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  • Writer's pictureIndra Rojas

From Insecurities to Empowerment: My Cosplay Evolution

When I initially ventured into the world of cosplay, I felt an undeniable sense of comfort and donned a variety of costumes, some of which were quite revealing. My journey was not without its trials, though, and I even found myself being asked to leave a convention once due to my cosplay being "too skimpy".

People would approach me and question whether I was embarrassed by my attire, but at the time, I genuinely didn't see it as a big deal. In those early days, I considered my choices appropriate and not at all extreme. Little did I realize that what I perceived as harmless, such as sporting a high-cut bathing suit, was seen by some as obscene.

Cosplay marked the first occasion in my life when I truly felt confident and happy with my appearance. However, as time went on, I began to notice a pervasive emphasis on specific body types within the cosplay community. Unfortunately, the online world was rife with body-shaming, and it seemed that whether I was super slim or on the curvier side, someone always had something negative to say.

Around 2013, I had a burning desire to cosplay as Katarina from League of Legends. I was plagued by insecurities about my body and felt that I could never truly resemble her unless I transformed and lost a lot weight. It's essential to clarify that these thoughts were confined to my own self-doubt and never extended to others. I never believed that someone's weight determined their suitability for a character or the quality of their cosplays. However, I had been conditioned to harbor such thoughts about myself for a long time.

In an attempt to overcome these insecurities, I embarked on a weight loss journey and reached an astonishing 118 pounds (considerably underweight for my 5'6" frame). While I felt I looked better physically, it began to dawn on me that this pursuit wasn't just about me or my health. The motivation provided by cosplay should be empowering, not self-destructive.

Subsequently, I endeavored to focus on cosplays that made me feel comfortable and even made adjustments to costume designs to ensure I always felt at ease. I didn't want to constantly worry about my body's appearance and end up looking anxious or uncomfortable in photos. However, recently, I started incorporating shapewear and paying attention to lighting techniques during photo editing to enhance the way I looked in costumes. On the surface, this might seem quite normal, but I caught myself scrutinizing my own body during the editing process.

Strangely enough, I was perfectly content with my body outside of cosplay. What was going on? I couldn't help but notice this disparity and decided I needed to be kinder to myself. Time changes people, both physically and mentally. It's unreasonable to expect myself to look or feel the same as I did almost 20 years ago when I first began my cosplay journey, right?

Well, a few weeks ago, I joined some friends for a photoshoot in a studio. I got into my costume, set everything up, and as I began taking photos and monitoring my progress, I was suddenly overwhelmed by disappointment and insecurity about my body. I found myself thinking, "Wow, I've gained so much weight," and lamenting that my costume felt tighter. But then I stopped that negative self-talk and reminded myself that I was doing something fun, surrounded by friends, and involved in a fantastic creative endeavor. I wasn't going to let those insecurities prevail! I needed a moment to refocus, and once I did, everything went smoothly.

I've experienced other moments like that, particularly when I wear older costumes.

Coming to terms with aging and the physical changes in cosplay has been a challenging lesson, even though in my everyday life, I feel confident and beautiful. I'm not entirely sure if it's because my brain believes I should strive to resemble a character, adhere to unrealistic standards, or if it's the result of seeing so many stunning cosplayers and inadvertently comparing myself to them.

I'm still on a journey of self-discovery, but one thing I've realized is that while my body has changed, so have my skills and knowledge. Growing as a cosplayer and artist will always be the most important aspect. Perhaps the acceptance I've been seeking all along begins with me.

In the end, what truly matters is the passion and creativity we bring to our cosplays. Embracing our uniqueness and finding joy in the characters we portray is what makes this community so remarkable. Remember, your worth isn't measured by the size or shape of your body. Your confidence shines through when you exude your love for the art of cosplay. Let's continue to support and uplift one another, celebrating the diverse beauty that each of us brings to this incredible world of imagination and transformation. Together, we can conquer our insecurities and keep on cosplaying with pride and enthusiasm, no matter how much time may pass. After all, it's not about the costumes alone; it's about the extraordinary journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance that cosplay enables. So, step into the spotlight, embrace your unique journey, and keep cosplaying with passion and confidence!

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