Cosplaying: Do it for yourself, not the contest

This post is part of a series in partnership with Raleigh Supercon.

The cosplay contestants from PlayThrough Con

I saw the new Beauty and the Beast movie on opening night, and of course, I went in costume with a group of friends. We had a blast and ended up being featured on the movie theater’s Facebook page. And yes, we were the only five people dressed up in the theater. I will take any opportunity to wear a costume. I love dressing up, which is why I jumped to do my first cosplay at last year’s OakCity Comicon.

Our Facebook photo

Problem was I had never really sewed before. I am a wiz at thrift-find transformation, but sewing from scratch? Not my thing. I own a sewing machine, so at least I had that going for me.  Armed with YouTube sewing tutorials, I was determined to make something, especially since I saw that the con had a novice category in the cosplay contest. After racking my mind and look at all the patterns I foolishly (but cheaply) purchased when Jo-Anna Fabric closed, I decided to make an Arrietty costume from the Ghibli film The Secret Life of Arrietty.

Cats do not make good cosplay helpers…especially for first time sewers!

I started making the dress with grand ideas of cosplay glory. I saw myself as Sandra Bullock winning the Miss Congeniality of Cosplay. And know what happened? We missed most of the con because I was finishing the costume in the hotel room. We even did renegade crafting in the car with my husband painting my hair piece and me hot gluing stuff together in the parking garage. “Pro” cosplay tip: Raleigh, NC parking garages have outlets, which are the perfect place to do that last minute costume tweaks. (I really, really wish I could say I have only used this tip once. But I would be lying.)

I stressed and even cried over this costume all for the contest. I didn’t make the costume for me, and that took away a lot of the fun. What made it worse was the judges didn’t even know this Ghibli film. But you know who did? The people at the con. I got constantly asked to take pictures and if people could pose with my giant straight pin sword. They made the work worth it and made me so happy.

That is when I learn that you cosplay for yourself, not for a contest. I had lost sight of what I enjoyed: dressing up to make others smile. Yes, I do still plan on entering contests, but I am never going to let myself get that shortsighted again. I truly admire those who put months and months of work into costumes. I hope to get to their level one day, but I am not there yet.

I think my last con cosplay, Toad from Nintendo, is the perfect example of just cosplaying for fun. The costume was a last minute decision, and I went into the process with the mindset of “If I don’t finish or it doesn’t work out, I am totally going to rock out my new Star Wars t-shirt.” I also figured that since only about 50% was homemade, I wouldn’t enter the cosplay contest. I honestly just wanted an excuse to make a mushroom hat.

We got to Playthrough Con and was told I had to get judged because my costume was so cute, so I did and the judges loved my costume! I didn’t win anything, but their squees over my hat made it worth it. I had so much more fun at that contest because I did the costume for myself, not for cosplay glory. I will leave the glory to the woman who was dressed as Claptrap.

I am on the fence if I will enter one of the four cosplay contests at Supercon, but I do know that I am going to be dressed up for each day of the con and I am having a blast deciding who to be and what to wear. I already know that I am pulling out my trusty pattern to make a better Mrs. Pott’s outfit, because who wouldn’t want to meet Paige O’Hara while dressed as a teapot? After all, having fun is what it is all about.



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2 thoughts on “Cosplaying: Do it for yourself, not the contest

  1. Hi. My fiancé, my son, and I are going this year for the first time. I’m from NC as well Originally Richmond Co. I live in Jacksonville NC now. We would love to meet up with you guys or even have a chance to ask questions soon. My email is and facebook is Amanda English. Thanks!

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