 I was Shae Vizla for a while on Saturday 🙂 I collapsed at the end of the parade from my Liara costume (dehydration and exhaustion) so that was a more comfy option!
(I don’t think I’ll be able to make another D*C because I live in NZ and the flight is a killer on my health and I really relied so much on family and friends for such a selfish thing. But if I do we *need* to to a shoot together 🙂 )