Hey. It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. As I’m getting closer to my wedding, a lot of thoughts have been on my mind; mostly of events that lead to this point. Knowing that a lot of those moments involved cosplay or conventions, I figured I’d share what’s in my noodle. This may be sloppily written, as it is mostly stream of conscious stuff.
When I started cosplaying in 2006 (bruh), I was a 16 year old black girl in high school who wore Tripp pants, listened to Linkin Park and wore a Naruto headband. I loaded up on art classes and extracurriculars to keep from doing sports, and I wasn’t a big fan of Spirit Week. Needless to say; I wasn’t extremely popular. I had a group of maybe five or six friends (all underclassmen) who sat with me in the stairwell reading manga and singing Japanese music at the top of our lungs.
There were pretty much only six of us like us in the entire school. We had an anime club and one day one of the members asked if we knew what Anime USA was. I had no idea; but it sounded exciting. He explained that it was basically a three day vacation dedicated to anime, Japanese music, and dressing up as your favorite characters. Hearing that made me want to burst out singing “Asterisk” while running in a slow mo montage with my five other friends. I immediately went home and begged my mom to take me, and finally she agreed to let me go on the last day of the con. I had decided that I wanted to be Inuyasha (thankfully no pictures of this exist anymore) so we spent a weekend working on the costume together. I used my allowance to buy all the materials, including a cheap wig, plastic sword and a “caveman” necklace from Party City. Finally; I was ready.
The costume itself was amazing (my mom is a great seamstress), but my wig looked like a dead animal, and everything else was something to be desired. It didn’t matter though. I was more excited in that moment than I could ever be embarrassed now. I dragged my mom to the dealer’s room and panels. A few people actually took pictures of me. Finally I found a full group of Inuyasha cosplayers. The Inuyasha in the group looked like she had stepped out of the anime. Everything about her was perfect. Me today
would have been afraid to approach her even now, but guess what 16 year old me did? Went right up to them and asked if I could take a picture with them. They said sure, and that had been one of the coolest moments in my teenage life. Finally I had found a group of people other than my friends, who loved the same things I did. From then on; I tried to go to any conventions I could convince my mom to take me to. We started getting rooms and she would bring crock pots of food and a cooler for my friends and I to eat throughout the weekend. When I turned 18, she gave me a sewing machine and told me I was on my own. Luckily I had picked up the basics through sewing with her, the rest I would learn by combing the internet of its limited resources. I continued goings to cons without my mother (cramming myself into rooms with 7 or more people), and making costumes on my own.
At first it didn’t bother me, and then it did. It really did. I felt as though my safe space within this all inclusive community was starting to feel like high school again. I found myself jealous, angry and at times; publicly rude. How dare these younger, prettier, more talented girls intrude on my safe zone. Faced with my own fears of growing older, I became an outright asshole. For a long time I was depressed, and angry, and depressed and angry again. It was a
combination of a toxic living environment and feelings of self doubt. Finally; my boyfriend decided that he wanted to be my husband, and we got engaged. Not long after that, we were house hunting. Suddenly trying to finish four or five costumes for a con turned into finishing two, maybe half assing a third if I felt like it. I enjoyed taking my time and making a cosplay build an adventure between my fiance and I (RIP Senketsu Fashion Week) rather than rushing them. I was scheduling wedding appointments instead of conventions. I began getting to what I wanted, when I felt like it and you know what? The people who have supported me from the start, continued to be there.
I TOLD Y’ALL THAT WAS LONG AND FAKE DEEP AS HELL. NO SYMPY. Seriously though; thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and for coming along on my journey. You all help make up the pieces of this community that make me who I am, and I appreciate that.
Photo Credits (in no particular order): AshB Images, Maze Studio, M9 Cosplay, KBV Photography & Cosplay, TheBigTog Photography, Daniel Lin Photography, Coolsteel27, Obscura Vista, Photosnxs.
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