A truly creative individual knows herself well enough to overcome adversity and persevere. After enduring criticism and insults, Latina cosplayer Cassib continues to rock conventions with a positive attitude and the support of her mother. Cassib offers her experiences along with some advice for cosplaying the character you want and creating a more inclusive environment for cosplayers.
Tara M. Clapper: How did you get interested in cosplay and what was your very first cosplay?
Cassib: My freshman year of high school a friend showed me what would become my favorite series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Instantaneously I wanted to cosplay from the series because of how epically awesome the anime was and the character development of the main character totally hit me in the heart!
My group of friends decided to throw together a group cosplay of Gurren Lagann, and in that time I sewed my first cosplay of Simon. We even “learned” a dance and performed a skit at our local convention, Realms Con, and won! That excitement of falling in love with an anime, putting that love into creating, then displaying around my love of the anime hooked me hard and I’ve been cosplaying since!
TMC: What challenges have you encountered as a Latina cosplayer?
C: The biggest challenge I’ve encountered is this idea that you must look like the character you’re cosplaying. It affected me when I was younger, especially when the community I loved was throwing around statements like, “If you’re not the right body type, don’t cosplay that character,” or “That character isn’t black!” It made me nervous to cosplay the characters I really loved in fear of the community disagreeing with my choice to dress up as the “wrong” character. There was even one time where I was cosplaying Princess Daisy (who has appeared “tan” in some of the games) and some guy shouted across the floor “Princess Daisy isn’t brown!” or another time when cosplaying Deadpool a group of boys insisted on telling me “Deadpool isn’t Mexican.”
Luckily these encounters have only made me momentarily grumpy and I’ve grown to be able to look past such opinions and just fully enjoy myself while cosplaying no matter what negative opinions people have.
TMC: Do you feel that the resistance you’ve encountered are reflective of culture in general, or are they a specific problem in the cosplay community? There’s recently been a big push for inclusion in geek media (especially comic books). It seems like publishers are suddenly eager to feature women and people of color. What do you think of the change – and is it a genuine push for inclusion, or are they all about buying power?
C: I would love to believe that it’s a genuine push for inclusion! Even if it is just for buying power, an increase in representation will still have good effects on the community and the geek industry. I know recently DC has agreed that their universe needed more female superheroes, and I’m super excited for them to follow through with that. Just imagine all the young girls in the younger generations that will inspire!!!
TMC: Have any of your friends been discouraged from cosplaying due to judgment from others?
C: Yes, quite a few! It’s really saddening hearing your friend tell you how much they would love to cosplay a certain character and then quickly tell you afterwards they won’t go through with it because of their body or skin color. I had one friend who even tried very hard to find makeup that would fully cover her natural skin color but with no luck. Now when she does cosplay, which is very rarely, it’s an emotional and stressful situation for her as she’s always extremely conscious of how she differs from the character.
She ends up only wearing a costume for an hour or so and then is too overwhelmed to enjoy the event or convention afterwards.
TMC: What would you say to someone who is afraid to cosplay because they look different than the characters they want to cosplay?
C: You are a beautiful nugget of nerd with enough passion and excitement to cosplay a character you love. That alone is what should matter, because I guarantee you, those who give a heck if you look like the character or not really don’t matter. Cosplay is about having fun and doing what YOU love!
TMC: How have you managed to overcome criticism and discrimination?
C: Originally I would get really grumpy about people saying negative things about my cosplay, but I had a personal realization that what I do is for myself, not them. It is their own choice if they want to positively share in the experience with me and if they choose not to, then that’s their own problem and I shouldn’t waste my time, effort, or emotions on those people.
TMC: Who has been the most supportive of you with your cosplay? If other cosplayers are experiencing similar issues, where should they turn to for support?
C: I’ve been hella lucky to have a very supportive mother. She was there helping me figure out patterns when I first started, she’s pulled almost all-nighters with me painting cosplay details, and even listened to me cry and rant about everything convention and cosplay related. Sometimes she even helps me pick out which characters I should cosplay next, even if it’s all over her head. But most of all she’s helped me come to love myself as who I am which, even though cosplay is about being someone different, is important and enhances the enjoyment of the hobby!
If someone is really bothering you please reach out to those who support your hobby such as parents, friends, or even the geek community. They’ll have your back and want you to be happiest! They’ll help you re-realize that cosplaying is for you, not other people! If you’re at a convention and someone is making you very uncomfortable with what they are saying or doing, seek out con staff because they are there to make sure you have a fun and safe experience.
TMC: How can geeks and cosplayers with privilege combat racism and sexism at conventions and in the geek community?
C: First and foremost, don’t perpetuate racism, sexism, or prejudices. Educate yourself on the problem the geek community is facing and realize that there IS a problem. If you come across racism, sexism, or body shaming please stand up for those who are the victims. If someone is being racist, sexist, or prejudiced but is open for discussion, educate them why perpetuating those ill things is wrong and counter-intuitive for the geek community. Lastly just be supportive of all types of cosplayers and members of the geek community.
TMC: You have an infinite budget and as much time as you need – what’s your dream cosplay?
C: Currently the biggest dream cosplay to make is Vash the Stampede. I wouldn’t wear it personally but to be 200% accurate on all of his costume would be the greatest thing ever! One that I would want to wear would be timeskip Nia and her mech from the Nia Gurren Lagann Artbook!
TMC: Anything else you’d like to add:
C: I super appreciate meeting new people who share in my geeky passion! Stop by our Facebook and introduce yourself anytime (:!