Have you ever seen an excited group of people dressed up like comic book characters? Did you ever come across a picture of a person looking like an elf on Instagram? If so, you witnessed examples of a performance art form called “cosplay”. Over the last few decades, cosplay has become a global phenomenon.
Every year, millions of people around the world indulge in this art form to prepare for events like Comic-Con and Halloween. But why is it so famous? In this article we will discuss 5 reasons why cosplay is so popular.

What is cosplay?

Before we delve into the reasons for cosplay’s popularity, let us first briefly discuss what it actually is. For those of you who might not be familiar with this art form, cosplay is basically Halloween costuming on steroids. People go all out to dress up as fictional characters, usually to attend a social gathering where they can flex their costume in front of other cosplayers.
“Cosplay” is a combination of “costume” and “play” so it is a pretty self-explanatory term. It originated in the 80s in Japan, where it gained traction as a result of people dressing up as their favorite Anime/Manga characters.

Reasons for popularity

In the year 2019, more than 650 Comic-Cons were organized throughout the world. While the official figures are unclear, it won’t be wrong to assume that millions of people attended these events. A good proportion of these people engaged in cosplay when attending. You may be wondering why. Without further ado, let’s look at the reasons.

Expression of one’s creativity

Cosplay at its core is a performance art form. It allows the intermingling of different types of arts such as painting, costume design and theatrics. Therefore, it often attracts artistic minds who see it as an opportunity to express their creativity.
People put a lot of thought and effort into designing their costumes. If you are serious about your costume, which enthusiasts usually are, then it often requires exceptional sewing and painting skills. It may even require a little bit of engineering depending on how complex the design is.

creativity

Many cosplay artists say that it feels great to be able to showcase their talent through such a creative channel. Cosplay allows people to combine their love for fantasy with their other talents. For instance, humor is often employed by cosplay artists to give a unique spin to their costume.

Expression

Competitiveness

Each year cosplayers try to outdo each other by coming up with increasingly creative and elaborate costumes. But so much effort is not just for social flexing. Comic book conventions and conferences often hold cosplay competitions which also feature prize money. This brings out the competitive edge in a lot of people.
While it is true many people do cosplay just for fun, some monetary motivation definitely takes the competition to the next level. The competitiveness truly brings out the creativity in the cosplay artists. People combine different comic book characters to achieve unique looks. They can also introduce their own distinct twist on an existing character.

Competitiveness

Artist successfully Cosplaying one of the plastic toy-soldiers from Toy Story (Left). John Snow White: A cross between Disney and Game of Thrones (Right).

Fun activity for couples or a group of friends

Cosplay does not have to be a solo act. In fact, a big way in which cosplay creativity shines through is when people cosplay as a couple or a group. This opens up a lot of possibilities in which people can express their love for comic books and fictional characters. As such, cosplay allows friends to have fun together.

The usual examples of group cosplays include famous duos or groups of superheroes. Superman and Wonder Woman is often a popular choice with couples. Groups such as Justice League and The Avengers are frequently emulated by groups of friends.

group of friends

A group of friends cosplaying as Guardians of the Galaxy (Left). Another group portraying the famous Mortal Kombat

However, you can do more than just dress up as a group of famous superheroes or other type of fictional characters. Here are some creative examples of Cosplays featuring multiple artists.

superheroes

Green Lantern and his ring’s projection (Left). Peter Pan and his shadow (Right).

Sense of community

Along with all the artistic talent, passion for fiction, and competitive drive comes the perk of being involved in a great community. Cosplaying, especially at events like Comicon, allows people to mingle with like-minded individuals and be appreciated by each other. They can bond through their common love for art and fiction.
While society in general mocks the ‘nerd’ culture, at Comicon it is celebrated. Therefore, it is a great way to meet new people, get inspired and maybe make some new friends. Many people claim that as a group, cosplayers tend to be a very welcoming and understanding bunch. Therefore, a lot of people feel great being part of such a community. Indeed, for many introverts, cosplay is a great way to socialize and share their interests with others.

An accepting activity

We discussed in the previous point how cosplayers make such a great community. This is, in part, due to the nature of the activity itself. Cosplay is a phenomenon that transcends factors like culture, national boundaries, race and religion. People from all over the world can engage in this activity regardless of their background or their ‘label’.
Therefore, a lot of people find home in Cosplay activities. People suffering from social anxiety or body image issues find comfort in cosplaying. Many people dealing with social anxiety have expressed how it became easier for them to talk to people. “You can be behind a mask, become ten feet tall or be a cartoon character, and suddenly it becomes easy to interact with people,” said Marlis Taker, a writer and a cosplayer.

After reading all of this, who would not want to be a Cosplayer?