Linguistics sophomore Ashleigh Burton started cosplaying when she was 14 and credits it with helping her break out of her shell. She said it allows her to be someone else for just a moment.
Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as characters from works of fiction such as comic books, cartoons, video games and television shows.
Burton initially started off cosplaying through dressing up for Halloween, but it soon became a lifestyle of dressing up, she said.
“For the first three weeks of this year, I cosplayed someone new on campus every day,” Burton said. “I feel more confident when I’m in cosplay.”
Cosplay is everywhere, from Twitter to the many conventions hosted every year in the Metroplex, said Kasey Lusk, Esports Club production manager and photography junior.
Lusk has been cosplaying for nine years and served as a judge and coordinator for the Esports cosplay contest at the It Was A Graveyard LAN event on Oct. 18.
In her tweens, Lusk and her best friend cosplayed as original characters Captain Obvious and Sergeant Sarcasm, rocking masks designed with bed sheets and beaded superhero emblems.
Since then, Lusk has won several first-place titles and awards for her cosplaying at conventions across Texas.
Most people assume that cosplayers are just anime and video game nerds, however for undeclared freshman Joseph Gonzalez, it is an outlet for self-empowerment.
Gonzalez said dressing up as other people manifests courage and knowledge within him.
“What are you doing? Why are you wearing costumes out in public?” and “It’s a waste of your time,” are some comments graphic design junior Sameeksha Allampati has heard about the hobby.
Allampati has been cosplaying for three years and frequents cosplay conventions in the Metroplex such as Anime North Texas and Fan Expo.
She said she is amazed by the colors and builds on peoples’ costumes, from characters such as Harry Potter and Sailor Moon to franchises like Star Wars and Marvel movies.
Creating a cosplay costume is a labor of love that takes time and effort, she said.
Cosplayers need to be able to sew, style wigs and create props out of unconventional materials like foams, metals and fabric, Lusk said. In some cases, cosplayers have to be handy with power tools and machines to create armor, or in Lusk’s case, brass-casted tiaras.
“It’s definitely a creative and a performative outlet,” she said.
The makeup and costumes used in cosplay can alter a person’s physical appearance and transform people into a whole different being, Allampati said.
Depending on how long it takes Allampati to get her makeup on, she wakes up at 6 or 7 a.m. the morning of the convention.
Average girl makeup takes her about an hour. If the look is more complex, it can take her up to two or three hours.
Cosplay can be expensive, so Allampati tries to make her costumes as cost-efficient as possible. She usually buys them affordably online or buys raw materials to create them herself.
The maximum that she spends on a cosplay costume is $50, she said.
Whenever she walks into a room full of cosplayers, she said she feels at home. Cosplay for Allampati is a fun, friendly and welcoming community.
“When I put on that costume, when I walk out, I feel like a different me,” she said.