Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flashback: New-Found Love for Cosplaying

So I made a promise to myself when I started college and I first heard of the world of cosplaying: If I ever got to the level that I deemed skinny enough, I would start cosplaying. Well, thanks to Germany and the swine flu (let me tell you how much fun THAT was), I lost the 30 pounds I needed, and the time came for con season again.

For those of you who don't know, cosplay is a blend of "costume" and "play". Basically, imagine Halloween in America, how a lot of people go as movie characters, comic book characters, celebrities, etc. That's all cosplaying. A friend of mine joked once that Halloween has basically turned into "National Cosplay Day". I can't help but agree, but unlike him, I think it's a good thing.

What Tifa's supposed to look like.
So this fall, I had the body I needed, now I needed to come up with the costume. I had the idea a couple of years ago to be Tifa Lockheart from Final Fantasy VII, and it seemed like as good a time as any (if you haven't played this game yet, do it NOW). She was a character who I felt like I could relate to (at the time), and my body type is very similar to hers (for those of you who don't know, Tifa is known physically for her gigantic...ahem...lungs). The only thing I really needed to do was to put the costume together.

My Tifa costume.
Now as any true nerd will tell you, if you're going to cosplay, you'd better do it right. You technically can buy your costume from a costume shop, but odds are it won't look as good or authentic. A true geek will make their costume lovingly from scratch, sewing each stitch. I prefer the half and half method: I'll buy the pieces all separately from places like Walmart or Goodwill, and put them together myself. I was fortunate that the costume I chose was very simple: a sports bra (Walmart), a mini-skirt (which I already had by coincidence from Germany), boots (epic boots which I also bought in Germany), suspenders (Junkman's Daughter's Brother, an awesome local store), and 3 pairs of gloves (Party City. Sometimes you have to cave and end up at the costume store anyway). All in all, it turned out pretty well, I think. The only problem was that I'm technically not Asian (and by technically, I mean not at all, so there was a slight hitch in playing a Japanese video game character).

I found this picture at kotaku.com!
Finally the day arrived for me to test out my newly put together costume: Dragon Con. For those of you who are only hearing about the nerdier side of life for the first time in this blog (or people who may live in another country), Dragon Con is one of the largest conventions on the East Coast. It takes place in downtown Atlanta throughout 4 different (but HUGE) hotels. People book the hotel rooms and buy their tickets a year in advance to come to this thing...needless to say, it's kind of a big deal. I was originally going to go with a couple of friends of mine, but that didn't happen. They bailed on me at the last possible moment. I almost didn't go, but after considering it for a minute, I realized that there was no way I was going to waste this opportunity. So it was with great excitement that I drove down to Atlanta. The most amusing part of the trip was when I had to get gas. Most people were not prepared to see a girl dressed like a video game character pumping gas.

When I got closer to the city, I had a horrible realization: I didn't actually know where the convention actually was. I took a random exit and hoped for the best. I wasn't lost for long: soon I saw one person dressed rather eccentrically, then another, then a whole crowd... Sure enough, I got lucky and picked the right exit on my first try. I quickly found parking, and headed into the nearest hotel full of nerds.

As this was my first convention, my first impression was: I'm home. Never once in my life have I felt so...normal. I saw people from every comic imaginable, from every video game, from things I've never even heard of before. I immediately regretted only coming for one day, and not actually buying a ticket to the show room, and promised myself then and there that I'd stay for the whole time next year.

The Jawas have taken Tifa hostage!
It was the first time I'd ever felt like a superstar. People would stop me every once in a while and ask to take my picture. Sometimes other people would come up while other people were taking my picture and it ended up being a paparazzi of sorts. My favorite set was when I "taken hostage" by two Jawas. The entire experience was so surreal; I felt like I was living in a fan fiction.

Going to the con had its dark side, however. A few less savory guys decided that I was the girl of their dreams, and they followed me around the whole day. Don't worry, nothing happened. I stayed where there were a lot of people, and I remained rape free. I did get molested by people dressed up as the pope with vibrators in their clothes who claimed to worship science, but to be fair, they were molesting everyone. I kinda liked those guys...

At about 8 or so, I decided that I was exhausted and it was probably time to head home. I shook off my stalker, headed back to my car, and drove home. It was truly an amazing day. When I got home, I told my roommates about my adventure, and one of them (Allie) said, "Well, you know AWA is just a couple of weeks away, right?" (AWA stands for Anime Weekend Atlanta. AKA-Another nerd convention). Suddenly Tifa was going to have one last hurrah.

Imagine this cupcake with a grumpy face.
Flash forward to AWA day. Once again, I only went for the day. This time, however, I had friends come with me and we bought day passes. I was also the only one who cosplayed out of the four of us. This con was a lot smaller, and took place in an Atlanta suburb instead of actual downtown. The crowd was also a lot younger; I felt like one of the few people there who had actually hit puberty. That being said, I certainly did not act my age, because I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I set a small budget for myself, and bought a bunch of little things, like a stuffed 1-up mushroom, a small Tifa figurine (I figured it was a celebration of successfully cosplaying as her), and a grumpy cupcake. I also got to do a small photo shoot with other people who were dressed in Final Fantasy costumes, including a bunch of other Tifas. Now Tifa technically has two costumes: the original game one, and the one that she wore in the movie Advent Children. I wore the original game costume, but it seemed like the majority of other girls who dressed as Tifa seemed to all wear the Advent Children costume (which is a bit more conservative than the game costume. It makes sense I guess, seeing as how all the other Tifas couldn't have been older than 15).

Here are some pictures I took of other cosplayers:

I found Waldo!
Old Link and New Link face off in an epic battle!
The Powerpuff...Girls?

Dr. Horrible and his Freeze Ray!
Sephiroth (the bad guy), Tifa, and Cloud (the love interest)
All the Sailor planet girls (and guys!)
A ripped Incredible Hulk
Homage to an internet meme.
The cast of Final Fantasy XIII

Tifas galore!

The one disadvantage to going to a con with friends is that when they're tired, you have to leave. It was with much sadness that I said goodbye to this con as well. I knew at this point I was a complete con addict. I'm already planning for Dragon Con next year, and was even asked to speak at a Star Trek convention (I wrote a paper about constructed languages, and Klingon happened to be on the list). I can't wait to decide what costume I'm going to do next...


  1. Awesome post and pictures! Found the blog on Reddit, looking forward to reading the rest of it!

  2. I was the last Dragon Con. Spotting Waldo in a crowd of people coming out of some panel was just about the most exciting moment for me. I had to ask myself if this was real life.