Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Post From Yaya Han About Cosplay

This is a post from well-known cosplayer and costumer, Yaya Han. Although cosplay is not usually historical costuming, the advice in the post applies to us as historical costumers and dressers. You can read more about Yaya here

"This is something I wrote last year and I think it bears repeating every once in a while.

This is a reminder and encouraging post to experienced and new cosplayers alike. And as a disclaimer off the bat - I do not see myself as an authority in cosplay. I only call myself an ambassador because I wanted to steer away from other superlative "titles' given to me by a myriad of sources over the years. I know of MANY ambassadors for cosplay, people who do a lot of good in the community and are positive influences. I strive to be more like them.

I'm speaking to you simply as a cosplayer who cares about this unique great thing a lot. And I see the community in turmoil right now. This amazing community that gave me so much happiness and wonders over 14 years. So, I want to talk about some hot topics in cosplay. Right now. Me, talking to you. In all honesty. My true opinions.
This is a hobby. An art form. A career for some. A social pastime for others. Cosplay is not a sport. There is no rule book, commandments, or memo on HOW you should cosplay.

If you want to buy a costume, go for it! Enjoy wearing it! Many cosplayers I know commission costumes from experienced costume makers and it is a wonderful relationship to witness. My friends get to make costumes for a living, and someone out there feels like they can take on the world with an awesome custom fit costume for them. It's beautiful.
If you want to make an elaborate costume and put hundreds of hours into it, go for it! Love the process and cherish the creative outlet that it will give you. Craftsmanship is the driving force behind all of my costumes, and I speak loudly about my love for craftsmanship and how it should be important to those who want to make costumes. Because caring about something pushes you to explore further, be bolder, try more things. It is a JOY to be hands on while making a costume, and I want to share that feeling with everyone.

If you want to dress like a sexy character, go for it! Cosplay is a great confidence builder and for some, a motivational tool for eating healthier and leading a more active lifestyle. You can't diss anything that can help you live a longer, healthier life.
I have dressed as some very sexy characters in the past, from Felicia to Jessica Rabbit to Power Girl to Ank-su-namun from The Mummy. Before cosplay was in the mainstream's eye, the main audience for it was other cosplayers and con-goers! Many understood that you were portraying a character that was designed specifically to be vivacious, sexy and a fantasy. The amazing thing about those female characters is that no matter how they dressed, they stood on their own, fended for themselves, and were confident, powerful women. I think the attractiveness to characters such as these is their validity as a person BEYOND just being female.
Now, cosplayers are judged at face value, often by folks who have never heard of the games, comics, or characters before, and don't know that they were designed that way.
Well, I'm here to tell you, that most sexy characters WERE designed by someone in the professional entertainment field, we are here replicating those designs.
Also, if you ever wondered why so many female cosplayers dress so provocatively, consider the notion that maybe as young girls, we grew up reading these comic book characters' stories, watching Princess Leia kill Jabba the Hutt despite being in a SLAVE outfit, and admired Jessica Rabbit's loyalty and love for her husband despite being the embodiment of male fantasy. Maybe, as young girls, we were inspired to pay tribute to these characters. Maybe we also wanted to be strong like them. It takes courage to walk out in public in a costume. It takes even more courage to walk out in a revealing costume.
Additionally, consider this fact: Revealing costumes can be more difficult to fit! The less fabric you have on, the more fitted and well-sewn it needs to me, because there is no hiding flaws!
Lastly - GUESS WHAT?! You can have craftsmanship AND sexy all within the same costume!! Some of the sexiest costumes I have seen in my life required countless hours of hard work, meticulous details and a combination of various techniques. In fact, sexy and craftsmanship should go hand in hand, and I commend all the cosplayers out there who work hard on their sexy cosplays. I'm right there with ya!

If you want to dress as a character that looks nothing like you, go for it! There is so much judgement on race, gender, weight, size, height and other things that CAN NOT BE CHANGED in cosplay - it has never made sense to me. Just like anyone should be able to collect an action figure of their favorite character, or wear a T-shirt of their favorite superhero, anyone should be able to show their love for a character by cosplaying them. People get so wrapped up in how THEIR ideal real life version of a character should look like that they forget that they are talking about REAL HUMAN BEINGS. With feelings. I cosplay as tall Caucasian characters all the time. You should cosplay whatever character you want.

Lastly, I just want to reiterate one very important reminder for all of us. Cosplay should be about friends. Surround yourselves with like-minded people who will support you in your way of cosplaying, and who will join in with as much enthusiasm as you will. I value the friendships I have acquired through cosplay very much, and I have always viewed the life-long friends I have made through cosplay as one of the biggest rewards from this pass-time.
That's what is important, guys. Support your fellow cosplayers. Support your friends. Each of you may cosplay for different reasons, and have different focus, but we're all in this together, making and dressing up as fictional characters. In the end, it is all about having fun and being creative."

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