Saturday, February 9, 2013

Too Fat for Fashion, Too Corpulent for Cosplay

I've never been fashion forward. I watch Project Runway for the artistic process but I know nothing of designers or trends. I also don't have a ton of disposable income so shopping at trendy stores is just not something I do. I'm not ashamed to say that Target usually suits my needs just fine. When it comes to clothing, I just know what I like and what looks fun and or comfortable to wear.

Black Milk Clothing
At my heaviest, that included black pants and some sort of geeky fitted T-shirt more days than not. If it was a special occasion or a performance, I had a few go-to staples, almost always black. I went to conventions and watched cute girls wear all manner of awesome things like colorful leg warmers or fitted "Black Milk" dresses and leggings, not to mention the cosplayers who were in magnificent costumes that drew huge crowds of people. I was green with envy, but I just figured that would NEVER be me. "I'm too fat for fashion or for cosplay" was on my lips and in my mind constantly. I spent a lot of time resenting the girls who could pull that stuff off. I didn't think it was fair that geeky dudes complained there were only vapid booth babes at conventions and no REAL geek girls, when we were RIGHT THERE! We were just rendered invisible on their radar because of weight, acne, or general lack of sexiness. I spent WAY too much time thinking about all that and not enough trying to figure out what I could do to feel better about myself. 
Yaya Han

What matters is how you feel about yourself! I was missing out on so many fun aspects of fandom all because I was so caught up in my envy that I didn't stop to think about taking steps to open new doors. My rock bottom came because I got tired of "being excluded" from a culture that I loved. The hardest part was realizing that I wasn't "being excluded" so much as "excluding myself." Fixing the issue wasn't just about dropping the weight. I had to pick up new crafting skills too- sewing, construction, design! There was a lot that I didn't know and I'm still learning, but there are also a lot of ways out there to get yourself on track. I made a plan for my exercise and nutrition after doing research online, finding go-to inspirational blogs, and talking to doctors about the best options for me. I also started watching "how-to"videos on youtube so that I could learn how to make the costumes I so badly wanted to wear. It IS possible to make these changes, but you have to want it badly enough that all the effort seems worth it. There are days when I haven't felt like going to the gym and days when I've ruined aspects of my costumes and had to start over. That stuff happens. You have to want the finished product so bad that you keep going and keep sewing! That's why I set lots of goals to keep me moving in the right direction.

So many people get stuck at that stage. There are just so many excuses that pile up when you aren't happy with yourself. The more you say, "I can't," the easier it becomes to believe it. Honestly, I believe anything is possible with dedication and hard work so it SLAYS me when I hear people tell me they could never do what I've done or that they can't believe what I've done because they can't lose ten pounds and they'd really like to. Sometimes I want to take these people by the shoulders and shake them because I've been there and I know it's just not true. Break the cycle by taking smaller steps along the way and getting on the path to your goals. What CAN you do today to get on track? Can you order a salad instead of a burger? Can you go for a walk? Can you watch a youtube video on how to style wigs or mold worbla into armor patterns? Just because you're not ready to go run a marathon or build a full set of Storm Trooper armor doesn't mean it's not worth making the little changes. If you keep saying you can't, you never will.

I don't think I'll ever be a fashionista, but at this point, I find myself picking out outfits I NEVER would have put on before. I think part of me wore so much black because I just wanted to be invisible. I still love black, but I feel like I'm spicing up my wardrobe with a bit more color as well. My style choices have gotten a little bolder. I'm wearing skirts and leggings or cute fitted hoodies with my T's, and layering colorful long-sleeved shirts underneath my geeky t-shirts to make them wearable during the winter. I'm not saying any of this makes me fashion forward, but I'm changing the way I think about clothing and about shopping. It's an opportunity for me to express myself rather than a chore that has to be completed in order to disguise myself.

I've already started my cosplay journey, but as I lose weight, the way I think about choosing characters has changed. I used to think, "what can I get away with as a fat fat fatty?" My first character was Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender because I figured that surely no one would blame a fat chick for cosplaying as a giant six-legged sky-bison. Also, Appa is awesome. Moving forward, I'm trying to think more about who I want to be in my wildest dreams rather than what I can "pull off" without getting called fat on the internet. I'm still concerned with finding costumes that I think will be flattering- I'm not about to cosplay a midriff bearing character any time soon, but I'm really excited for my Rainbow Dash outfit because that will give me a chance to be something cute and wear something a bit more form fitting and athletic. I've been using that costume as motivation to get myself to the gym so I can look as svelte as possible. The results have been really great so far and I always feel more proactive when I have a goal like that on the horizon. I guess my advice would be to never let yourself rest on your laurels for too long. It's just too easy for me to get comfortable or to get frustrated and give up if I don't have something to look forward to. 

Not only am I leveling up my physical stats, but I've also been leveling my crafting! I've learned how to sew, embroider, and all manner of things just because I decided to lose weight. Next on my list is learning how to work with leather so I can make a Xena costume to wear when I hit my goal weight. I may even get crafty with my regular wardrobe. My Rainbow Dash sneakers turned out so well that I've been thinking of making more versions for different characters from cult TV shows. If that goes well, maybe I'll start an Etsy store so I can make a little money on the side. Firefly shoes, anyone? See, I'm EVEN taking advantage of "game economy" in new ways! Haha, oh life really is more exciting when you see it like an MMO with endless opportunities for adventure. It just goes to show that as you start to making the little changes to yourself,  it bleeds into other areas. The sky is the limit, and even then I'm sure Rainbow Dash negotiates.  


  1. That's awesome! I used to love to sew, bead and craft and really need to make the time to get back into it. I really want to make some kind of kick-butt costumes for Halloween for me and the kids. My youngest would look really cute as a hobbit and I really want to dress my hubby up as a sexy Aragorn!!
    You are going to look great in your Rainbow Dash outfit!

    1. Dude! You should totally do that! I keep trying to get together a Lord of the Rings group, but sadly there just aren't enough female characters to include all my friends who are girls so it doesn't seem to fit for now. One day though! Hobbit kids are the cutest, so if you do that, I totally want to see pictures! I'm sure it will be adorable! Thanks for reading :)

  2. Yeah I will totally buy those Firefly shoes when your Etsy shop opens! Can't wait to see all the pics from the Con soon!

    1. Ha! Well what I can tell you is that the shoes look great... but they didn't hold up very well. I was constantly reglue-ing things at PAX East, so I'll have to rethink my process before commiting to making more, but it's definitely not completely off the table. I just wouldn't feel comfy selling things that fall apart :) We shall see!