Do you guys ever feel the "am I getting too old for cosplay" kind of thing? Being in the mid 20's range, more and more I see people my age dropping the hobby and just going to cons in casual clothes and sometimes I feel too old for everything that happens at cons. I'm not a frequent cosplayer either and only attend 2-3 cons at most a year (AN and whatever I can plan for, Canadian here) but any tips or advice for that stage in the hobby?
The average age of the Dangerous Ladies is 29.5 so… we feel you.
Here’s the thing:
By your mid-twenties, odds are you are settling into a career or have a better idea of what you’re doing with your life. You don’t have the free time of being in school (in the sense that a lot of people in school are spending as much time doing fandom stuff as they are studying) and while you may have a lot more disposable incoming virtue working full-time, you probably also have a lot more responsibilities and bills to pay. Your career may not allow an obvious public profile, especially not with some of the more salacious costume designs.
And you’re getting older physically, too. Suddenly characters that seemed worldly and mature to you as a teenager are now years younger than you. Every other anime has a cast of fourteen year olds, and the older characters are almost all grizzled old men. (Thank fuck for Overwatch, LawBreakers and other games with older ensemble casts!) Like many others, your body is probably changing; personally, I’ve never been happier with my body, but I also find myself pickier in what I adorn it with.
And oh my god, keeping up with the teenagers and early-twenties at this age? I can’t change costume three times in one day, or have multiple new costumes for every convention, or impulse buy pre-made costumes. (When on earth would I even wear them, I wonder?) I just got off a multi-week crunch that culminated in a 82 hour work week, I don’t have the energy for a quick change.
And OH, god, the EXPERIENCE. If you’re thinking you’re getting old, you’ve probably been around for enough years to have developed some skills. You know what you’re capable of and how far you’ve come and want to go farther –– whipping out a shoddy costume sometimes isn’t enough anymore, you want to make something to the best of your ability. You know your stuff so your standards are higher, which slows you down even MORE.
Lots of people seem to see this change in lifestyle as an incompatibility with cosplay and drop out. Others struggle with having to cosplay differently –– maybe they don’t WANT to slow down even if the rest of their life (and potentially their body) is telling them it’s time. This is an age when you generally have to shift priorities around to make it work, and if you don’t want to change, dropping out seems better at times.
I feel we already let go of the madhouse, rapid-fire costume sprees years ago, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been growing pains. It’s been harder to get projects done as our responsibilities stack up in our personal lives. We’ve all felt read thin in some ways over the past few years, but we adapt!
So here are some tips:
- Use your years of experience to do fewer but more detailed pieces.
- See conventions as a time to spend with friends, not a time to be on the floor in something incredible at all times. I love balancing casual time with big costume time because it means I can spend quality time with friends in something comfortable and easy.
- Explore what cosplay actually means to you, and focus on that part.
- Assess what it means that people still want to spend time together. If people are going to conventions in regular outfits without cosplay just to hang out and see each other, then it means people in this community are forming friendships as people, not just because of a shared hobby. That matters!
- Revitalize conventions for yourself by not going to crappy cons anymore. In Anime North’s case, I think lots of people drop out because Anime North is fucking stagnant. It’s easy to feel old when you’ve been going to a convention for ten years and nothing has changed and it’s not enjoyable anymore but you only go out of habit. Switch it up. Travel. Go to other conventions that do things a little differently; going to another place makes it feel fresh.
- Be friendly with the younger folk. It makes me feel like a grandma sometimes, but spending time with people who are young and enthusiastic and still going hard can be kind of refreshing. They’re
- When you hear someone aged 20 or 21 complaining about feeling too old for cosplay, have a good belly laugh and keep on doing your thing.
- Relearn tailoring for your own body. It’ll keep you on your toes and it’s good practice 👍