Life Lessons I Learned from a Cosplayer

Yaya Han's New DC 52 Batgirl (photo from yayahan.com).
A short video popped up on my newsfeed today and I’m glad I decided to watch it. Yaya Han, a professional cosplayer, shares her journey “from amateur to cosplay queen”. As a cosplayer myself, I found Yaya Han’s story inspiring. Here’s a few things I picked up from her video.

1. Be dedicated

It has taken her a very long time and lots of dedication to get where she is now. It did not happen overnight and It means that I can take a breath and go at my own pace. Like any sort of art form, cosplay takes time and practice to get good at and there’s always room for learning and improvement.

Yaya Han’s Pokemon Go Trainer (photo from yayahan.com).

2. Do it because you love it

We are so used to instant gratification that I often find myself getting impatient with my own lack of “cosplay fame.” I can get discouraged when only a few people like or comment on a new photo I post, or when no one asks to take my photo at an event. I compare my creations to the professionals and feel inadequate or that I can never measure up. Yaya’s story reassures me that cosplay is a journey just like anything else worthwhile in life. I don’t have to produce super-intricate folding wings, light-up helmets, or doorway-defying ballgowns in order to be a good cosplayer. I don’t need 5,000 likes and my own YouTube channel. I just need to love what I do and have patience.

3. Find confidence in who you are

I can identify with Yaya’s story of growing up an outcast and finding cosplay as a safe place to express herself and build confidence. Yaya says, “I can dress up as a character that is stronger than me, that is more confident than me, that is more beautiful than I see myself, and, through the act of dressing that way, you gain all of those attributes.” When I put on a costume I feel empowered by the character and through that power I am able to be a truer version of myself. In pretending to be someone else, I find pieces of myself that stay with me long after the costume is put away. I know I am more confident and comfortable with who I am since I began cosplaying.

4. Persevere

I love her attitude and perseverance. I am a white girl born and raised in Canada with white Canadian parents and grandparents. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulties she has faced as an immigrant, as well as a cosplayer in the public eye. She touches on the impossibility of meeting everyone’s standards. If you achieve that “superhuman body type” for your costume, you are criticized. If you fail to live up to your audience’s expectations, you are also criticized. After seventeen years of dealing with this, Yaya is still cosplaying and has an upbeat attitude to go with it.

I melt into a puddle of anxiety when I catch the slightest criticism of my cosplays and have to work very hard not to give it up forever after that happens. Seeing someone else who is still putting herself and her creations out there, despite severe criticism, gives me hope that I’ll get there one day, too.

Yaya Han’s Warring Kingdom’s Katarina – League of Legends (photo from yayahan.com).

5. Accept others with love

Yaya Han’s final words in the video are ones of empowerment and acceptance. The world of cosplay is growing and it’s only going to get bigger. “Eventually all these people kicking and screaming and being upset at me, they will still use my fabrics and my patterns. And I will be happy for them. They get to make a costume using good materials.” Instead of hating the critics, the people telling us to quit and that we’re not good enough, let’s embrace them and show them how wonderful the world of cosplay can be.

Sheela Cox

Sheela Cox

Guest Writer at Area of Effect
Sheela talks to horses, loves to dance, and adores making fancy outfits. She lives with a handsome young man in her cozy home filled with books and the smell of fresh-baked cookies. (Photo by Don Nowicki)
Sheela Cox

Latest posts by Sheela Cox (see all)