While I want to support being healthy, I also support the concept of body positivity. I think that taking your health seriously is a personal journey and it's about learning how to embrace who you are at every step along the way, not just the finish line. I don't think being thin makes you who you are. I think taking action to improve your life will show you who you are and that sometimes that can result in becoming a more fit person.
One of the things that helped me embrace myself and see myself for all the things I could potentially be (rather than all the things I'd never live up to) was cosplay. Becoming Appa made me believe I was confident enough to show off a costume I'd made without feeling like I wasn't able to embody the character. Training to become Rainbow Dash for PAX East taught me that I loved running. Creating my Dragon Age costume has been a celebration of getting my body to a place where I am believable as one of my favorite characters who I find incredibly empowering and badass. Each costume has helped me become more of who I am through taking on elements of other characters that I'm not sure I can live up to!
When I first started cosplaying, I was terrified because of the prevalence of this kind of behavior:
This week, I saw an article about a girl who posted a picture of herself portraying Lara Croft from Tomb Raider on Halloween. It was a character she loved and she went out with her friends on Halloween and took pictures like we all do. She posted the picture to facebook and as the internet is known to do, it got hold of the photo and it went viral with the caption "Fridge Raider." On the surface, even she found it funny, but what the internet did to the image ultimately went from trolls having their fun to viscous bullying and body shaming. People wrote responses telling her to kill herself. They weren't just having a casual giggle. They tore her APART.
It makes me want to cry because this girl is braver than I will EVER be. She was self assured and she wanted to be Lara Croft. She didn't care that she didn't have "the right" body type (something I still agonize about before each and every costume I make). She went out there and she enjoyed herself. Her reward? Ridicule from a pack of anonymous "dickwolves" who vilified her for having the audacity to go out with her friends and dress up for a night of fun on Halloween.
Cosplay should be fun for everyone. It's about using your crafting hobbies to express how much you love something. It's not about how hot you are or how many interviews you get (though that stuff certainly has it's place in the "pro-cosplay" world). For most people, cosplay is about being a part of something and finding other people who love that same thing.
That being said, that article made me want to point you guys in the direction of some ladies who are taking the world of cosplay by storm while rocking their curves and their craftsmanship. I want to celebrate them both for having the confidence I didn't have when I started this journey and for standing out from the crowd with their excellent designs and craft skills. Without further ado, here are my top 5 curvy cosplayers! Hopefully they will inspire you to get your feet wet no matter what size you are!
She has a bunch of pictures on tumblr of her work, but I came across her "Marian Hawke" cosplay when I was looking for some empowering photos of Dragon Age cosplay to help me get inspired to work on Tallis. She looks like she's having a blast in every photo and what's more, you can see she has an eye for detail. Check out her guantlet and all the leatherwork. With an attitude like that, I just have to believe she must have chosen every snarky remark for her playthrough of DA II.
2. Ivy Doomkitty
As an L.A. based cosplayer, Ivy rocks her curves in every costume from Star Trek to Elektra. I love her redesign of Dr. Doom. She's rocking the corset to create an amazing silhouette and it's a really creative repurposing of a male character for the female form. She rocks the sexy all the time and is probably more confident in her body than I will ever be! You can like her on Facebook to see more of her work.
3. Lady Annika "Magneto" Cosplay
What I like about Lady Annika is that she's short and she doesn't necessarily have the hourglass form that some of these other ladies have. Yet, there's something amazing about the creative way she redesigns male costumes for her body. My favorites are her Nightwing and her very recent Walking Deadpool. She makes really awesome armor and the SFX make-up on her Deadpool is great. Go like her on Facebook to check out more of her work.
4. Becky Young
Becky was on Heroes of Cosplay and while she's not as obviously curvy as some of the other ladies on this list, she admitted to struggling with her weight and being self conscious about looking good in her costumes while on the show. Watching her get cinched into her Merida costume and seeing her tough it out on the treadmill reminded me of all the other struggles that go on in the cosplay world OUTSIDE of simply making the costume. Her Pinkie Pie costume stood out to me long ago, even though I didn't know who she was at the time. She was just so bubbly and fun looking! If anypony is going to have a little meat on them, it would be the one who lives above the cake shop and loves to party! She embodied the character perfectly in every image I've seen. I also love that she is constantly working to improve her craftsmanship and I admire her the most out of all the ladies on that show. She was just the most "real" to me. I hope you'll check out her work on Facebook and give her some support, whether you were a fan of the show or not.
The QUEEN of CURVES is Bellechere. My. God. If you are not following her work on Facebook, then you should be! I would venture to say she's probably the most successful curvaceous cosplayer out there. She is a confident sexy craftswoman who loves taking on superheroes. Her Captain Marvel is epic. Her Power Girl is epic. Everything is flawless and just because she's curvy doesn't mean she's afraid to show her fair share of skin. Check out her Goblin Queen costume if you're wondering what I'm talking about. I adore her. I'm always excited to see what she's going to do next.
Those are my top five. There are probably more out there that I'm missing and I'd love to hear about them. If you know someone I missed, please feel free to add links to your favorites in the comments!