My friends from yoga are all over 50. Yesterday we talked about the rise of wearing people wearing costumes which, over the past 10 years, has been nothing short of meteorological. The consensus of my friends is that costumes for kids under age 10 is very acceptable, but for young adults that it may be overwhelming and confusing. Over age 25, the general feeling was that except for the odd party, it-is-not-so-much-accepted. This got me thinking again about self-expression as we age. You see those photo-editorials in fashion magazines about dressing in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Should fashion get progressively drabber and boxier as age? What constitutes “grown-up” behaviour in fashion and costuming?
The term Cosplay is short for costume play. Like Halloween and other forms of theatrical performance, Cosplay is still the one place where people regardless of age, gender, economy, race, ability or sexual preference are judged for their enthusiasm, not their skill or the size of their weapon. 😛
There is, however, always the thought that one will be judged. I was no exception to this as I prepared for FanExpo 2013. I had decided to cosplay a character, Annie Leonhart, as known as the Female Titan in Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan, it’s Japanese title Shingeki no Kyokyjin, is a manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. It also had an April 2013 animated series release.
Before I get into the Annie character and my cosplay, I want to say that cosplay is dominated by the 16-25 age group, both male and female. However, there is much ballyhoo over young women cosplaying provocative characters from comics, manga, anime, film and television. Before we get into the whole skanky slutty costume argument, here is a nice piece by Sushi Killer about the CONsent message. ‘Nuf said.
My worry was still that no amount of padding or make-up would disguise the fact that I am over 50. Would I be accepted? Would other attendees think I should be acting/dressing my own age?
Luckily, my desire to cosplay was encouraged by my co-op students who still believe in the Live and Let Live message. The view at FanExpo is like visiting an unfamiliar country with brightly coloured birds, exotic animals, rare butterflies and the occasional scary spider. At this point, I was more anxious to see if the character would be recognized. I had taken the liberty of cannibalizing a Morph Muscle suit by handpainting what I felt the character representation would be – more like fan art than meticulously recreating the character in the manga or in the anime. On Saturday, as I walked the aisles of art art, t-shirts, new games, autograph sessions and panels I saw a lone Eren Yeager cosplayer in human form on Saturday, but he bit his hand so I ran away. That’s an inside joke as when the human Eren bites his hand he transforms into a monster Titan like me.
It was finally gratifying when the few groups of young adults wearing Training and Survey cosplay recognized and wanted a picture with me, their nemesis – even this funny one where the Survey Corp cosplayers are towering over the supposed Titan.
The Colossal Titan [also a small female like me] made a brief appearance on Sunday, however, I think I was the only Female Titan during the entire FanExpo. This excited me because the series is gaining popularity and you can’t buy the cosplay costume online. Meaning that my costume was unique and I had to make it all from scratch which other cosplayers really appreciate.
Those who did not recognize the Annie-Female Titan character still complimented on on the hand-painted costume which I had laboured over for two weeks. The tiny plastic figurines I had created for Armin Arlert and the Spinning Man were also a big hit. They created conversation and gave me an opportunity to learn how to pose. I’m sure some cosplayers spend hours in front of a mirror finding poses that are in character and show off the costume.
As the hours went on, I felt more comfortable and started to relate more to the character. I came home happy and exhausted to a very understanding husband, who made me supper and poured me a glass of wine as I excitedly related my experience.
As for my clients at Fee FiFoFun Costumes & FX4 Costume Concierge, my goal is to find characters that are interesting, enjoyable and can be pulled off confidently.
This article has been adapted and originally August 2013 in my In Disguise blog on all things costuming.