From Ordinary to Extraordinary: How Cosplayers Unlock Superpowers with Costumes

“My name is Becki,” says a young woman in a convention center that has been transformed into a comic book market. She flips her hair into a strand of hair that is orange and begins to speak in a Scottish accent. “And today I am Merida from Brave.

Becki Turner is a 28-year-old woman from Waldorf, Maryland, and is currently attending AwesomeCon in Washington, D.C., along with thousands of other attendees in extravagant costumes. Turner says she’s more reserved when she isn’t an actual Disney princess or a Scottish fairy from a Disney film. “I’m less shy when I’m in cosplay. I don’t have as much anxiety as when I’m just me, likesome social anxiety.”

She struts around in her green dress and is wearing her bow that is recurved. Her smile is contagious. “[Merida’san incredibly tough, fierce, and determined woman,” Turner says. Today, she’s equally strong and determined as she has ever been.

In the 1960s and 1970s, American science fiction conventions started to let people dress in the form of fantasy or science fiction characters. Cosplayers were the first to wear outfits that were inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars. But fashion has grown. Costumes are usually derived from anime, comic books, video games, movies, and TV shows. Imagine characters from even the smallest amount of popular science fiction or fantasy universe, and there’s probably been someone who’s masqueraded as the persona. Many subgroups of cosplay are special, such as the “bronies” which are men who dress up as My Little Pony ponies.

Cosplayers are people who dress as characters and attend conventions across the U.S., Europe, and Japan. This is where geeks get together and have fun and meet their science fiction and fantasy brethren. For cosplayers that involve sharing the thrill of changing themselves into something, or someone, else.

However, for many, it’s more than an easy game of dress-up. The costumes they choose are a way to show something that’s not usually visible. Ni’esha Wongus, from Glen Burnie, Md. is carrying a 6-foot foam gun and is dressed in an edgy pleather bodysuit. “I am Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2,” she claims. “I consider myself an introvert. But once I got all the buckles and straps on, as well as the gun, and stood in front of the mirror for the first time? That was the moment I was in love with. Because of it, I feel stronger and more confident.

Leland Coleman, a Nashville, Tenn. resident believes his costume represents the transformation of. Captain America was a major inspiration to him over the past year, as he shed 45 pounds and stopped taking insulin. He created a Renaissance Marvel Comics version of Captain America. The costume “gave him strength.” I feel like I’ve grown into it and become it.”

They playfully invoke the subtle influence over us. The use of clothing has been used by people to seduce, subdue and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel differently. Psychologists are trying to determine the ways that clothes impact our perception and how much. Adam Galinsky, the psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study in which he asked participants to put on a white coat. He explained to some participants that they were wearing painter’s smocks and some were wearing doctor’s coats.

Then he examined their focus and concentration. People who believed they were wearing the coat of the doctor were more focused and attentive as compared to those who were wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy believes this is because people feel more doctor-like when they don doctor’s coats. Galinksy claims that doctors are seen as attentive, precise, and meticulous. The process is symbolic. When you put on the clothes and put it on, you become who you are.”

Nearly every attire that has an important meaning seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as an expression. According to the case of one study that was conducted, those wearing fake sunglasses were more likely to lie and cheat than people wearing genuine brands, as if fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object is given significance when we take it home, we activate it. We wear it, and we wear it,” says Abraham Rutchick who is a psychologist who works at California State University Northridge.

Rutchick has found that people wearing formal clothes to interview have a more abstract view and focus more on the bigger image than people who wear casual clothing. For instance, people in formal clothing would say that locking the door is more like locking a house, an abstract concept rather than turning a key, which is a mechanical action.

The effect from clothing is likely to be twofold, Rutchick says. Rutchick states, “When I dress in the clothes I feel certain that way.” And, he adds, “I [also] feel what people think of me, which is likely to alter my behavior and the way I think about myself.”

The effect of that feedback is apparent in the cosplay crowd, where people rush to compliment one another on their costumes and snap photos.

Riki LeCotey known as a well-known and well-loved cosplayer from Atlanta who is known by the stage name Riddle she says the power she finds in cosplay stems both from the costumes and the people’s reactions. “Someone says”You’re the perfect Black Cat [a character from Spiderman]. You’re thinking “Oh they think that I’m sexually attractive.” The outfit makes me feel very sexy. Perhaps I’m sexy,’ ” she says.

LeCotey noted that these feelings can last long after the con. “You sort of recall the costume when you take off your costume. You may also go through images and feel a sense of remembrance. If you repeat the same thing over and over, it just stays with you. It’s like a memory of sexuality.” LeCotey believes that cosplay has helped her become far more confident than she was as a shy teenager years ago when she began.

In the most fundamental sense, LeCotey states that “[cosplaying is about embodying the characters you are passionate about.” This for her is choosing characters she identifies with because of the same history or an attribute that she is awestruck by. The results show that a quarter of the cosplayers agree with her. They select their characters based on their psychological characteristics or their stories, according to a survey in The Journal of Cult Media.

The clothes serve as a channel to these characteristics but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Jennifer Breedon, a Washington, D.C. AwesomeCon attendee said that she woke up on the morning of and decided to dress in Black Widow’s clothing. She’s wearing an all-leather jacket, combat boots as well as black tights. It’s not Natasha Romanova’s leather catsuit, and there’s no S.H.I.E.L.D. patch to identify the Marvel Comics hero. However, it does work for Breedon. “And this moment I’m channeling the character, that person, that portion of me has that affinity with them.”

She refers to it as a subtler cosplay. She chooses characters that tend to wear simpler or casual clothes. It’s not easy to spot however, it’s there. I’m sure of what it is,” she says.

It’s often hard to spot the costumes such as Jessica Jones’s grey hoodie and jeans as well as her boots which are all part of Marvel Comics. However, Breeden claims that in the most difficult moment in her life, when she felt alone and defeated, the clothing helped her gain the courage to keep moving forward.

Breedon, 32, said that she was feeling like a failure decade back. Breedon struggled with an eating disorder, drug abuse, and one suicide attempt. In the process, “I hurt a lot of people.” She claims that in the time since rehab, her life and health have been in danger. “Even now, I feel an undercurrent shame and I need to deal with it every single day.”

She finished law school and got an internship. She shared the news with all. She was fired within a couple of months saying that it wasn’t the right match. She began to feel depressed and was thinking, “I’ll never feel good enough.”

Three days in a row, Breedon says, she sat alone in her apartment watching Jessica Jones. In her grey hoodie, she dressed exactly like Jessica. “I had to be Jessica,” she says. “The Hoodie gave me a purpose. Jessica Jones always says, “I do not want to work in your law firm or S.H.I.E.L.D. Or whatever. She was free to do whatever she wanted. This made me think “Maybe I’m not destined to work for this company.’ I just felt at peace.”

Cosplay Unveiled: A Journey Through the Art and Culture of Costume Play

Cosplay is much more than just dressing up: for those who utilize it as an outlet for social interaction and as an art form, it’s a means of self-expression and extravagant pleasure. That’s what I’ve learned from Theresa Winge who discovers deep lessons in the cosplay world.

Winge tracks cosplay’s history from its beginnings in manga and anime, to its current-day incarnations on the internet and at conventions.
She writes that though cosplay’s origins are unclear, it is comprised of four basic components–the cosplayer, the social setting, the character/role-playing, and the dress–that facilitate social interactions between people, environments, and the imagination. Winge describes a type of cosplay continuum that is based on the level of commitment, from casual to more complex.

She says that even casual cosplayers are often serious. “Regardless of his or her location on the cosplay spectrum,” writes Winge, “each cosplayer has a remarkable degree of dedication and devotion to portraying a chosen character.”

Winge distinguishes between American and Japanese cosplay conventions. These conventions usually have an element of masquerade. Cosplayers perform their characters before an audience.
In North America, this masquerade includes performance, writes Winge, while in Japan it’s more static. In addition, she writes, Japanese cosplayers tend to limit costume wear to events in contrast to American cosplayers taking their costumes out into the open.

Winge says that cosplay extends beyond clothes and role-playing. It’s “a social activity that allows cosplayers to assume protective identities that help create and strengthen social networks that focus on and more than play.”
Through the creation of private and public spaces as well as experiences that are distinct and significant, cosplay provides an alternative identity.
Winge writes that cosplayers take on “malleable identities” and then translate them to the world. This implies that the world might be a simple, recognizable costume that can be worn or taken off at will.

Cosplay Unveiled: An Essay Delving into the Definition of the Costume Play Subculture


Subcultures can be viewed as a distinct culture within a larger dominant culture from a sociological point of. Subcultures are defined by distinctive norms, beliefs, and customs (Brym and Lie 2012 47). One example is the cosplay subculture. Cosplay can be described as a mixture of subculture and performance art. Many cosplayers engage in off-stage role-playing activities that are based on characters from anime, manga, and comic books.

Main text

Cosplay is among the most creative and innovative subcultures of the present. It’s essentially a form of costume play. Participants must make costumes to imitate characters from movies, video games, comic books, or books. The activities are getting more popular in Japan. Some cosplayers don the costumes not only at conventions or official gatherings but all the time.

There are a variety of activities cosplayers can participate in. They can be found at sewing events, photo sessions, or parties, as well as modeling. So, in the cosplay subculture, there are many possibilities for cosplayers to select from. Because I’m interested in photography, I was a part of photography shoots. This meant that I had to create the scene by the plot.

The concept behind the photo shoots was that the photos should be reminiscent of comic book characters as though they came alive. This activity requires cosplayers to cooperate: those who make the costumes, the decorations as well as the models, and those who write the scripts for the role-playing. It is a huge task to plan these events.

It is often referred to as performance art, as it takes a great deal of acting to create your character and follow the narrative. Cosplay is a subculture since it employs similar practices to costume play. A collection of norms and values are also a part of the subculture of cosplay. A sense of belonging is a strong feeling among cosplayers. Additionally, the group effort is valued as is the care for the details. Recreating the costumes takes lots of effort and time.

Accuracy and precision are crucial for a costume to look authentic. Cosplay norms pertain to the uniformity of costumes at events. Making the costume, and then forgetting to put on the shoes is not a good idea. It is crucial to realize that cosplayers share a special connection that transcends differences in race, gender, or nationality. It is also not a matter of physical appearance. They appreciate one another for putting in the time effort and effort and going to extreme lengths to recreate and reenact the story of a beloved character from a chosen universe.

Symbolic interactions

Through the use of the theoretical approach of symbolic interaction, It is possible to further analyze cosplay and its associated activities. From this sociological standpoint, we can study how people communicate on a micro-level as well as understand how the members of a particular subculture view particular aspects that are typical of the activities of the community.

We can observe through the cosplay activities mentioned above that cosplayers don’t react to specific situations, but they create a space that permits them to act in a specific way. From the perspective of symbolic interactionism, cosplayers construct the reality they reside in. To achieve this, collective effort and mutual appreciation are vital.

The deep sense of community cosplayers has is rooted in the constructed reality that comprises various symbolic elements, as well as a method of identification. Members of this group will be willing to let go of reality and completely immerse themselves in the artificially built world of costume play, where costumes serve as symbols, and serve as a base to establish relationships between the characters that are recreated from a given universe.

Cosplay is a vivid depiction of the world of symbols. Costume play is a constructed reality that makes use of endless symbols to link characters. Through the development of their characters, actors make new friends and become familiar with other people. Many cosplayers say that they are more confident and confident by engaging in these activities. This leads to new social connections and positive relationships based on common interests. What you think of yourself and the way you interact with others within the community can affect your perception of yourself. Therefore, interaction is one of the key elements of the symbolic interactionism theory and is an important aspect of cosplay.


Sociological imagination helps gain an understanding of costume play as a subculture. Mills (1959) declares that social imagination can be a method to recognize the connection between social structure and personal issues. Four levels of social structures surround each member of society. Therefore, personal issues are entangled with societal issues at every level of interaction: microstructures, mesostructures, macrostructures, and global structures. Therefore, the micro-level of interaction within the context of subcultures is related to the sociological imagination’s microstructures. Our sociological awareness allows us to understand our role as a member of the community, and also of specific subcultures.

A Journey into Cosplay: Understanding the Fascinating Subculture

To some, cosplaying is a hobby. Cosplaying may be a pastime for some people, but it is an integral part of daily life. If you’ve participated in cosplay or not, cosplay has become prevalent in today’s society. These costumes take an enormous amount of time and effort to make to allow people to take part in events that allow them to play their favorite characters. Cosplay is described as Halloween costumes as witches. If you’re skilled in the art of cosplay, the process is more than the act of dressing up. It is about fully engaging in the role of an individual character and performing in front of thousands of spectators.

How did this phenomenon begin? How did cosplay evolve from ‘dress up for adults’ to something that’s now considered a subculture, a symbol of one’s passion?

The History of Cosplay

Cosplay was originally known as “costuming”, but it began in the 1930s in North America. At the time cosplay didn’t require participants to mimic a character’s appearance. Instead, they just needed to dress to match the genre. That’s the way that Forrest J. Ackerman did in his futuristic attire when he attended an event in the genre of sci-fi. He was the first attendee to show up in costume, so in the following years conventions started to appear like masquerade balls and prizes were awarded to whoever had the ‘best costume.’

In the Japan Manga series, Urusei Yatsura, and the television series, Mobile Suit Gundam was instrumental in launching the movement and a wave of Japanese college students eagerly wore costumes of their favorite characters at conventions. Borrowing the practice of masquerading as characters from North America, fans would re-enact their favorite scenes, which added to the excitement, as they could display their adoration for the series.

It was not until 1984 that the term ‘cosplay was coined, which combines the terms ‘costume’ and “play”. Nobuyuki Takahashi (Japanese reporter) invented the term following his visit to Worldcon Los Angeles. He believed that the Japanese crowd would find it outdated to translate the word “masquerade” and instead used the word “cosplay” to define the idea. Fast forward to today, when cosplay is considered a subculture. In North America, it is no longer odd to see people donning costumes at events. Cosplay has extended beyond sci-fi and animation to include other genres such as cartoon characters, superheroes, and video game characters. Similarly, Japan has embodied cosplay as a part of its popular culture, especially in districts like Harajuku and Shibuya. These cosplayers dress up every day, making it common to see people who stand out from the crowd.

Maid cafes are also popular. In these establishments, a waitress dresses up as a servant to serve her customers (aka the master). This type of roleplaying might be considered ‘odd’ to some and this brings us to the issue of why people choose to participate in cosplay in the first place.

What motivates people to participate

There are a variety of reasons that people are interested in cosplay. Similar to how fun it is dressing up as a different character during Halloween, cosplayers love dressing up as characters. In the BuzzFeedYellow video, “Why I cosplay” Two cosplayers talk about how being someone else gives them confidence because it boosts their confidence. One cosplayer states, “Cosplay allows me to take on the roles of these characters.” I could live vicariously with how cool they are.” Since cosplay focuses on the likeness to the character, the focus is put on high-quality costumes and realistic roleplaying. Cosplaying can be described as acting out in a certain way. Participants are required to dress and act as the character they are portraying after they have put on their costumes.

There is a strong sense that this subculture is a community. Fans can connect with other fans, regardless of whether they’re into sewing, modeling photography, modeling, or some other form of entertainment. There is a sense of being united, and it’s thrilling to see another person cosplay in the same role as an additional character from the same show. Group photos are taken, and fan service is held to get the audience excited. There are occasions when cosplayers gather for other events other apart from conventions. People who are interested in making costumes can join sewing classes and exchange tips with others. There are also cosplay beach parties and other club events that are hosted by enthusiasts that allow cosplayers to wear their costumes at various locations.

Ultimately, what all cosplayers share is that each person goes into this hobby because they enjoy it. Even though it takes some time and commitment but the rewards are worth it. It’s not like someone spends many hours creating costumes and then put them on when it’s done. This is a great occasion to show off your love for the sport and can be accomplished by anyone willing to learn.


Although many cosplayers participate for fun, some use it to earn money. Jessica Nigri, a cosplayer, and celebrity, was popularized by the time her ‘Sexy Pikachu costume became available online. She has been a model in cosplay since then for many characters such as Connor Kenway in Assassin’s creed III, Vivienne Squall in KILLER IS DEAD, and the female Captain Edward Kenway in Assassin’s creed IV: Black Flag. She has Facebook fan pages as well as a subreddit for her. Her fandom has grown exponentially. Jessica also sells signed posters of herself and gets paid to create costumes for the latest video games that come out.

Jessica Nigri is not the only cosplayer that charges for the privilege of having their photo taken. While monetization is a way to support creators, it could also create problems. Angelia Bermudez, a Costa Rican cosplayer, ended up in a foreign country after being a victim of fraud. Although she was told that the cost of her hotel and flights were insured, she discovered that she was being duped by the owner of her accommodations and was detained. In the end, she was able to get back home due to the generous donations of her fans.

This is the risk that professional cosplayers face and, unfortunately, those who put a lot of work into their craft are either dismissed or not considered serious. What is it that makes a cosplayer professional? Are they the costumes, or how someone models them? What’s the secret to creating cosplay that is “good”?

What are the characteristics of good cosplay?

Buzzfeed’s Try Guys started the series in four parts exploring the worlds of cosplay in August. In this series, the Try Guys learned how much effort goes into a costume before attending a convention. They were puzzled by how one costume could require 700 hours of work, which leads others to think about the factors which go into creating the perfect cosplay.

1. Attention to Attention to

It is crucial to prepare for cosplay events and take your time when putting on the costume. Although on-lookers may not be able to distinguish between two different wigs or fabrics they will be able to tell the costume doesn’t look attractive. Avid fans will also notice the absence of certain details (such as a wristband) Therefore, multiple pictures should be analyzed before making the costume. What catches the eye more than any else is the way that the costume sits on the person. Therefore, cosplayers should make sure that it is a good fit for their body type, even if they are of the same body type as the person they portray.

Cosplay is about the way you appear. Makeup can help accentuate the look, particularly in the case of characters with unique features, such as whiskers, elf ears, etc. If a cosplayer wants to portray Naruto as Sage, they must pay attention to the orange/red hue of his eyes.

2. Creativity

Fans have full creative freedom to make their characters look more attractive if they are identifiable. One of the most well-known ways to alter the appearance of a character is to make a gender swap. Gender swaps alter the gender of a character and alter the outfit accordingly. The Try Guys, for instance, decided to gender-swap with the male version of the Sailor Scouts.

It is also possible to alter the costume to suit an alternative theme, such as steampunk or Victorian. It’s a fun way to express your creativity. But, it might not be possible to locate an image of the reference. The addition of too many modifications risks onlookers not recognizing the character, and it can be tiring to endlessly answer the question “Who are you supposed to be?”

3. Confidence

The confidence of a person makes them distinguish themselves from other people wearing the same costume. The way a person is dressed and how they interact affects the overall experience, even though it can be uncomfortable for first-time cosplayers. But confidence can be built when the person is willing to expose themselves in the public. Kristen Lanae is a cosplayer and a shy woman who credits cosplay for making her feel more confident. In an interview with the Daily Mail, she says, “I have always been extremely shy and quiet, but when I am dressed in costumes, I am a riot. I’d say that it is due to all the positive reactions I experience in costume.”

There is plenty of community support for those who want to participate in cosplay. You can post pictures of your progress and get help on how to make a particular object or piece of clothing. Fans can support their co-workers by commenting on their social media profiles to show appreciation. However, with any art, there is always a risk that people may not appreciate the beauty or may find it confusing. Cosplay is the art of the physical. That means there are a lot more risks than just not knowing what the cosplayer is wearing.

Cosplay The Risques

1. Sexual Harassment

Certain characters are designed to be provocative and may have high school uniforms or spandex bodysuits. The fans can lose sight of the people inside these costumes and get caught up in fantasies about their favorite character. This is a problem because several cases of sexual harassment have been reported by cosplayers who are looking forward to attending conventions. Some women have been groped and others have been made to leave due to not fitting into a specific costume. Therefore, organizers are trying to bring awareness to this problem by implementing anti-harassment guidelines. At New York’s Comic Con, attendees can be able to see a huge sign that reads ‘Cosplay Is Not Consent to be a part of the convention’s festivities’ and that everyone should be treated with respect.

Cosplaying as a character should not invite sexual harassment or lewd comments. You should have fun with it and not be afraid of harassment.

2. Judgment

As previously stated there are a few fans that are caught up on how a character should be in reality. In the end, judgment is passed on to cosplayers who don’t look as they would in real life, which is the wrong practice for this art form. Shapes and sizes are possible. It is not acceptable to be judged on their appearance because they do not fit the body of the character. Yaya Han is a well-known cosplayer that is a fan of all cosplaying bodies.

Everyone should have a wonderful time playing cosplay. Although there are some negative aspects within the community, there are plenty of positive aspects. Hence, people should not be put off from playing their favorite character. Cosplaying provides the opportunity to make connections with others who have similar interests, and a chance to be another person for the day. This is a great way to show your fandom and meet other people with similar interests. In the end, how often do you ever get to see Naruto take a lunch break with Superman?

Cosplay has evolved from masquerading into an art form. Although it can be considered mimicry, some individuals put their creative twist into their costumes and overall appearance. What once was a hobby has allowed participants to make careers out of cosplaying, which demonstrates the prevalence of cosplay in society. It has become part of the subculture, and can no longer be considered ‘dress up for adults’.

Cosplay can be described as an art form since it lets people express their creativity by transforming into different characters. Like all other forms of art, begins with enthusiasm and then becomes tangible once the person decides on how to make it come to life.

Works are cited

Ashcraft, Brian, and Luke Plunkett. Kotaku 22 October 2014. “Where is the word “Cosplay?” Comes from. Web.

BuzzFeedVideo. Video clip online. Youtube, 2 Aug 2015. Web.

BuzzFeedYellow. “Why I play cosplay.” Video clip. YouTube, 9 September 2014. Web.

Don. “Jessica Nigri.” Know Your Meme News. Cheezburger Inc., n.d. Web.

Gallagher, Luke. Gallagher Luke. Web.

Kondolojy Amanda L. “Playing Dress up for Adults The History of Cosplay” Cheat Code Central, n.d. Web.

Morgan, Maybelle. “Shy Cosplay Fanatic Reveals How Dressing as Iconic Action and Fantasy Heroines Aided her in overcoming a lifetime of low self-esteem.” Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, 27 Jul 2015. Web.

Mexican, Darth. “Cosplay Crisis: Scammed And Left In Another Country.” The Geek Lyfe. 14 July 2015. Web.

Raymond, Adam K. “75 Years of Capes and Face Paint: A History of Cosplay.” Yahoo, 24 July 2015. Web.

Romano, Andrea. “Cosplay Is Not Consent: The People Fighting Sexual Harassment at Comic-Con.” Mashable. N.p., 15 Oct. 2014. Web.

White, Kaila. Azcentral. N.p., 4 June 2014. Web.

The image featured was taken by Florea Flavia.