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Cosplay:The Subculture of the Younger Generation

19 August 2021

We’ve all been there - donning a costume and trick or treating as a child. We grew up and did the same only instead of trick or treating we went with our friends to parties and get-togethers. Wearing a costume and being something or someone you admire for a night is a fun experience. Some people have more fun than others though, as they do it outside of one holiday a year. They wear their favorite character's costume at events and conventions. That is what they call cosplay.

Cosplay is an endeavor and an art performance where a person wears a costume and even has accessories like a DIY sword made out of cardboard to represent a certain character. Most of these characters are who the person relates very much too. Sometimes a cosplay can also be chosen by who a person is most physically similar to. It is a subculture that is getting bigger and bigger each year as more conventions and events where cosplaying can be used.

This form of role-playing is usually anime or comic book characters. But more people are taking tv series characters, characters from video games, animated series, and manga into the fold. This broadens not only the characters a first-time participant can choose, but it also widens the area that cosplay applies to. Cosplay is not only an activity for the young ones, people of all ages can participate in this subculture.

Wearing a costume has long been part of human history. In 1393, King Charles the IV of France organized the first masquerade balls. It was called “Burning Men’s Ball” or “Bal des Argents” and was organized to celebrate the marriage of the lady in waiting of Queen Isabeau de Baviere. In the 15th century, there were masquerade balls usually set during Carnival season.

This is a western Christian custom that happens in February or early March before Lent. There is an element of circus to this event and overindulgence to prepare for the fasting during Lent. During the Renaissance in the 16th Century, the masquerade ball was introduced in Venice, Italy.

This culture would still prevail in American and British costume parties. However, what would be the birth of modern cosplay was held in 1891. This is when the founder of London Massage and Galvanic Hospital, Dr. Henry Tibbits invited royalty to wear character costumes from a science fiction book published two decades earlier. 

The other participants of this fete were routed to a customer for what they will wear to the event. However, the word cosplay itself was created when Nobuyuki Takahashi attended the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Los Angeles for an article he was going to write for the Japanese magazine My Anime.

Clothes have the power to transform people. In a study by Adam Galinsky, a psychologist titled, “Enclothed Cognition” he described how clothing influences the wearer’s psychological processes and behavior. In the study, he asked the participants to wear a doctor’s coat and were found to be more attentive and focused.

When tested they have 50 percent less errors than the other group of participants. This is because they see the doctor as detail-oriented and careful. The symbolic association of clothing becomes the wearer.

Some people use cosplay as a way to gain confidence in socializing and self-esteem. One cosplayer said while she was a shy introvert, people in the conventions come to her and recognize her costume. 

They would initiate a conversation with her and as this character is someone she relates to and knowledgeable about, it became easier for her to socialize and be part of a like-minded community. This led her to gain confidence in speaking and connecting with other people.

Other cosplayers, by relating to a specific character, help themselves to cope with certain trauma or struggles they have in their personal life. If a character has dealt with difficulties and violence at a young age, the person who cosplays would then be motivated to work towards his own struggles.

 An example of a character would be Batman, who lost his parents at a young age but was able to rise up above and beyond by being a superhero and also a businessman. Some also find Wonder woman, a way to embrace femininity and embracing one’s power as a woman.

Getting started in cosplay is easy. If you are artistic and like DIY, you can just search up a tutorial on YouTube or Google and you can find so many resources to choose from. You can also have a dressmaker take your size, create the costume that you would like by giving them a picture of your favorite character and the materials you have chosen to use for that costume.

 If you aren’t very good at dressmaking and want everything to be perfect, this is the way to go. However, not a lot of people would have the budget to have a customer customize a whole set for a specific character.

In this case, you can either rent one from other cosplayers or create one from scratch or materials chosen. Some cosplayers sell the pattern from the costume to horns, to helmets, to gloves for a minimum price to help other cosplayers. There are also people who use 3D printers for the accessories and paint them themselves. 

There are cosplay crafting books that teach one the step by step on how to craft your own accessories. If you like sewing, cosplaying might be fun for you! You can take your size and create the pattern from it. After that, you cut the fabric from the pattern and just sew it away.

Cosplaying takes a lot of detail into consideration and it is also a lot of work. But the fulfillment you get, the admiration in conventions, the sense of community from this subculture, and the psychological benefits one gets from this are priceless. If you find this something to be passionate about, FlexiSpot has a product that can support you towards your goal.

 The Height Adjustable Sewing Table would be something you might need in your cosplay studio. It is a spacious workspace that you can use not only to sew but also to accurately cut fabric, glue together accessories, draw and sketch your next cosplay and so much more. The sewing platform is adjustable with a turn of a knob, which makes it not only a sewing machine but also a desk you can work on. Truly, a versatile, sturdy piece of furniture an artist must-have.