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Cosplay proves you’re never too old to play ‘dress up’

Cosplay by definition is “the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime.”

It’s so much more than that though. It’s a living and breathing culture. It’s widespread and can be done by anyone, from toddlers to 90-somethings.

For teenagers, they can bring to life their favorite characters, and sometimes role models, through cosplay.

Kadjia Clark, 19, has been cosplaying for a few years. She is in a cosplay group with Nyree Purdie, 18. Both are from Buffalo.

“I think it’s a fun hobby,” Kadjia said. “I never knew about it a long time ago. I like to dress up as my favorite characters and making costumes.”

Where can you cosplay? Some very brave people are willing to go to random public places in cosplay, but the most common place for it is at conventions.

Conventions are huge meet-up sessions for people who share the same passion for video games, anime and books. Cosplay has become very popular at these types of conventions, where you can buy art, products and make friends.

There is no wrong way when it comes to cosplay. Some people have simple, casual costumes and others have breathtaking, intricate ensembles. Either way, it’s meant to be fun and a way to express yourself through characters you love.

Kadjia said she believes cosplay is a lifestyle and another way for someone to interact with their favorite anime.

Some cosplayers get paid. Yes, you can make money dressing up as fictional characters and bringing them to life. At some conventions, there are cosplay competitions with cash prizes, or you can get commissioned to help others with their cosplay.

For example, a cosplayer may be great at styling wigs, and someone might pay them to style a wig for a certain character.

But some people cosplay just to have fun with their friends and to gain more self-confidence. Fun is all that matters in cosplay.

Don’t worry if people give you strange looks as you head to a convention; it’s only because they don’t understand. Do not take offense if someone begins asking questions. Just smile and answer so they can learn and understand why you decided to cosplay. If they are rude about you cosplaying, then ignore the comments. There is nothing wrong with having harmless fun.

“I think my favorite part of cosplay probably has to be makeup and making the costumes and making the props,” Kadjia said.

If you are considering cosplaying, here are some tips:

1. Start small. If you try to start off with a cosplay costume that has intricate details, you will get stressed. There is nothing wrong with doing something called closet cosplay. This is taking normal clothes that you believe match the character you are going for, then play that character as best you can. If you start out small, you won’t stress yourself out. Once you are feeling more confident, you may want to improve your cosplay. Observe other cosplayers at conventions, get ideas, then be bold.

2. Don’t look at someone else’s cosplay and compare yourself to them. Everyone has a different skill set. You do what you can do with your skills. If you work hard and feel happy with your cosplay, then that’s all that matters. You should never compare yourself to someone else. Everyone is different.

3. Have fun! That’s what cosplay is all about. Talk to people at the conventions, make new friends and take pictures. If anyone asks for pictures, then take them or if you see someone with amazing cosplay, ask for a picture.

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UB Con will be held April 17-19 at the University at Buffalo North Campus in Amherst. Check out www.facebook.com/UBCon.

Ryu-Kon 2015 will be held July 10-12 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. For more information, visit www.ryu-kon.com/.

I highly recommend these conventions.

Tatiyana Parker is a junior at Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School.