Of all the panels I was able to sit through this year I must say this was the panel I ended NYCC still thinking about. It was short and sweet, and it hit right in the feels. However, all I can think about is designing my cosplay for the next convention I attend. The panel was hosted by the lovely Ivy Doomkitty, and joining her: Robert Franzese, Bernadette Bentley, and David Baxter.
Each panelist started by telling us about their first time cosplaying. Baxter stated he started in the 80's. Bentley said she started 5 years ago, modeling as Xena , the warrior princess. As for Franzese, he started in 2012 at NYCC; and Doomkitty started 4 years at SDCC.
They started by discussing how to get past the trials and negative experiences. Baxter said that he just enjoys making people happy—that bringing a smile to others is what makes it worth it. Bentley then stated she had always struggled with self-image issues, not being the right size or just not being thin enough, but when she dresses up it ceases to matter. She states that getting to be whoever/whatever you want to be just breaks the mold of being a regular human being. Franzese joined in; he said that growing up as an overweight kid made it hard for him, but he added that the key of getting past the bad times is surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and bring up a better version of yourself within you. Though Ivy Doomkitty walked us through her past with a very touching story— she told us about her dealings with low self-esteem and finding herself within the geek community, her realization and mental changes. She stated that cosplay is the reason why she knows what confidence feels like.
The panel felt short. They talked about cosplay being a form of art—breathing life into your favorite characters. Franzese stated cosplaying brings a very peculiar high and added that the world becomes a stage at that moment. They followed up with talks about cosplaying out of your skin color or age, also cosplaying with disabilities. I loved that they kept nudging everyone to try it no matter your concerns, suggesting that when you cosplay the conventions become a family reunion. Franzese mentioned how cosplay is about bringing people together. Doomkitty declared the cons a safe haven where you get to be surrounded by like-minded people. She also dared everyone to cosplay, to feel uncomfortable for a couple of hours because it could lead to something great.
Afterward they took some questions from the crow, discussed standing up for others and for what is right when someone is being bullied. Also the differences between cosplaying and making your costume vs. cosplaying having bought your costume—surprise: there is no difference. Not everyone is gifted the same way or has the time; they suggested collaborating and just going out, dressing up, and having a great time being the character you love.
Ale Bodden is a freelance artist and contributing writer for Bleeding Cool and Old Man Geek. You can find her on Twitter @nerdy_faery and IG @nerdyfaery.