Everyone is thinking about Halloween costumes as Halloween is just around the corner. People who usually wear T-shirts and jeans are suddenly eyeing colorful spandex, capes, wigs, and corsets and are opening their wallets to acquire the outfit that will show their image to the world in the form of somebody or something — they’re not.
However, for those who cosplay — who dress in costumes to role-play characters from TV, movies, shows, comics, books, and video games, the challenge of transformation is one they happily take on at different times throughout the year.
Cosplayers can put in a lot of money, time, and effort designing unique head-to-toe displays. Certain designs incorporate intricate accessories, body or facial prosthetics, complicated electronic parts that work, or even working electronic parts. Other costumes make it more difficult for wearers to see and move. [ Comic Con Cosplay Pictures of the Amazing Costumes[ ]
What is it that inspires cosplayers to be so creative? Psychologists and cosplayers studying the phenomenon can reveal the personal and social characteristics which make dressing up appealing and rewarding.
To love costumes
From October. 6-9 the 6th, thousands of cosplayers took part in New York Comic Con 2016 (NYCC), costumed as superheroes and supervillains, Jedi and Sith Ghostbusters Starfleet officers, Hogwarts students and teachers, and many, many other characters.
“Cosplay is a joy for me,” Edgar Roldan, a cosplayer and NYCC attendee, told Live Science recently.
Roldan — who wore a furry, blue suit and a large head to represent Happy from “Fairy Tale” (Del Rey Manga) — said the most satisfying part of cosplay was “just being yourself — being who and whatever you want.”
Others NYCC cosplayers claimed that cosplay enabled them to explore their creative side especially when a large portion of their costume was handmade. Live Science spoke with Joe Bokanoski, Mike Labarge, and Mike Labarge about how they created their costumes. They created post-apocalyptic versions of DC Comics’ Captain America (and his arch-nemesis, Red Skull) by searching at junkyards and flea markets.
Their clothes were heavy and heavy. They were excited to wear the outfits despite their discomfort and the appreciation they provoked.
Bokanoski said, “It’s worthwhile just to make people smile on their faces.”
Living with a character
If a cosplayer chooses to wear an outfit it is usually because they tap into a specific character -or even a mix of characters — because something about that role resonates with them according to Robin S. Rosenberg, Clinical psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Rosenberg, who has written extensively on how people perceive and appreciate fictional characters, especially superheroes said in Live Science that she became interested in studying cosplay after seeing cosplayers at conventions where she gave talks.
“We are aware from the psychology of our world that we all have different roles throughout the day and week,” Rosenberg said. “Different aspects of me — like ‘psychologist’, wife,’ mother” — come into focus in various contexts. I was curious about the way people could take on a character and what happens when they don’t dress in costumes.
Rosenberg said that certain costumes can help individuals deal with their issues. If you’re someone who’s suffered trauma, Batman can be a meaningful choice of cosplay. Batman suffered from horrific trauma as young and witnessed the horrific murder of his parents- which he overcame to become a hero.
“When people dress up as Batman, many talk about having [experienced] their own traumatic experiences,” Rosenberg said. “He did not go through it, but gained meaning and purpose through his experiences, and that is inspiring to them.”
Rosenberg pointed out the fact that Wonder Woman is yet another timeless and popular choice that resonates with women of all ages, in part because she is a standout in the male-dominated realm of comic superheroes in costume. Rosenberg stated that Wonder Woman costumes are a way for cosplayers to show their appreciation and celebrate the power of Wonder Woman.
Recently, a series of photos on Instagram with a girl aged 3 dressed in the character of Wonder Woman quickly went viral. Her father, a photographer, said he not just “fulfilled my daughter’s desire of being Wonder Woman” by creating an elaborate costume but also staged a photo shoot that included his daughter in the scenes of the upcoming movie, due in theaters June 2 on the 2nd of June, 2017. The girl’s smiles in the photos show that she was elated about her new position as a superhero. [ DIY Halloween costumes: 7 Creative Getups to Any Party]
Cosplay is a form of performance. Dressing up in a costume makes a visible declaration of the wearer’s dedication to a certain character or fandom. It also encourages people to come up to the character to snap photos and converse. This is why it was surprising for Rosenberg to learn through her interactions with cosplayers that a lot of them identified as introverts.
“When they donned costumes and were socially outgoing,” Rosenberg said. Rosenberg explained that wearing a costume could help a person tap into the confidence they don’t have and aid in overcoming shyness in real life.
Rosenberg declared that wearing costumes, particularly cosplay can allow you to become independent of yourself. “But on the other hand, it can summon something in you that’s not normally brought out.”
Building a community
Costume play doesn’t just impart powers upon individuals but also fosters an atmosphere of community, according to Michael Nguyen, a cosplayer and costuming columnist for the “Star Trek” news site Trekmovie.com. “Star Trek” was Nguyen’s gateway to cosplay, he said in Live Science. He discovered a wide network of people who were attracted to Star Trek and the world they lived in, by making and wearing Star Trek costumes.
“In Star Trek, there’s this idea of unity and diversity,” Nguyen said. “It portrays a future a lot of people want to believe in.”
He stated, “They’re doctors, attorneys, and students in Ph.D. programs — just people who like to be expressive and to talk about what they envision the future to be.” [ 10 Futuristic Technologies Star Trek’s Fans Would Like to SeeCosplayers are from of all walks of life.
Nguyen also organizes bimonthly events for Star Trek fans in New York City. The concept was first introduced to five people in 2013 before it was expanded to 50-60 participants three years after. Nguyen spoke of friendships he’s made over the years with people who live thousands of miles away, and with whom he’s been able to share the joy of “needing out” over science fiction and who have inspired his cosplay creativity.
“Costuming is more enjoyable if you are doing it with other people,” Nguyen told Live Science. “You create your look, but you also feel part of a universe when you’re surrounded by others who enjoy it as much as you do.”
NYCC cosplayers agreed. Live Science spoke with a woman who wore the She-Ra Princess of Power costume from the television show “Masters of the Universe”. She said that cosplay was her favorite part of being a cosplayer.
“It isn’t important how you look or who you’re wearing,” she said. It’s a community. It’s like a big family. Once a year, I go and see people that I haven’t seen but once every year, and it’s just great.”
A woman who wore a costume of the character of a Hogwarts student from the “Harry Potter” books and films described taking part in the “flashmob” at NYCC in which 75 people in Potterverse cosplay came together for a photo and for one participant to propose to his partner.
She said, “It’s wearing one’s interests on the body.” “It’s a great method to bridge the gap and find the most common ground.”