lately i've found myself actively disliking wearing cosplay. i still enjoy making costumes and talking shop with other cosplayers, but the joy i used to feel while wearing what i've made has died a lot. have you ladies ever gone through this? is there a way to get that feeling back?
Absolutely. This was me to a T for a solid two or so years, from Madoka all the way to Fire Emblem just last year, which was weird considering I used to jump at literally any excuse to get in costume. Getting out of it is really about getting to the bottom of why you started to feel that way, though, and what your priorities are. For me, it was three things –– being so tired of a project that by time I finished it I loathed the idea of putting it on, starting to feel my age in costumes designed for characters in their early teens, and feeling tired of conventions in general. Here’s how I got it back:
I decided to stop taking on projects I wasn’t really passionate about. After Overwatch and Inuyasha (which we committed to last year) we have no plans for big groups where everyone picks a character regardless of interest level. Since I do the bulk of the planning and sewing for our groups, I felt I had to lessen the load on myself in order to enjoy making costumes for myself again, so going forward we’re going to be structuring groups a little differently. A big part of this is not investing hundreds of hours into costumes I don’t care for, as it takes time away from the things I actually do want to make AND wear. I feel like there’s a huge pressure in the community to constantly have new finished costumes and that’s way too stressful and takes away my enjoyment of the craft when everything is about rapid turnover.
I confronted the fact that I am not a teenager anymore. I’m not youthful person and I have never looked young for my age, so it stands to reason that I didn’t feel convincing dressed as a fourteen year old. I took the “anyone can cosplay anything” philosophy too far and pushed myself out of my comfort zone when I really didn’t need to, and it had the adverse effect of making me feel like Sakaki in the swamp instead of feeling cute. As a result, I don’t do schoolgirls and idols and magical girls so much anymore. Now, I’m working on embracing cosplaying older or more mature-looking characters that I used to really want to do when I was younger. The new motto, spiritually jacked from Ratatouille: anyone can cosplay anything, but it doesn’t mean everyone will feel great in anything.
As for conventions: this took some finagling. One, it took starting to go to conventions outside of our usual haunts. After 10+ years, Anime North and FanExpo feel tired. Absolutely EXHAUSTING. It’s the same thing every year, and the conventions have stagnated so much that I feel like just about everyone goes out of habit rather than any real excitement or joy for it. I mean, if we’re going exclusively for a reason to dress up, why not go shooting for a weekend with friends or something? So we branched out and started going to American cons. It’s been phenomenal, honestly, and going to cons outside our area has made me relish conventions like new again. Going to Katsucon was the most fun I’ve had at a convention since my very first one, honestly! And a part of that is part two: meeting new people. I’ve been a hermit for yeaaaaars in the cosplay community, seldom venturing outside this tumblr and whatnot, but this past year I’ve started making a lot of close friends through social media and it really hypes me up to wear costumes and go to conventions again, as I’m sharing it with new friends whose vibrancy, passion and excitement is infectious. (Shout out here to Krista, Christen, Max, Bono, Tori, Mia, Tracey and the many others too numerous to name but all equally loved who have given me reason to love this hobby again in the past year!)
Anyway: I care again. I haven’t felt so excited for my upcoming costumes (Mercy, Luna and InuYasha!) in a decade.
If it’s a costume I don’t feel very good enough, yeah, I’ll be meh about it, but I try to find costumes I’m super passionate about because it makes all the difference! Like, I felt OK in Sailor Mars, but she wasn’t my favourite scout, so it was natural to not feel as passionate about it. But I feel amazing in Sumia because I feel I can portray her very well, so I find something I’ll feel so good in, and I had a hand in. I like projects that are my niche and that I’ll look so good in!
For me it was also the reverse for a long time –– I didn’t like making them because I was scared of learning to sew but I liked to wear them. Now that I’m learning to sew I’m a lot more excited because I feel that much more connected to it.
If you enjoy making costumes but just don’t want to wear them, you can take a break. Make costumes for other people for a while, or work on real clothes or something different from what you’re burned out on. That’s what I did when I felt it; I said whatever, I’ll just sew other stuff. The best thing you can do is try something else for a while until you find a project that motivates you again.
The ladies have pretty much said everything that could be said perfectly, but here are some of my experiences. I’ve had a very brief stint with cosplay compared to others, but the ups and downs have not eluded me. While I had always wanted to cosplay, I guess I never wanted to do it alone. I was always timid to go to cons by myself and never felt strong enough to venture into making costumes on my own. Meeting my friend Erin changed that completely because I met somebody who wanted to be a part of it with me. Suddenly it was this wave of going hard on making things I never thought I would make even though I can look back on it now and see how terribly I made things hahaha. I started with my Cass Cain Batgirl and Chell from Portal. Two crazy starts for me personally as I had never sewed, worked with acrylic, vinyl, fibreglass and bondo. Making them felt invigorating! However, over time, my living and financial situations didn’t really allow for me to have creative space (4-6 adults in an apartment, yikes!). I also went hard into my work so my passions kind of fell to the wayside. Erin moved away to a different continent for a couple of years, but she’s back now woo! I didn’t have many other friends I felt close enough to and as Jenn previously said, Fan Expo and Anime North don’t inspire much creativity or a fresh, exciting environment so even if I went with other friends, it was just going through the motions. I wasn’t inspired to attempt to learn more. I didn’t feel like any characters really connected with me and the ones that did, like Shepard from Mass Effect, I was too scared to attempt alone. Little by little, I fell out of it. I didn’t want solo projects, I wanted to be a part of something.
Joining the Dangerous Ladies has completely rejuvinated my love for it. The first group project I joined was for Sailor Moon, how could I not be excited to do one of my first loves? Lucina has given me life, I could do version after version of her and wear her for years, I absolutely adore her. The thought of being Ana from Overwatch and doing an Inuyasha cosplay (Sango) excites me to no end. I’m more brave and have more opportunities and motivation to learn more. I’ve already learned so much in the few years being with them and WANT to learn more! The passion is back. My love for gaming and anime feels alive again in a way I can visually express it. The new cons we’ve ventured to have been phenomenal and the people we have met have been such an inspiration and so much damn fun to be around. Finding the right people to be around, work, and travel with has been so important for me to find my love for cosplay again and I am so happy that I found it.
All this rambling comes to this: Find out what the source of your distaste for it is. What drove you to love cosplaying in the first place? Find that drive and source of inspiration and love. Search for new ventures that will motivate you to try out new things! All the best!