Cosplay, Then and Now
So, I've been cosplaying for 12 years now (almost 13) and I have spent that time growing and making myself into a better person and cosplayer. In only 10 years, cosplay and the community has changed so much, for the better. There are still things that need improving, but although change is constant, it is slow. I was thinking for this article, we talk about the differences between when I first started cosplaying versus now.
Wigs: We'll start off with the most common thing, wigs. When I first started cosplaying, you spent $25 on a crappy, thin wig that you couldn't brush or half the wefts would come out, or it just tangled and you suffered with it. Now, we have this beautiful, lush wigs for the same price and in so many amazing colors. There's also not just one seller for these great wigs, and you can even find some cheaper, decent wigs that aren't super thin. I know a couple of my friends have even been able to find lace front wigs for a good price on Amazon. Plus, the style game has gotten crazy talented and it's amazing. (On the left is a wig commonly found in 2009, and the right is from Arda's Iron Wig challenge)
Contacts: Back in my day, they charged you $70 per contact, not pair. You also had to go to some sketchy websites to order from. There was also not as many colors, or prescriptions. If you needed prescription lenses, you'd be looking at closer to $200 per pair. It was absolutely insane. You had to choose between seeing and being accurate. Now a days, you can buy almost 3 pairs for the original amount, plus get them in your prescription for no extra cost. Most websites will even send you an extra pair for free (usually random). I actually got lucky and was able to get a pair of brown contacts when ordering some I needed for other cosplays, so now I can have brown eyes whenever I feel like it.
Armor making: It used to be that you had to make you armor and props out of worbla. It was super expensive, heavy, and not as versatile as eva foam. You'd barely be able to move and you'd overheat very quickly. There also wasn't as much knowledge with armor building, so it seemed like a more difficult build than it is now. There are so many new things now that can complete your armor builds, it's insane. Plus, you can find so many of them in stores when when you crunch. They've even come out with foam clay???? Like, that is so amazing and I can't wait to try it out for myself. I know that within the last couple years that armor making has become a more accessible form of cosplaying and that's so incredible to me. I never thought I would have been making armor and creating amazing works of art when I first started out. My friend Al (nwyfrecosplay) is such a fantastic example of someone who hasn't been cosplaying for long and has still come out with amazing works of art. If you don't follow him on instagram, you definitely should. He even won Master Class at Cosplacon last weekend and I am just so proud of him!
(The second photo is a great side by side of KamuiCosplay)
The Community: We have evolved so much. While there is still elitism, racism, and a lot of prejudice, we have all worked so hard to create a safe place for ourselves and new people coming into the community. When I first started going to conventions, people would actively carry "Yaoi" and "Yuri" paddles and smack everyone on the butt, even if they were a minor, and even if they said "No." Consent has become super important in the cosplay community and we have each other to thank. While it does still happen, there are more and more cases of people speaking up on the behalf of the victims and the victims coming forward so that we are able to avoid and possibly kick out those toxic people. I've also noticed that there are so many more people coming out against racism too. I myself do not stand for seeing or hearing people talk down about other cosplayers for their skin tone. You should not feel like you are ugly in the skin you were born with. Hopefully, within the next ten years, we won't have this issue at all and can just have fun being the nerds we are.