Things Nobody Tells You About Being A Cosplayer : A N00b’s Guide to the Cosplay Lifestyle

For us seasoned veterans, some of these things may seem like no brainers, but for those who are new to cosplaying or are strangers to the hobby, some of these things may come as a surprise. Since my family and friends ask me a ton of questions about my hobby, I thought an article of this nature would be helpful to explain certain aspects of cosplay, and that others could share this with others and a ton of people could benefit from it! How many things surprised you, my non-cosplaying friends? How many things on this list have you been asked by “muggles”, my cosplay pals?

Cosplay Can Be Expensive!


Many people unfamilar with cosplay don’t realize how much money goes into these costumes. I know I have to budget in order to be able to afford big projects I am working on. A lot of family or friends outside of the cosplay world who I’ve spoken to about my costumes are frankly shocked that you can’t just buy some things, and you have to make them with expensive supplies.

No, We Cannot/Will Not Make You a Free Costume for Halloween…

While I’m flattered that people think I’m good enough at my costuming that I can pump out creations all the time, that is definitely NOT the case. I don’t even really sew, exceptions being small hand-stitches here and there. As I said in the previous point, so much time and money goes into making these costumes, and taking on commissions for free is just simply not an option. And no, you also cannot borrow any of my cosplays to go get drunk in on Halloween. I am not a costume rental shop!

Cosplaying at Conventions Can Be Physically and Emotionally Draining…

We all love the attention we receive as cosplayers at conventions, and while we love posing for photos and stopping to talk about our costume, sometimes it can be exhausting. Although I’m a social person, I need to step out of cons and take a breather sometimes because it can all get really overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many times I just feel like I’m about to die because my plastic boned corset is attacking my ribcage, but I’m smiling like a champ through photos and conversations. Every cosplayer has had that frustrating moment where they’ve just sat down to eat their first meal of the day, or to rest their blistered feet, and is approached with a sheepish smile and asked for a photo. We feel like assholes saying no, so we’ll stand up and take a photo, but secretly, we want to murder you slowly.

It’s Not Adult Dress-Up or Some Sexy Kink Thing…I Promise.

Photo by Imodelzone Magazine
Photo by Imodelzone Magazine

I don’t know why people think it’s a dirty thing, I literally for the life of me do not understand how I get this question more than every other question. Cosplay is anything but that. I promise you, I’m not a secret porn star. And it’s so much more than just playing dress up. Many cosplayers do charity events in costumes. They  treat it as art, and it’s borderline offensive to refer to it as “goofing around in costume.” Even if we do goof around in costume!

Not Every Cosplayer Enters Competitions…

I’ve never entered a serious competition in my life. For me, it would take some of the joy I find in costuming out of it. I get anxious when I feel like I’m being judged, which you LITERALLY are judged in costume contests. A lot of people who assume every cosplayer competes have become acquainted with the popular SyFy show ‘Heroes of Cosplay’, which has largely brought cosplay to the mainstream world. However, competitive cosplay is just one small faction of the entire community.

Cosplayers Are Everywhere!

Us cosplayers attend conventions all over the place. Some cosplayers can taut themselves as “International Cosplayers” because they’ve been to cons in Canada, Puerto Rico, and even Mexico! There are tons of cons, not just ‘Comic Con’ in San Diego and ‘New York Comic Con’ in Manhattan. Cons come in all shapes and sizes!

Some People Can Even Make a Living By Cosplaying…

From Yaya Han’s Official Facebook Page

Yep, you read that right, newbs. Some people even make money off the hobby. Some talented seamstresses and propmakers run shops where they take commissions from cosplayers from all over the place. Yaya Han, one of the most notable cosplayers, has her own shop where she sells everything from cute wings, to wigs, to costuming materials such as Worbla, a thermoplastic. Other cosplayers get paid to appear at certain booths at conventions, or to speak at different events. Still think it’s adult dress up? Didn’t think so.

Cosplay is For Everyone!


Sadly, this is something that sometimes we need to explain to both cosplayers and non-cosplayers alike. It’s not a hobby purely for “hot models” or “people who fit the characters”. It’s for everyone. Everyone reserves the right to re-imagine characters they love into a form that makes them feel comfortable. Screen accuracy is cool and all, but that’s not the main objective. The most important thing is having fun! And literally anyone at any time could take up the hobby. Your skill grows as you keep doing it. So why not? Come join the dark side!


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