Most people cosplay for fun. Like any sport or hobby or other form of entertainment, the main reason people cosplay is because they’re having fun doing it. In the US, Americans spend tons of money on an entire holiday dedicated to putting on a costume, and there are pockets of the country where people re-enact the Civil War or pretend to live in 18th Century America, complete with colonial garb. So seeing someone getting some thrill out of dressing up as Lulu from Final Fantasy shouldn’t be that difficult to understand.
“Be it love of a character, enjoying the attention of being in an elaborate costume or portraying a loved character, or the appreciation from peers from completing a complex costume… there are many motivations for donning spandex or cape,” says from a cosplayer.
Some cosplayers make statements with their cosplay. Crossplay is a term for when a cosplayer dresses up a character who’s a different gender than they are. “Many female cosplayers find the act of dressing and embodying a male character empowering,” Theresa Winge, a professor at Michigan State told CNN. “Male characters often include opportunities to wear clothing not afforded to many female characters, not to mention the weapons.”
In the cosplay world, there are varying degrees of devotion too. Some people will just put on a mask bought from a store, but others get into character. A large number of cosplayers see it as a type of performance art, while some cosplayers design custom costumes that take days or weeks to build. The latter usually compete in cosplay competitions.
At comic conventions, there’s usually a specified night when a costume competition and party are held. Cosplayers who enter the competition show off their costumes in front of an audience and a panel of judges, and are awarded prizes (sometimes cash) for their costume/cosplay. At San Diego Comic Con, the contest is called The Masquerade and awards cosplayers in categories like Best in Show, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, and Best Young Fan.
Some people have parlayed their cosplaying into careers (e.g. cosplayers who are looking for jobs in costume design may show off their skill in cosplay events). A costume designer and cosplay legend, parlayed her success in the cosplay circuit into appearances and is now starring in her own comic. Han and a handful of other talented cosplayers were featured on SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay reality show.
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