Who had a dressing up box as a kid? Most kids love an excuse for fancy dress, be it birthday parties, Halloween or just whatever takes their fancy to get out that Princess dress or Spiderman outfit. Somewhere, as we get older, it stops being ok to dress up whenever you feel like it, and the dressing up box gets relegated to occasional costumes on socially acceptable occasions, which can be few and far between.
Unless of course, you’re a cosplayer…
Cosplay, or ‘costume play’, is often defined as performance art, rather than straight up fancy dress. The costumes, designed to represent a specific character, and interaction between cosplayers, have created a huge sub-culture, now largely associated with fan conventions across sci-fi and fantasy films and television, manga, comics, games and anime.
But why do it all? From the outside, cosplay can seem like a weird thing to spend your time doing. Cosplayers can often spend months sourcing and crafting costumes, all for a couple of days walking around a convention hall.
For me, there’s something very special about cosplay. Stepping into another persona for a day, or a weekend, is a powerful feeling that lets you leave behind the real world. I started dabbling in cosplay a little while ago, with a group of friends, but 2014 was the year it became something really important in my life. I added Poison Ivy to my cosplay repertoire and something just clicked. It was different to anything I’d cosplayed before and I suddenly understood why people spend the time and the money they do to be a part of this community.
After a rough few months, spending a few days at a convention feeling like the best super-villain that ever was, everything felt…easier. A little bit of Poison Ivy stayed with me. Back in reality, the stresses and worries of the last months were easier to carry. I could tap into that strength and confidence I’d put on in my Ivy persona. And that was amazing.
The community is the most important part of it for me. Since starting to cosplay Poison Ivy, I’ve met some amazing people. I always enjoy chatting to people at conventions, but since getting involved with the gang of misfits known as Gotham Cosplayers, I’ve been part of mad photo-shoots, made new ‘real-life’ friends, and found myself sitting in Pizza Express with several Jokers, Harleys and the Riddler. And who doesn’t want that?