This is not O.K.

To the stranger on Instagram who thinks it’s okay to talk to women like they’re a piece of meat: Stop it.

I am in no way asking for your sexual attention. The amount of skin that is showing in this picture? Most of my facial epidermis and a scandalous peep of forearm.

 

InvisibleHug

You see that kid? I’m sharing part of my hobby that makes me the happiest: making children smile.

And you had to get on the internet and ruin an innocent picture with your stupid words.

 

You, sir, are the reason why I learned to slouch so that nobody’s eyes wandered to certain places.

It’s men like you who taught a 13-year-old me that my body is sexually appealing when a middle-aged truck driver honked at my friend and I as we were walking home from school. If I didn’t stop wearing shorts, I would still get those stupid honks.

It’s men like you who ruined my Valentine’s Day date when I traumatically learned that wearing heels and a dress above the knees means you’re available for prostitution proposals. I was 21, on my first date ever, and didn’t know anything about fashion. I never made that mistake again.

 

I am also not your:

Sweetheart, sweetie, dear, baby, or dog (so stop whistling at me like I am one).

 

I didn’t ask for your “compliment”, but I will ask for something from you: STOP. I don’t want your twisted idea of attention.

 

 

Con survival guide: how to battle cosplayer exhaustion

——

Nearly all cosplayers have experienced con exhaustion at one point or another. If you’re always wondering WHY you’re so tired, or WHY you decided to wear that crazy death-trap costume, I have a few tips that will help your experience go a lot smoother.

 

NOTE: a small bag will help you carry stuff. If you can’t carry a bag, tuck some cash somewhere in your costume.

  1. Bring food (preferably protein to help hold you over)
    • Granola bars, nuts, and jerky are very mobile
    • OR bring cash with you and know where the vending machines are if you are crashing hard and need food NOW
  2. Bring a small water bottle
    • Fill it up near fountains
    • Or just hit the water fountains hard and frequently
  3. SIT DOWN whenever you can
    • “OH LOOK! SOME STAIRS! *flop*”
  4. Pack headache/body ache medicine.
    • If you don’t have a bag, buy the single use packets at a local drugstore and tuck it in your costume
  5. Eat breakfast
    • I don’t care how eager you are to head to the con. Start your day off with food in your stomach and drink as much water as you can comfortably tolerate.
  6. Pre-game*
    • Start eating healthy/sleeping 7-8 hrs the week before. You will be able to “go hard” longer.
    • *I realize that many cosplayers are spending the last couple of free nights making costumes. See my guide on: How to make your costumes ON TIME for the con
  7. Bonus: SLEEP!
    • I know it’s unrealistic to ask cosplayers to get a good night’s rest at the con, but you really will enjoy your day time more
    • #SayNoToConZombies

How to make your costume ON TIME for the convention (Part 2 of 2)

This is part two on how you can get your costume done on time for the con. Take a deep breath. This might hurt a little bit (but it’s totally worth it).

  1. Set an absolute deadline at least TWO WEEKS before the date you want to wear your costume. Don’t break this. Ever.
    1. Drop everything you’re doing right now and make a pact with yourself that the 2-week deadline is a sacred step in your cosplay construction that shall never be broken.
    2. Promising yourself is easy, and we break stuff like this all the time. Make incentives for completing on time!
      1. On-time example: If I finish on time, I get to chow down on that ice cream I’ve been eyeballing (#noregrets)
      2. Early finish example: Wow! Finished 1 week early! I’m going to go to that dance club I’ve been interested in but too shy to go to, since I have so much time now. Or learn how to do the waltz so I can look legit in my princess dress (or whatever suits your fancy)
  • Late finish example: Well, it l ooks like I won’t be spending the extra $$ to visit my favorite actor/actress at the con. (Seriously, make this pact violation painful to break)
    1. Late finish discipline could also be doled out on a “every day I’m late” basis. I.E. “Every day I’m late, that’s one less con party I’m going to attend”

How to make your costume ON TIME for the convention (Part 1 of 2)

Let’s face it. Most artistic-type people aren’t usually the most organized… which means there is a lot of room for error; especially when it comes to estimating how long it will take to finish a project. When I made my Princess Bubblegum costume I thought “Oh hey this is easy. I can probably do this on two days.” WRONG! I was so very very wrong!

All around the world cosplayers cry out in frustration, their costumes barely completed in time for the convention. This is a sad reality that you can help to fix! Here’s how:

  1. Make a timeline
    1. What do you want done at different points in your construction? How far along do you want to be after a week of initiating your project? After a month? It’ll only take a few minutes to sit down and write down your plan, but it can save you hours of heartache near the end of your project
  2. Buy extra supplies.
    1. Because running to the store for more fabric or ordering more of your special worbla takes TIME. Your time is precious.

The third tip is quite a doozy, so it gets its own blog post! Look for the second installment later this week. 🙂

 

5 tips for staying warm in costume

Staying warm in a costume is sometimes difficult… especially in colder weather when you’ve got a thin costume or if it reveals a bit more skin than is recommended. When I lived in South Korea, I’d be outdoors at conventions for hours, and it was FREEZING during the winter. So here’s what I recommend if you want your costume experience to be as comfortable as possible!

  1. Heat pads. These are the cosplayer’s magical trick up the sleeve (or dress). There are stick-on heat pads sold at drug stores and online. Buy these. Buy many of these. A lot of packages will warn you NOT to apply it directly to your skin… but my overly sensitive skin has not had a problem with any complication as of yet. These bad boys can be stuck directly under corsets and not create an obvious bulge. The best place to put them? Directly where your kidneys are. Since all your blood filters through your kidneys, if your kidneys are warm the rest of your blood will be as well.
  2. Nude leggings. Or 2. Or 3. If you want your legs to look smooth and perfect, I would recommend these even during the summer! I’m not talking about pantyhose; I’m talking full-coverage ballet-quality nudes to match your skin tone. Try a dancer’s store and pick yourself up a few. Layer them on top of each other during the winter for even more warmth insurance. I once wore 3 pairs and my legs didn’t looked like giant marshmallows. This probably has something to do with the constricting and forming nature of tights. (Gotta love it!)
  3. Thin shirts/tank tops. Every layer counts, so if you can sneak a tank top under your costume, do it! Keep those kidneys warm.
  4. Full-body spandex. Have a character that’s a different color than normal? Don’t paint your skin – especially in the winter season. Just like the nude leggings, wearing a spandex can smooth out your skin… by covering it completely. This is a good time to combine some thin heat pads under your fake skin for bonus warmth coverage. Viola!
  5. The good ‘ol giant coat. If all else fails, bring a coat/cloak with you to keep you warm. Throw it off dramatically* whenever someone wants your photo, and get ready for your much-deserved closeup. *If coat is expensive, don’t throw it on the ground

Photo by pingophoto.com

How to start a local cosplay group

It’s pretty easy to find a group that enjoys sports, cars or the outdoors… but what about the less-popular hobby of cosplay? (this applies to many other hobbies, too)

If you desire something that doesn’t exist yet, the chances are that others feel the same way as you. So start it!

The internet is a beautiful tool for communication and bringing people together. I used meetup.com AND Facebook to make a fun local group. A simple title works best to get the message across, so I used “DC Cosplay Photo Shoots.”

Figure out the “why do we exist” factor and write it down. Make sure it’s somewhere public where the rest of the group can see it. This will be your backbone to support all your future decisions.

 

Have some activities planned out. This doesn’t have to be too complicated. It could be something as simple as a meet & greet or video game night and go from there.

 

  1. Ask people for opinions!
    1. You can’t do everything on your own – nobody can. Your members will come up with stuff you might never have thought of. I have learned SO much about making a group by asking members who are just as interested in making DC Cosplay Photo Shoots grow and improve.
  2. Be patient. They will come.
  3. Once you find a few interested members, urge them to tell their friends. This is how word can spread and your group can grow!

 

Recap:

  • Find out if there’s already a group in the area
  • Make an easy group name & motto
  • Start simple
  • Ask for help

 

Yes, I know that this is a little bit of work. I myself am an ‘artsy’ type that tends to avoid organization and guidelines. But I did it! And so can you! Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help! 🙂

Finding free photographers (4/4) – Meetup.com

Let’s just get this part out of the way: meetup.com is NOT a dating site. It’s a place where people with similar interests can meet up to enjoy these interests together (i.e. sports, wine, underwater basket weaving, etc.).

That’s why it’s oh-so-easy to find a photography group and maybe a good photographer that you want to work with. But it requires work. More work than my other strategy tips for getting a good photographer for free (see previous posts)

Meetup.com doesn’t work the same as a lot of social sites. You can’t just post into a forum and have others actively respond and interact with you. There are ‘Discussion’ forums, but not many people frequent them, and you can’t really put up a billboard saying “HEY SOMEONE COME SHOOT ME IN MY COSTUME FOR FREE.” You will need a bit of finesse to find someone you like, but that work could turn out some really wonderful results.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Find a photography group
  2. Join it
  3. Look through the photos in the group
  4. Contact a photographer who has photos you really enjoy
  5. Magic

Photography finds (magical)

“Yes, I think I’ll join ALL OF THEM”

.
WOW

“Hmm, this ‘Ben’ guy has some cool photos. I shall message him.”

 

Ben

Let the magical journey begin!

 

Problems (dun dun duuuun)

Okay, so many photography groups deal with the nudity realm… which is why your offer of something different might be very appealing. HOWEVER, there are people in the world who will want you to take your clothes off for photos. If you’re not comfortable with their request, move to another photographer. You’re at a disadvantage when you approach a photographer first, because they hold the bartering cards in the deal. Stay strong in your convictions and keep searching for a photographer who is right for you. (Now this is starting to sound like a dating site, lol!)

 

Articles in Finding Photographer series:

The basics

Facebook

Model websites

Finding free photographers (2/4) – Facebook

If you’re as much of a Facebook fanatic as I am, you probably spend a good chunk of your time on the site. Why not use this time to your advantage!

 

  1. When you’re going to a convention and want decent photos of your costume, take a quick selfie/ full-body a few days before. Post these photos on the convention’s Facebook page and ask if any photographers want to do a free photo shoot. Many people will show pictures of the character they are GOING to be, but looking at an animated character doesn’t have the same impact as seeing the real deal. Stand out above the rest!

My first time wearing my entire Snow White before Otakon. It was a test, but I still posted it and got a lot of great responses!

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  1. Join a FB photography group. There are people from ALL ranges of photography skills and they’ll likely be very excited to try shooting a different style of model (that’s you!), even if they don’t know your character. Post a list of costumes you own and see if anyone wants to work with you.
    • Advertise yourself as a FREE model. They might not know what ‘cosplay’ is, but enthusiastic free models aren’t always easy to come by.
    • Choose your photography group carefully. If they focus on nature shots, cars, nudes, etc. they might be less interested in costume photos. (Still might be worth a try)

 

In my next post I’ll go over some tips for advertising on free modeling websites. 🙂

 

Articles in Finding Photographer series:

The basics

Model websites

Meetup.com

Finding free photographers (1/4)

Whether you buy your costume, make it yourself or find something in your closet to throw together… you’re probably going to want a picture of it. And you’re not alone! I myself have spent hours online searching through google to find photos of myself that people snapped at conventions. They’re usually not a very pretty sight.

If you want better quality photos, you usually end up paying through the nose for a ½ hour photo shoot at the con, or spending 5 minutes in a tiny photo booth setup in the corner of the dealer’s room. This is not for me. And if it’s not for you, I have found a solution!

There are plenty of photographers out there who want to shoot you just as much as you want to document your amazing costume. All you have to do is sign up for model websites or group meetups. It is that. Easy. Below are few places I recommend trying out. I will go over some of the benefits and ways to advertise yourself on each site in the next couple of posts.

(Click for direct link)

1. ModelMayhem.com
2. Facebook.com
3. Meetup.com