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 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.
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.