When Imaginary Becomes Reality
“Mrs. Parsons, are you a Jedi?”
I chuckled and said, “No, this is the real me. I just dress in costume as a teacher the rest of the year.”
Headshakes, puzzled looks, a few hesitant giggles, then class moves on.
Actually, I an X-wing pilot, but since I had to leave my blaster at home, it’s kinda hard to identify me. Or swap the blaster for a bow and quiver and I make a pretty convincing elf.
What makes it difficult to identify my costumes is they are so ordinary. A few tweaks are all that’s needed to distinguish the costume from reality. And I do it on purpose. Although I love costumes and dressing up, I’m too much of an introvert to be comfortable in complete costume in public.
Maybe it harks back to elementary school days and the paranoia that my costume wouldn’t meet approval with my peers. After all, nobody dressed up like sci fi characters in those days in rural, small town America.
Whatever the reason, I tend to downplay my “costumes,” so most days only I know which character I’m playing that day.
Which brings me to cosplay and the trend of more and more adults to spend boatloads of money on costumes that last longer than the 30-minute walk around the neighborhood to collect treats. It’s like giving adults a free pass to relive their childhood days playing dress up.
Some folks are pretty ingenious when it comes to parading around as their favorite anime or cosplay character. Then there are those larping folks who stay in character no matter where they are. Awesome!
I’ve seen a few adults (the no nonsense kind (and no fun kind!) who raise eyebrows at cosplay and make disparaging remarks like “when are you going to grow up?” Too bad they miss out on the real benefit of cosplay: to make us comfortable with who we really are and brave enough to let that person out in public.
Cosplay is wonderful, and one day I’m going to get up enough nerve to go all out on a costume and actually find like-minded adults to hang out with. As a wise X-wing pilot once said, “You can’t look dignified when you’re having fun.” You just have to choose your moments.