Cosplaying while pregnant.

So I’m speaking to this subject from a sort of bizarre place; I haven’t TECHNICALLY been IN cosplay while pregnant yet. I’m finding it difficult enough to just get a costume FINISHED at this point! But as (probably more than) half of cosplay for me is in the creation, I imagine I’m speaking a little more to that!

Cosplay has become delightfully broad and rich in recent years, a fact I’m proud of for individuals and the community alike. When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, in addition to the usual delight and trepidation, I felt strongly that I wanted to continue to enjoy cosplay with our growing family (and my growing belly).

 

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At 19 weeks, I shared this photo to celebrate one year to Star Wars VII! The sign says “This is me (and Padawan Baby) one year from The Force Awakens.”

 

My efforts in cosplay have slowed significantly in recent years, but I’ve never planned on stopping, and the expected change in my body was inspiring! When my first trimester became particularly tumultuous and difficult health-wise, I decided to resign from my teaching position early (a plan we had in place for when baby is born, anyway), and that left us with a significantly lowered income far sooner than we’d expected or planned for.

So besides just the illness associated with my early pregnancy, I faced guilt that came along with no longer providing for my household – who am I to make costumes (even if I felt well enough to do so) when there isn’t really any extra money around (and we still have all these things to buy for baby? Nursery planning and painting and stuff and THINGS)? So I didn’t. And I didn’t feel well enough to do so until late 2014, well into the second trimester.

 

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Baby boy at 24 weeks!

 

Fortunately, many health issues and some financial issues began to resolve and I felt a lot better, finding the energy to do more not only for my family and baby, but for me, too! But another problem presented itself… I was GROWING. So I typed in the funniest combination of search terms I can think of: pregnant cosplay costumes!

A lot of fun and famous results popped up, and one of my passions was included: Star Wars! Padme Amidala of course spends much of the third prequel sporting a cute bump, and her tan dress quickly went on my list. It was practical, didn’t require a massive amount of materials (unlike many of her other dresses!), and showed off that cute belly! Other suggestions came from friends, and while I don’t know if I’ll have time to tackle all of them (with just 10 weeks left now!), it was absolutely a fun conversation. So that’s in progress, and getting a little closer to completion every day (taking it in small, slow bites here!). I’m also still working on a White Mage costume that I’ve (embarassingly) had the materials for for over a year. Because it’s a big, loose robe, I can certainly wear it comfortably while bumpy (and comfort is a big consideration these days)!



I really AM hoping to get Padme all finished up before go time (in May), perhaps attend Starfest (and present the documentary I’ve been working on since last year!), but now into the third trimester, health and just general fatigue are getting to me again. As a woman with pre-existing high blood pressure, pregnancy can be a high-risk scenario for me and baby. Fortunately we’ve been able to manage it with good medical care and drugs, but that doesn’t stop a mama from worrying. I’m very lucky to have a great doctor (who says DO THINGS and GO PLACES!), a supportive husband, and a growing small business that is able to provide at least a little extra income! This whole experience has been exciting and (obviously!) life-changing, in so many ways it’s almost impossible to count!

Next up? Dressing up this little boy (at least until he has the wherewithal to say, “Stop it, Mommy!” Hehehehe.)!

A long time ago…

I hadn’t even been thought of 37 years ago today; not even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.  In fact, my parents had just recently met through friends of friends; in three months, my father would propose to my mother.  But they would go see Star Wars eventually and were (in hindsight, with much chagrin) Luke & Leia for Halloween that year (I found photographic evidence of this when I was a kid in Indiana – I am still hunting down that picture).

I would be born at the very end of 1980, after Empire came out.

In 1983, when Jedi premiered, I would be two and my sister would be one.  We would not have been interested even if we had been to see the third installment of the trilogy.

It would take me (personally) 31 more years to discover the universe that so many were enchanted with before I was even born.  Of course, I was exposed to and enjoyed the original trilogy on VHS and saw the prequels when they came out – I was a passing fan because who in all the annals of nerddom was not, when it came to Star Wars?  I was that child when young; I loved the Ewoks and the droids because they were cute and funny and I could relate.  I always liked Star Wars.  Passion came later.

It came in 2011.  Engaged and teaching my first elementary class of my professional career, my husband-to-be asked if I wanted to play Star Wars: The Old Republic with him.  I’d refused World of Warcraft on several occasions before because I didn’t care for the art style, but something in the cinematic previews of SWTOR caught my fancy.  So we played, together.  We played and played.  And I asked to see the original trilogy again (pre-special edition).  And then I asked to watch through all the prequels.  Now we watch every Christmas; it’s our tradition.

And I started reading.  I devoured the Old Republic books, limited as they were.  I moved on to the post-trilogy EU and read and read and read and read – I’m still reading.  I’m still playing.

In 2012, fiance and I got married.  Han and Leia were our wedding cake toppers.  Nick gifted his groomsmen with Star Wars themed cuff links.   And in lieu of a garter, I sported a blue temporary tattoo of the Jedi Order symbol on my upper thigh.

IMG_0529In 2013, I made a costume based on my Jedi Consular from SWTOR and wore it to Costume Con were I met Dragon Dronet, the Darth Malgus.

In 2014, husband and I watched all of the Clone Wars series.  I celebrated May the 4th with all the gusto I could at Starfest, where I got to hear the words of tie-in authors John Jackson Miller and Kevin J. Anderson.  I shook hands with Billy Dee Williams.  I stalk the internet daily for news of Episode VII.

I also got my first (and probably only) real tattoo – the Jedi Order symbol, of course – on my shoulder in 2014.

I am still new to a longstanding fandom.  I imagine I must feel every day the way the children and teens and 20-somethings of the 70s & 80s felt when Star Wars was new.  I bring my passion for Star Wars into my classroom.  I bring my love for it into my home in subtle yet literal ways.  I celebrate, because it is something to be celebrated.

I’m new, but welcomed into the community with open arms.  I’m welcomed as a female presence in a genre still hungry for women’s influence.  I’m welcomed as new blood.

So as late to this party as I am, I’ve still been welcomed, a welcome 37 years in the making – and still being made for this and future generations.

Welcome to a long time ago, a galaxy far, far away.

Super happy nerdy Star Wars May the 4th Be With You Starfest Weekend!

I had an absolutely stunning time at Starfest last weekend.  I’m still reeling over how wonderful it all was.  I had the privilege of listening to some amazing authors speak about their experiences not only as writers but as fans.  I had a lovely time in the costume contest, wearing my delightful Watchful Dress – I wonder if anyone recognized it?

I come back inspired as a costumer, writer, and even as a teacher.  I want to bring these experiences with me into a classroom, because I feel so inspired by them.

I’ve got a lot of things going, and every one of them is exciting.

Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story has its cosplayers!

In addition to my own crafting and cosplay, I’m currently producing a documentary focused on three Denver-area cosplayers.  I wanted to do this because there’s just SO much talent and passion in the mountain region that tends to get skipped over just because of the inconvenient location – despite the fact that we have one of the biggest comic cons in the country happening in June!

The cosplay contest – aka the Shindig – at Denver Comic Con will be the terminus of our project as we follow three cosplayers on their journey there.  From concept to competition, I wanted to capture what the creation process is like in our unique and wonderful community.

 Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story

The cosplayers who are participating have just been announced at the Juxtapose Facebook page, and you can keep up with the action there, at the website, or on Twitter.

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 5

I love this episode, too!  So much excitement and – yes indeed! – drama!

One of my favorite things was the emphasis that Yaya put on the performance aspect of their competition entry.  I love the idea of a big reveal for Riddle’s Alice/Meat dress.  Watching Yaya move in their skit rehearsal really demonstrated her dedication to the theatrics of a skit like this.

I’ve really been enjoying this aspect of cosplay coming out.  When I started, the first skit I did in 1999 was literally a bunch of people I’d met at the con that day in Sailormoon costumes and we were making it up as we were in line for the contest.  I’m so delighted in the change to these well-written and planned out skits with music, voice, even special effects!  That’s so exciting, and really just adds to much to what cosplay already is.

Everyone also really seemed to be pulling out all the stops and trying something new.  Building props with friends is some of the best cosplay-time I can remember, and I feel like Jessica, Holly & Rebecca really represented that.nausicaa-warrior02  One of my own proudest moments in cosplay was made possible only by the huge effort of my friends Jake & Tom who built Nausicaa’s mehve glider for me.

Seeing Chloe & Jesse find success with their costuming was heartwarming.  Jesse, who had worked so hard, put so much expertise and effort into his truly professional-level costume, was really gratified by his award – a position I really understand.  Though we persevere despite a lack of recognition or praise, there is a great feeling that comes from the accomplishment of getting an award.  We can know we’re good, but outside recognition means something different.  Maybe not better, but different.

Also hello Jessica & Holly as Riker and Picard, I mean come on.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Old and out of touch…

I’ve been feeling a little bit lately like I’m out of the cosplay loop.  Part of it is just that I WAS out of the loop… getting laid off and finishing grad school and being a first year elementary school teacher and a major 3 month illness will sort of do that to you.  Oh, and getting married and buying a house with said A youthful Beverly in 2002.new spouse, those things will all do it, too.  All of that stuff happened to me in the last three or four years, taking away my attention from a community that’s been changing in major ways, right under my nose.

I never really stopped cosplaying, but it did take a major back seat in my life for a while, and that’s left me reeling a little as I’ve come back to the scene full force.  It’s been good in a lot of ways: I’ve grown in both skill and attitude.  I’ve done more ‘traditional’ costuming, working from a number of different material sources (books, for instance).  I’ve gone to more kinds of cons than just anime cons – I have to say that was a great experience, and I’m really fond of Costume-Con and the scifi-fantasy con scene.

It took me until last year to get up a cosplay Facebook page.  It seems like that really became the thing to do while I was on my not-really-a-hiatus, and I totally missed the boat.  I was surprised to see it a point of contention that how many ‘likes’ you had was so important, as if it was a way to measure your worth as a cosplayer.  Then again, it sort of didn’t surprise me at all.  It was that way for years with photo comments at cosplay.com or comments and friends on Livejournal.  A new method to old madness?  Could be.

The word ‘professional’ is bandied about quite frequently.  There’s no hard and fast definition (because how can you have a hard and fast definition of any job in the arts?) but I love that people are making what they love into a career.  That’s a dream so many have, and I’m impressed that people are pursuing it with such passion.

A more mature Beverly in 2013.My attitude is really different now.  I think that had less to do with cosplay itself than with me learning more about who I am and what’s important to me…  and while cosplay is definitely important, I think I have a better idea of, well, HOW.  I learned a lot about my former bad attitudes – limiting others (at least in my head) by gatekeeping, keeping a list of what the criteria for “good” cosplay was, that sort of thing.  I had my eyes opened to how damaging those ideas are really only within the past year, and I’m proud to have broken those incredibly destructive attitudes.  Unfortunately, I still see it happening in the community, and I feel like teaching more positive attitudes is now a priority for me.  I guess it’s a throwback to my chosen career, education, and how much I want our community to be strong and welcoming.

Cosplay IS mainstream now, there’s no denying it.  When Conan O’Brian uses the word regularly on his show, it’s mainstream.  The definition of the word itself has changed in the last few years – cosplay is a synonym for costuming.  There’s no difference now.  Cosplay is nothing more than wearing a costume, whether you made it or bought it, whether it finds it’s source in Asian pop culture or American comics or English literature, whether it’s a customization or genderbend, whether the design is yours or someone else’s.  It’s all cosplay.  And it’s so beautiful.

I take it back.  I don’t feel out of touch –  I feel inspired.  I don’t feel old –  I feel rejuvenated.  I’m so proud to be part of a growing, learning community.

I’m so happy to be back.

 

Havin’ some feels and things, because reasons.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged (okay, a lot discouraged) by some of the attitudes brought out by Heroes of Cosplay, etc. First, criticisms from folks who haven’t seen it. That doesn’t seem fair to me. We say in elementary school that it’s only fair to refuse something after you’ve had a "no, thank you" portion. IOW, you gotta TRY it at least.

And then, from the folks who have seen it who are so negative about it. Maybe I’m just trying to stick to the old "if you don’t have anything nice to say" adage, but I also didn’t see it as negative. I saw it as real. It’s one of the most realistic reality TV shows I’ve seen in a long time.

I was SO in every one of those positions and perspectives at some point in my cosplay ‘career.’ Now, they’re not all healthy, but they’re part of the reality. I don’t understand hiding what it can really be like. People are saying that it is or is going to give cosplay a bad name, but I don’t understand that. To me, it wouldn’t be right to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns (besides the MLP cosplayers, hurhur ^.~) all the time – that would be a lie, and a great disservice to those who aren’t familiar with cosplay.

It’s like anything else. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. There’s conflict. There are amazing moments of synergy and cooperation. There’s anxiety and triumph. There’s disappointment. The show displayed some great positivity; it also showed some of the most negative reactions.

Yes, it was majorly about competitions. That’s going to carry a lot of dramatic weight and make for exciting television. Some people love to compete. I love to compete because I love to be on stage – I have a background in music and it shows. That’s MY perspective, but I would never expect everyone else’s perspective to be the same. The feeling of winning is gratifying. And I have had those moments where I was upset because I felt someone won who didn’t deserve it (I like to think that’s in my past, but who knows what the future will bring?). I’m so impressed that some of the participants in the show had the balls to come out and admit that! It’s an ugly feeling (for me at least), but it’s also real.

And the time and cast is limited. They can’t cover the hundreds of thousands of cosplayers out there. They have six (six? Did I count right?) [Edit: Nine.  I read the synopsis, durhur]. They have to be on coasts because that’s where TV happens. Maybe if this is successful, there will be more and better coverage. There are a lot of things that are the way they are because that’s how TV is made (I’ll tell you what, I wish there were more home decorating & landscaping shows in the US interior, I could sure use some help!). They can’t speak for everyone. But they took a good sample. Hopefully there will be more.

[Edit: It was identified that the cast is mostly white females, which of course doesn’t make for an appropriate cross-section.  I was referring to the sample of perspectives, attitude, and areas of expertise.   Food for thought.]

And at the last, some semantics. Those cosplayers ARE heroes. Each one of them, for their own reasons. But EVERY cosplayer is a hero. It takes guts to put on a costume. It takes heart to put yourself out there. And any one of those people who were on the show would tell you that every cosplayer – every level, every perspective – is a hero.

Maybe it’s me. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things, most of the time. It’s a perspective that works for me. But I’m also a realist, and that can still jive with the optimistic perspective. I can go back 15 years and see from that perspective, and see these important folks having to make the same difficult choices as I did, I can watch them feel anxious and triumphant and appreciated and afraid, just like I did – and do. That made it very positive for me, to know that all those feelings I had and still have are out there in other people’s brains. To know that my perspective was always valid. That makes the show itself valid. They did a great job.

[Again compiled from FB posts, etc.]

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.

You’re A Great Cosplayer

I was reading through my Facebook feed today and came across some frustration and anguish over the more unfortunate parts of cosplay.  We can be very critical of each other, and not in a healthy way.  It reminded me of a cute bit of text – originally aimed at the myths of motherhood – and I decided to write a similar piece about cosplayers and costuming.  Enjoy!

[Edit 12/11/2014: So I totally fixed the picture that went poof. My bad!]

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To the cosplayer wearing their own handmade costume: Awesome job! You worked really hard to create that costume, and you should feel proud of your work! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a purchased costume: It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there! Thank you for supporting costuming, as well as the person you bought the costume from! You’re a huge part of this community. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a wig: We suffer for our art! Wearing wigs isn’t always comfortable or easy, but they’re an amazing look. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer without a wig: Comfort is its own brand of style! That amazing style came out of your own head, how awesome is that! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent loads of cash: Being able and willing to make a financial investment is fantastic! It obviously means a lot to you to use quality materials to create your costumes. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent $20: Who cares if you’re broke! You’re rocking that costume like it’s worth a million bucks! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who doesn’t have a Facebook (or whatever): Look at all that extra time you have for making costumes, you lucky duck! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer holding a giveaway at (insert number here) followers: Thank you for supporting the community by making connections and sharing your tools and skills! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who makes their own props: What an incredible skill! Sculptor, painter, engineer… you do it all! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who leaves the props out: It’s pretty nice having hands free to eat a meal or go to the bathroom, right? You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with a highly detailed costume: Wow! That workmanship is incredible! You are clearly dedicated to your craft and willing to go above and beyond for craftsmanship. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a sexy costume: It takes a lot of courage to – literally, sometimes! – bare yourself to the world. Not to mention having to engineer something that could be rather gravity-defying! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with professional photos: Those photos are fantastic! It’s a worthwhile investment to capture all the hard work you’ve done. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with phone photos: Thank you for sharing the work you’ve done and treasuring the memories! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a big group: It’s so awesome to have friends to share your passion with. Let the good times roll! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the solitary cosplayer: Your dedication to your work and the costumes you love comes through everything you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

To ALL THE COSPLAYERS: Do what you love. Love what you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

 

Inspired by “You’re A Good Mom,” read it here: http://www.duchessoffork.com/2013/05/youre-a-good-mom/