It might be weird that I know the anniversary of my first cosplay, but it's easy to remember... it was at NYCC 2014. Beth told me she was going to NYCC in October and I should go with her, and I thought... yeah, I should! Plus, she was going to make me a costume, so that was cool. That's how, one year ago today, I found myself walking into the Javits Center in NYC and my mind was completely blown. NYCC is HUGE. It takes up a ton of space, there are a ton of people there, and everything is just so... GRAND. So of course I was immediately in love with the entire thing.
Then I started walking around. And I learned that Beth had not been joking when she said that total strangers give you compliments and ask to take photos with you. That really surprised me, even though I had been given fair warning. After one year and six cons, there have to be at least a hundred pictures of me on strangers' phones, cameras, Flickr feeds, Facebook pages, blogs, and what have you (not counting the photos my friends and I have taken... Chris probably has 100+ all on his own). It's weird to think about, but it's also really cool.
NYCC was unbelievable. It was tiring and crazy and I loved it. Then I came home and later that month, we went to Tidewater Comicon and it was even better, because it was at home, and I saw that these people exist in my own city; it's not just a weird New York thing.
This year, we've gone to another Tidewater Comicon, Wizard World Richmond, Awesome Con, and Baltimore Comic-Con, plus I have two more in the next month and a half. Every con is different and fabulous in its own way.
We've entered the Tidewater Comicon cosplay contest each time we've been there, and I love the way they do it. On the exhibit hall floor, you go to the contest table whenever you want, and you get a number, they take a photo, and you talk to the judges about your costume (character, methods, materials, everything). We really appreciate the judges there, because they asked well-informed questions; they clearly know what they're doing.
At Baltimore last month, I did my first stage cosplay contest. It was different and a little terrifying, but I got to talk shop with other cosplayers. We swapped ideas and plans and materials vendors. (The Ring Lord should really give me a commission for that one.) I hadn't really gotten a chance to do that before, so that was really fun, and I hope to see some of those people again at future cons.
And now, I'm in the middle of putting together a costume on my own, which is an entirely different experience from watching Beth swear at a sewing machine and being her cheerleader.
I freely admit that I love the attention I get when I'm cosplaying. Strangers come up to me to compliment me, ask questions about how something was made, take pictures of and with me... it feels amazing, and there's nothing quite like it. Everyone is so unbelievably nice.
I haven't had any bad experiences, like harassment or even mild rudeness. Every con I've been to has really pushed the "cosplay isn't consent" idea and it seems to have sunk in really well. I haven't seen anyone take my photo without my permission, much less touch me. (I had to actually invite people to touch the Iron Man dress at Baltimore because they didn't want to ask, but it just looks so interesting.) This doesn't, by any means, mean that it doesn't happen; I'm just saying that I'm lucky and haven't experienced it myself. And I am confident that if anything does happen, there is a huge community that would protect and support me, because cosplayers are tight like that.
Cosplaying has also taught me a lot of new skills, mostly in the way of crafting. In the past month alone, I've learned about leather crafting, painting, EL wire, and how difficult it is to sew on pleather. For my next few attempts, I'll be learning how to craft with foam, making a mask, and so much more about sewing.
Anyway, all I wanted to say is that it's been an amazing year and the next one will be, too. I have more ideas than I have time/money/energy so it's hard to say what will come next!