Sunday, February 7, 2016

You Haven't Lived Until You've Cosplayed with a Group!

I figured it out, everyone! I figured out how to feel comfortable, as a woman, with cosplaying a male character!

First, it helps to be able to cover up your feminine face with a mask:

I bet Kylo Ren, too, found that his mask helped him to forget who he truly was and pretend to be someone else.
Second, let the character live in your head for a few weeks leading up to the con. And Kylo Ren (from the latest Star Wars movie) did. I found him compelling because his fate is so uncertain; will he return to the light side? Will he (Force forbid) die? The other new main characters are all going to be fine. I don't need to worry about the state of their souls. But with Kylo Ren, I spent the weeks since I saw the movie feverishly trying to figure out a way for him to get his redemption. I do this with characters a lot! That's why so many of my favorites are similar to each other (Itachi, Dirk, and Zuko all follow this pattern too).

Third, be willing to make fun of the character. The internet has had a field day making fun of Kylo Ren for his whiny tantrums (e.g., the Emo Kylo Ren twitter account). While I take the possibility of his redemption seriously, I'm not averse to having a bit of fun at his expense. He deserves it! And this also gave me fodder for jokes I could throw around all day at the con while cosplaying him.

Kylo Ren does NOT appreciate being left out of photos!

Perhaps most importantly, though, it's good to surround yourself with a group of friends also cosplaying from the same series, so you can play off each other the way the characters would.

I can't remember the last time I had this much fun! The four of us were staying in a hotel room together at Ohayocon in Columbus, OH last month, and on Saturday of the con, we decided to all dress up as characters from the new Star Wars movie. This was a bit of a last-minute decision; as such, this is the first costume I've worn that I did not make myself. Steph, an experienced cosplayer (the one cosplaying Poe), threw the costumes together from among items she had lying around her house after ten years of cosplaying. What I lost in not making the costume, though, I more than made up for in fun with friends. Since this is such a popular franchise right now, we couldn't go two steps at the con without someone stopping our group to ask for pictures. The positive attention was really nice! We also staged our own photos, recreating scenes from the movie, or scenes (usually of a...romantic nature) that we imagined ourselves. While we weren't in character 100% of the time, we did throw banter back and forth all day related to the characters.

Surrounded by this milieu, I had no trouble acting like this male character. I exaggerated his whiniest, most emo traits. I gleefully pursued all the Han Solo cosplayers I could find in order to recreate that iconic, heartbreaking scene with him. I chased after a Darth Vader cosplayer, because Kylo Ren is a total Darth Vader fanboy. I got scolded by a Leia cosplayer. I even wrote my Facebook comments in character! For instance, when a friend saw a photo of all four of us, she asked, "Are you Kylo? Love love love!" I responded, in typical wannabe-Sith fashion, "Love is for the weak. -Emo Kylo Ren."

After this experience with a group, going back to cosplaying by myself is going to be a bit of a letdown! I think this shows how, once again, the community aspects of cosplay are so important. It's not just that community provides a context for cosplay; it also helps individuals to gain confidence--even when they're cosplaying someone completely different from themselves.

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