Channeling Inner Strength: How Cosplayers Tap into Superpowers Through Costumes

“My name is Becki,” says a young woman standing in a convention center that has been transformed into a comic book market. Then she flips her mane of hair that is orange and launches into a Scottish accent. “And this is Merida from Brave..”

Becki Turner, a 28-year-old from Waldorf, Md., is attending AwesomeCon in Washington, D.C., as are thousands of other people in extravagant costumes. If she’s not a fictional Scottish princess from the classic Disney film, Turner says she’s much more introverted. “I’m more confident when I’m dressed in cosplay. I don’t have as much anxiety as when I’m me, [likesome social anxiety.”

She slacks off her dress in green and holds her recurved bow while sporting a smile on her face. Turner says she believes that Merida is a strong female who is fierce and independent. Today, she’s just as strong and self-sufficient.

In the 60s and 70s, science fiction events in the United States allowed people to dress up as science fiction or fantasy characters. The first cosplayers dressed in costumes inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars. The popularity of cosplay has grown. Costumes are typically based on anime, comic books, and video games, as well as movies, and TV shows. Consider characters from even the smallest amount of popular science fiction or fantasy universe, and there’s probably somebody who has dressed up as the persona. There are many subgroups of specialty cosplay, for example, the “bronies” which are men who dress as My Little Pony ponies.

Now cosplayers, a portmanteau of costume role players, regularly pack conventions in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. For geeks, this convention is the chance to nerd out and meet their fantasy and science fiction fellow cosplayers. The cosplayers relish the opportunity to change into a different person or thing.

But for many, it’s not a mere game of dress-up. The costumes they choose bring out something in them that’s not usually visible. Ni’esha Wongus, Glen Burnie, Md. is carrying a 6-foot foam pistol and is wearing an edgy pleather dress. She says, “I am Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2.” “I consider myself an introvert. But when I put all the buckles and straps on put the gun in place, and was in front of the mirror for the first time? It was the first time I fell in love. It has made me feel more powerful and confident.

Leland Coleman, a Nashville, Tenn. resident believes his costume represents an evolution. Captain America was an inspiration to Leland Coleman over the last year as he lost 45 pounds and went off insulin. He developed a Renaissance Marvel Comics version of Captain America. The costume “gave him the strength.” It feels like I have become more comfortable in it and now am.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subdued influence over us. For centuries people have been using clothes to influence, seduce and entertain. People feel and look different when wearing certain clothes. Psychologists are trying to understand what clothes affect our thinking and how much. Adam Galinsky is a psychologist from Columbia Business School who spoke to Hanna Rosin of NPR for the podcast and the show Unvisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he requested participants to wear a white coat. He told some of the participants that they were wearing a painter’s smock and others that they were wearing a doctor’s coat.

Then, he tested their attention and focus. The people who believed that they were wearing the coat of the doctor were more focused and focused than those who were wearing the painter’s smock. The doctor’s coat-wearing patients were 50% more careful during a test that was focused on detail. Galinksy believes that this is because people feel more doctor-like once they don doctor’s coats. “They consider doctors to be extremely careful, meticulous,” Galinksy says. The process is symbolic. The clothes become you when you put on the clothes.

This phenomenon is found in nearly every outfit with a symbolic meaning. In the case of one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely to lie and cheat than people wearing authentic brands, as if fakes offered the wearer an advantage in their cunning. “If the object is imbued with some meaning when we take it home and activate it. We wear it, and then we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist who works at California State University Northridge.

In Rutchick’s research, Rutchick has observed that people wearing more formal clothes like those they’d wear to a job interview thought more abstractly and were more big-picture oriented than people in casual wear. For instance, people in formal clothing would say that locking the door is more like securing a house, a concept that is abstract rather than turning a key, which is a mechanical aspect.

The impact of clothing is probably double-sided, Rutchick says. Rutchick says, “When I dress in the clothes I feel a certain manner.” And, he adds, “I [also] feel what people think of me, and that’s likely to alter how I act and how I think about myself.”

The effect of that feedback is apparent in the cosplay convention atmosphere, where people are quick to praise one another on their costumes and snap pictures.

Riki LeCotey, a well-known cosplayer from Atlanta who goes by the stage name Riddle, says that the power she gets from cosplay is both from the costumes and the reactions of people. “Someone is saying, “You’re the perfect Black Cat” [from SpidermanSpiderman]. You’re thinking, ‘Oh they think I’m sexy. The costume makes me feel extremely sexy. Maybe I am sexy,’ ” she says.

LeCotey stated that emotions can last for a long time after the event. “When you take the costume off, you sort of remember. You may also go through images and feel a sense of remembrance. The memory will stick in your mind if you repeat it over and over. It’s like having a muscle memory of your sexiness. LeCotey has claimed that cosplaying has helped her feel more confident than she did when she was shy and shy 17 years ago.

LeCotey says that cosplay is about embodying the characters you like. LeCotey thinks that picking characters that she feels a connection with is about finding a person with whom she is familiar or who has a common trait. A quarter of the cosplayers agree with her. They choose their characters based on their psychological characteristics or the stories they tell as per a study published in The Journal of Cult Media.

Clothing is a conduit to those traits, but it doesn’t always require a lot. Jennifer Breedon, a Washington, D.C. AwesomeCon attendee says she woke up today and was inspired to dress in Black Widow’s clothing. She’s wearing a leather jacket, combat boots as well as black tights. This is not Natasha Romanova’s leather catsuit and it’s not the S.H.I.E.L.D. patch to identify the Marvel Comics hero. It is effective for Breedon. “And today I’m channeling that character the person, that part of me that feels that feeling of a connection with them.”

She refers to it as a subtler cosplay that focuses on characters who are more casual or casual attires. “Even when it’s not on the radar, it’s not that no one notices. I know what it is,” she says.

It is often difficult to notice the costumes – like Jessica Jones’s gray jeans and hoodie as well as her boots which all belong to Marvel Comics. But Breeden claims that in an incredibly difficult time when she was in a state of isolation and defeat, the clothing helped her gain the courage to keep moving forward.

Breedon 32, Breedon, admitted that she felt like she was a failure decade earlier. Breedon was afflicted with an eating disorder, drug abuse, and even a suicide attempt. And along the way, “I hurt a lot of people.” She states that in the years following her rehab, her life and health were in a state of uncertainty. “Even in the present, I feel a sense of guilt and I must work through it every day.”

She graduated from law school and was able to secure employment. She shared the news with all. Then they canned her a couple of months later, stating that it wasn’t a good match. She began to feel depressed and began to think, “I’ll never feel good enough.”

For three days, Breedon says, she was in her home alone, re-watching Jessica Jones. She made a point of wearing the same clothes as Jessica wearing her grey hoodie. She states, “I had to be Jessica.” “The hoodie was my motivation. Jessica Jones always says, “I do not want to work for your law office, S.H.I.E.L.D., or whatever.’ She had to pursue her interests. It made me wonder if I was meant to be part of the organization. I just felt at peace.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *