Since we’re so close to Halloween I really want to talk about costumes and cosplay. I enjoy dressing up be it for theatre, and conventions, Halloween, or just in general. Now I wouldn’t call myself a serious cosplayer and, I’ll be honest, my mother has made practically all of my outfits, but its always been really fun.
It generally started out for Halloween. Little kids like dressing up. I never really grew out of that phase – I still want to go out trick-or-treating even if I am too old. I’ve gotten more selective: I like dressing up from fandoms or even specific characters. The most complex outfit my mom made in high school was a full Jedi uniform, cloak and tunic included!
I wore it to one of the few parties I got invited to in high school. And I still have it – its my go-to for a Halloween costume when I’m in a new city because those people haven’t seen it before. Sometimes I even wear it on May the 4th.
My first Halloween of my BA an entire group of friends dressed up as students from Hogwarts.
Each House was represented once (I got to be Hufflepuff) and the fifth person went as Professor McGonagall – we got a group photo but to respect their privacy I won’t include that photo here. Harry Potter really helped me connect me with new friends and a few years later I knitted Hogwarts scarves for everyone. That Halloween really made thing worth it. We did Trick-Or-Eat and ended up having to wait for the bus. Two others joined us for the wait, dressed as a fortune-teller and Pink Floyd’s the Wall. We called them Professor Trelawny and the Room of Requirement and spent out wait huddled in a group singing Queen and Disney songs. It was cold bit it was worth it. For the first time in a long time I really felt I belonged in that moment, belonged with those people. IT’s one of my happiest memories – we were all dressed up and somehow able to be ourselves even more than usual.
I’ve lost my tie and I couldn’t knit well so most of those scarves have probably unravelled or have been thrown away. But whenever I’m really struggling I think about that Halloween.
I’ve done theatre periodically and went whole hog on it in university. Sometimes things weren’t fun, sometimes it was hard, sometimes things went wrong. Sometimes you accidently say Macbeth and get chased out of the room and told to do a bunch of weird actions like spinning around before they would let me back in. And sometimes you summon a demon (more on that next week haha). While you’re literally acting as a character, but it teaches you so much about yourself: how you spend waiting time, how you present certain characteristics, and so much more. It’s self-expression in a really visceral way. Plus, the time you spend back stage with the cast and crew can be absolutely gratifying.
More recently its been just me or a smaller group of friends getting dressed up and out there. For my BA graduation my mother gifted me with a beautiful white cloak. My best friend loved when I’d wear it into the woods, we have so many pictures on me in that cloak.
It matched the cloaks some of my friends had. They suited us. When I moved to start my Master’s I wore my cloak to an SCA event (Society of Creative Anachronism – basically a modern medieval times style group found across the world). I tried really hard to participate fully: dressing up, dancing, feasting. I even gave my favour to a knight who fought in the tournament for my honour and his.
But it felt like I was trying. Before my costumes helped me come out of my shell and be myself more, even when I was pretending to be someone else. During that event I just felt like I was hiding away, trying to ignore the fact that things weren’t working out. That I wasn’t enjoying my program, the society, or anything else happening in my life. After the event I stripped off my cloak and shoved it deep into my closet. I didn’t want to pretend I wanted to feel like myself again. I never did go to another event.
For a while I thought I was passed dressing up. I didn’t do any theatre and wearing cloaks wasn’t fun when none of my friends were there. I started doubting I could dress up again. Then EGLX came along – a videogame convention featuring some of my favorite Youtubers and only a few hours away? Yes, I was going to go!
My mother asked if I was going to cosplay. That choice was harder. Wouldn’t I just be pretending again? Wouldn’t I just be hiding? While the doubts were still there so too were the happy memories. Dressing up and just having fun. Celebrating something I enjoyed for no other reason than the fact that I enjoyed it!
So, yes, I cosplayed. Between my mother and I we put together a casual cosplay for Mae from Night in the Woods. I helped a lot of people with cosplay bingo and I met some people that really help inspire me.
I haven’t had a chance to dress up since then, but Halloween is coming up so, who knows?