Behind the Capes of Cosplay

A closer look into the reasons why people pour in hours for their cosplay

Photo+of+Andrea+Diaz+as+Pocahontas+by+Tiffany+Chien.

Photo of Andrea Diaz as Pocahontas by Tiffany Chien.

A little girl pulls out her chest of costumes, throws on her black wig, puts on her favorite Wonder Woman costume and runs around playing the part. The brave and kind personality has inspired her for as long as she could remember. A woman slips on her handmade Wonder Woman costume, once again, an effort that took hours to cut, glue and sew together. The act of dressing up has evolved into cosplay, where adults can freely reminisce back to the day where they could dress up and play the part.

People swarm to events like Comic Con, Anime Expo and Gamescom, places where they are free to meet and express themselves with a community of people who have similar interests. These events are not always targeted for the cosplay audience, but there are other panels, merchandise and speakers that they admire at these events that have them dress up for the occasion.

There are a large variety of characters to choose from, which in turn creates an abundance of communities within the cosplay community itself. There is a place for all interests — from anime, to Marvel, to Disney — there is a community for everyone.

Andrea Diaz, 24, a physical therapist aide, enjoys cosplaying in her free time. Diaz has created various looks from Loki in the Marvel Series to Pocahontas, also including smaller characters such as Janis Ian from “Mean Girls.”

For Diaz, her love for cosplay started on Halloween, when a rush for a last minute costume turned into a project.

“I want to be Pocahontas,” Diaz said. “I looked over in my closet and I had this long skirt.”

The old, long, brown, unworn skirt inspired Diaz.

“I also had a curtain hanging and I cut it to make the fringe and Playdoh that I baked to make her necklace,” Diaz said.

There are a variety of objects and materials Diaz uses for her costumes including toys, clothing from thrift stores, cereal boxes and household objects. Diaz utilizes many sources from dollar stores and thrift stores, sometimes even getting help from her supportive older brother, who helped her with one of her most recent costumes, Iron Spiderman.

The costume was created from a simple one-piece Spiderman suit from Amazon and adding long PVC pipes attached to lemon squeezers that she found at the dollar store. A little bit of spray paint brought the look together, making for a perfect Iron Spiderman costume, her new favorite.

In the beginning, Diaz’s family wasn’t interested in her craft, but they turned over a new leaf. Diaz talked about how at first their comments weren’t favorable.

“You shouldn’t do that,” they would say.

“Now I’ll walk out in horror make-up and they’ll be like ‘That looks really good and convincing,’” Diaz said.

For Diaz, cosplay is dressing up and taking pictures as a creative output. It eventually became easy to create friendships with others in the community who enjoy her work or have similar interests.

“I am in an Instagram cosplay family group,” Diaz said. “We will all meet up and take pictures.”

There are many other cosplayers who will get into their characters and carry their persona while in costume.

Another cosplayer and Mt. SAC student, Ryza Corcino, 21, was inspired to cosplay after watching Youtubers dress up frequently.

“It was like Halloween everyday!” Corcino said.

Corcino’s favorite costume was the Winter Soldier from Captain America, when she was able to utilize craft foam and turn it into what looked like a metal arm.

“People thought it was made out of metal and that was pretty cool,” Corcino said.

Corcino enjoys cosplaying wilder characters that don’t line up with her shy personality and uses her characters to become more outgoing.

“I dressed up as Dave Strider from ‘Homestuck’ and it was fun being silly,” Corcino said.

For Diaz, costumes will usually cost no more than $25 and they can often be interchangeable to fit multiple costumes. For Corcino, she will spend approximately $150 or more on her costumes, but reuse them if possible. There is no perfect way to cosplay, but for many, it is a fun hobby that brings joy.

“My favorite part is probably the satisfaction of seeing the finished product,” Corcino said.

The cosplay community is all inclusive and welcoming, allowing endless possibilities for anyone interested in being an active participant. There are many driving factors that bring people to this community and catalyze its growth. Everyone has different reasons, but they all gather for their passion in role playing and costuming.

“I think everyone should try it,” Diaz said. “It is a very accepting community.”