Ever wondered how to get into cosplay? Read below to hear about what makes it great, from one of our XOXO colleagues! And if you’re attending NYCC this week, don’t forget to visit us at the Simon & Schuster booth for fun prizes, giveaways, and free books! More information can be found here.

Copyright Yuki Smith 2017

This post might also be called “NO, YOU’RE NOT TOO UGLY TO COSPLAY.” With NYCC upon us, it is important to remember that cosplay is for everyone and nobody can tell you otherwise! Body positivity, the idea of erasing a set standard of beauty, plays a role in cosplaying because your options become very limited if you decide that you need to have a particular ‘body type’ to dress up. The best cosplayers I have seen have one thing in common: they don’t give a damn if you think their cosplay is inappropriate. It’s important to erase the preconceived notions of beauty that exist among us because there is no room for it in the cosplay community. The Sailor Moon Photoshoot (organized by a devoted fan) is my favorite example of women and men of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors coming together to wear ridiculously short skirts, gigantic wings, and colorful wigs that defy gravity. It’s a fun gathering where people can form lifetime friendships. Despite this, con-going isn’t always filled with rainbows and puppies. Experienced cosplayers know that people can be downright mean to both skinny and large cosplayers. People who are jealous of your confidence will find any excuse to knock you down for having freckles, a big nose, or a small chest. If you’re a man, you’re not excluded. Mean-spirited ‘fans’ will find a way to complain about your muscles being too small for your Vegeta cosplay. To those people, it doesn’t matter if you memorized your character’s lines and spent hours making armor. After all, cosplayers are going to get attention because they stand out in a sea of t-shirts and jeans.

Cosplay is about pushing negative thoughts out of your head and getting behind your sewing machine to whip up something wonderful. It’s about bringing a new character to a convention and feeling good because you’ve watched every episode of Tsubasa and spent several hours wondering how you’re going to make a kimono that can’t exist in real life. It’s about questioning the yards of fabric listed on a pattern you need to customize. How much fabric will I waste sewing drafts? How many hours is it going to take to sew appliques and paint my shoes? It is also about being in the moment—hold on a sec, oh my god, the convention is tomorrow and I didn’t style my wig yet! That is the essence of cosplay.

When someone asks for a picture, you know you’re awesome because you can respond in character and strike a pose. It’s about meeting other fans and having fun without worrying about the naysayers. It’s also about that little girl dressed like Sailor Chibi Moon who wants a picture with you because you’re the best Queen Serenity she’s ever seen. She’s not thinking about your skin color, weight, height, or flaws. All she sees is glitter, sparkles, and the magic of cosplay!