It’s not uncommon to see a few people walking the streets of downtown Fredericton dressed up in detailed or odd costumes during the summer. No, it’s not Halloween, it’s something called cosplay.
For people who do not know, cosplay can be described as dressing up in a costume of your favourite character from a movie, TV show, comic, or anything else. Most people commonly cosplay as anime characters from shows like Naruto, Inuyasha, Bleach, and many more.
To some people, dressing up in costume is only something they do once a year, but for people like third year student Marie Meade, it’s something she enjoys doing whenever she gets the chance. Meade has always loved dressing up as her favourite characters, even from a young age. One memory in particular was when her mother let her have a belly-dancer costume.
“I really liked this pink belly-dancer costume for Halloween one year,” said Meade. “And she was like ‘Okay, yeah.’ Like, it’s not an evil character cause like my mom had something against me doing villains. ‘So you know what, I’ll let you get it.’ And then she was like ‘Oh look you’re a belly-dancer; that’s a really nice belly-dancer costume.’ No. I am Jeannie from I dream of Jeannie.”
Meade enjoys dressing up like the villain Regina from the show Once Upon a Time, although she has also dressed up as other characters like Tohru Honda from the anime Fruits Basket. Meade likes to make her own costumes herself from old fabrics or from regular clothing items she alters herself.
Other cosplayers like Kristin Wyrwas enjoys putting a spin on popular characters. Wyrwas has made female characters of Iron Man and Captain America. She named her female version of Iron Man, Antonia Stark. Wyrwas says she used simple items to make her costume.
“It was just a shirt that I got as a gift, and then I threw it together with an old dress, my corset and leather jacket. It’s really easy; something that you can do with anything that you own,” said Wyrwas.
When it comes to cosplaying, it’s not just about putting on the costume. You should also try to become the character as well. For Meade, she becomes a whole different person when she dresses up as Regina.
“It’s really hard to explain. Like you get into that mind set. You become the character to a certain extent,” said Meade. “Like you’re still you and you’re still talking to your friends, but when someone comes for a picture, I find I snap in to Regina. When you pose, when you decide to ‘Ok I’m going to pose like this,’ because she has a poster like this.”
Not all nerdy fans are up for wearing costumes though. Christopher Pickard, a gamer, says that even though he understands why people cosplay, he wouldn’t do it himself.
“Mostly just for the fear of being judged I guess. Which is lame because I don’t think you should judge people for doing it if they’re having fun. But I would feel too weird about it personally,” said Pickard.
Cosplaying can have its dark side as well. Not everyone is as accepting of people dressing up in outlandish costumes.
“It’s kind of a shock actually, how people don’t really accept cosplayers in Fredericton,” said Wyrwas. “You get weird looks when you walk down the street. People throw curses at you, people throw insults at you. It’s kind of really disheartening when you’re walking downtown having a fun time and you get called a freak.”
Even though cosplayers have seen their share of bullying, they don’t let it get them down. People like Wyrwas and Meade encourage anyone who is curious about cosplaying to give it a try.
“Cosplay to me means freedom. You can be whatever you want, you can be whoever you want. And you can get together with a group of friends that all have the same feelings for this. You can find people who are cosplaying as the same characters or from the same universe and meet new friends that you never would have met day-to-day,” says Wyrwas.