Stephanie Contemplates Being a Cosplayer on Halloween


How do you reconcile being a cosplayer on Halloween? Do you go all out? Do you use a costume you already made? Do you throw something completely new together? Or do you take the holiday off? This is something I struggle with every year. And I see my fellow cosplayers doing the same.

Usually, once Halloween comes around, I’m so burnt out from summer convention prep that I don’t even want to think about a Halloween costume, even if Halloween is my favorite time of year. I’ll usually opt for something simple that requires little to no effort. My Leslie Knope costume was literally just a “KNOPE 2012” shirt and I curled my hair. Voila!

Leslie is pretty recognizable among non-cosplayers, whereas wearing one of my video game or obscure TV character costumes might not be. If I busted out Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite, very few people would recognize that (but it would be extra cool if someone did, of course). Not that I need recognition from strangers to have fun in a costume, but others’ excitement about your costume always makes it more enjoyable. We’re cosplayers; we all have a little bit of a please-notice-me streak in us. You all know that when someone shouts out your character name on the convention floor, it’s exhilarating. We love that attention.

There’s also the danger of wearing a cosplay you spent ages on for a convention out to Halloween only to get a beer dumped on you in a crowded bar. When you’re short like me and trying to maneuver through a crowd, this is bound to happen. (And has happened. Thankfully, not in costume in my case.) Or when you’re having a bit too much fun, you might leave a crucial piece of your costume behind. Or someone could bump into you and crush your prop. That’s the chance you take.

Additionally, I’ve been seeing some debates on the book of faces about cosplayers entering Halloween costumes at bars and taking it way too seriously. I haven’t seen any of my friends getting offended when someone dressed as something pop culturally relevant wins over an intricate cosplay, but I’m sure there are those out there that would be. Halloween doesn’t solely belong to cosplayers. It belongs to everyone. And I love seeing people who are not in the convention world going all out for a costume. Let them have a win because it’s just once a year for them. For us cosplayers, it’s all the time. If only they knew what they were missing the rest of the year, right?

All in all, if you want to wear a past cosplay, go for it and have fun in your cosplay. Just be wary of the dangers of it getting damaged if you go out to a bar or a crazy house party. If you want to make something new, go for it! And if that something new ends up being worn to a future convention, even better! You’ve saved yourself some prep work.

This year is a little different since I haven’t been at a convention since April (but my monthly cosplay meetups are helping to fill that convention-less void), so I’m super excited to dress up. I opted for throwing something together that could be used for a future cosplay and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

There’s no simple solution for a cosplayer on Halloween except to dress up and have fun in whatever costume that may be. Let’s get spoopy! Happy Halloween!

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  • Reply Tim Fox

    This excellent piece reminds me that it’s important to consider the struggles, small and large, that people who have special interests face that most of the world would never thinks about. Not to be a Donald Downer, but the Chancellor at Wash U got me thinking about this the other day when he was talking about the simple frustrations that students of lesser means encounter when, for example, a group of their dorm-mates want to go out to dinner and they don’t have the cash. Every day is a struggle for someone, whether it’s a cosplayer stuck in the Halloween dilemma or the struggling Pell-grant eligible, first-generation college student. But there’s more to this piece than that. It also points out the difference between people who belong to groups because it is who they are, vs. people who dabble occasionally because it’s fun, or exciting, or part of a holiday. Group membership is an important part of identity; that’s the challenge of the “ally.” An ally can empathize with and support a group, but they can’t be part of the group because he or she hasn’t lived the group’s experience. It’s not who they are at the core–but it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Interesting!

    October 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM
    • Reply Stephanie

      Thanks for your thoughtful insight! Those are great comparisons to draw.

      October 28, 2016 at 11:55 AM

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