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"Why do you cosplay?"
“Do you cosplay because you’re afraid to be yourself?
These are two of the many questions I have received from various people in my life who don’t quite understand what it is to be a cosplayer. So, in this blog, I intend to answer them. I’ve taken each of these questions to heart, been offended by them, and did my best to answer them while I was in the moment. Now, I want to give them a bit more detail and a thought out explanation. This is a blog of my own personal experience as a cosplayer and should in no way define why other cosplayers cosplay. We each have our own individual viewpoints and, while many may identify with how I answer, we are all individuals—different and unique in our own right.
Let’s get started!
“Why do you cosplay?”
There are actually a lot of reasons behind this. First off, I want to give my favorite characters the limelight they deserve. My favorite character is often also someone else’s favorite character or at least a character that they admire. If I am that character for that photo shoot, that convention, or that Tik Tok video, many people are granted access to a character in situations outside of the character’s own realm of plot. When someone can interact with that character in that situation, it creates a whole new kind of love for them. My favorite quote once said by a friend was, “You know how you always wanted to meet your favorite superhero when you were a kid? For a day, I get to be a superhero and grant that opportunity to kids everywhere.” What better opportunity is there than that?
On that note, another reason why I cosplay (especially why I cosplay Noctis) is that I get to be Noctis. I walk around convention halls recognized by fans of Final Fantasy XV. I am greeted happily by other cosplayers cosplaying characters from the Final Fantasy series (and others) and get to make new friends from every which way. I cosplay because it’s fun, and I get to be someone that I adore, admire, and appreciate as a character for a whole weekend. What can get better than that?
While there are many more underlying reasons explaining why I cosplay, perhaps the biggest reason is that I have finally found a means to combat social anxiety. While cosplay in and of itself can escalate anxiety and nervousness for many, for me it takes a load off it away. Noctis (or any other character I cosplay) gives me the confidence and carefree-ness I need to bat away social anxiety and brave the journey of being able to interact with others. Though it is still harder outside of costume, I have found that practicing in character has really improved the way I can interact with people outside of character. Without cosplay, I may have been stuck within the confines of social anxiety for much longer.
“Do you cosplay because you’re afraid to be yourself?”
Quite the opposite, actually. As mentioned above, cosplay does nothing but help me to be myself. Through being in character, I am able to interact with people I would have never been able to approach otherwise. I have met cosplay icons, celebrities, artists, great nonprofessional cosplayers, and many other fantastic people all through cosplay. If I would have never cosplayed, I would have never been able to interact with those people. Likewise, without cosplay, I would have never realized the toxicity in my own life and the need to be rid of it. On top of that, it’s how I met my best friend and continue to interact with people in my everyday life—even outside of costume.
In short, I cosplay because it allows me to be myself, not because I’m afraid to be myself. I have found a whole community of people that enjoy the same fandoms that I do. I have been introduced to new amazing fandoms. And I have made valuable, lifelong friends that I might have never made through other circumstances.