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Avis (Dallas, TX)

I could fill a book with all the funny things people do when they come up to Lightning [Final Fantasy XIII]. You would think such a serious character would turn people off, but they just eat it up! I remember one time this girl came up to me and said her friends really wanted a picture but were too afraid to ask. When l turned back to look at them (still all serious and Lightning-y), the whole group of six or seven started giggling like crazy and trying to hide behind each other! It was so hard not to smile or laugh, but they had the greatest time taking pictures and seemed so happy! l’m so grateful to have been a part of it.

I have always been a giant nerd baby much to my parents’ chagrin. For years on Saturday mornings l would wake up and watch Yu-GI-Oh! as quietly as possible before anyone else got up. I got into Pokémon cards at school and Pokémon Yellow was the first video game l actually owned. I put together as many Zoids models as l could get my hands on, and I’ve gone to Renaissance Faires for well over a decade. Movies, games, TV shows; I guess l don’t have that ‘one thing’, l’m just a generally geeky gal.

I had always loved looking at pictures and videos of cosplayers on the Internet, and for so long had wanted to go to this magical thing called a convention. But l didn’t believe l had the skill it took to make a costume, didn’t have any support from friends or family, and just felt very alone. It sounds silly but l think l just woke up one day and said, ‘I’m going to do this for me, because it would make me happy’ (which was very occ). So l did. And l met so many amazing people that felt just as alone, and we helped each other. It was a big part of my growing up.

Being able to wear around. In public. In front of people. A lot of them. Something you’ve made- i.e. labored over, sweat on, possibly (probably) bled on, scrapped, re-sewn, cried over, gotten angry at, almost threw away, made you relapse into your Redbull addiction, etc. Is both horrifying and thrilling. But mostly horrifying.

It’s hard to describe myself without putting a giant asterisk over everything, because who l am now and who l was before l started cosplaying are two entirely different people. Cosplay changed my life and who l am as a person. People talk to me now and just assume l’ve always been this person that enjoys attention and having her picture taken. Are you kidding?! People terrified me! l was always the rejected and ignored strange nerd baby of a child, and that followed me around psychologically for years and years. And l cosplayed for three years before l had an ‘official’ photoshoot, and even that was an accident! But l knew my own weaknesses and forced myself to interact with people and to stand tall and have my picture taken, and each time it got a little easier. I became a confident person because l wanted to be that confident person l always admired. And every single person who has ever come up to me at a convention has been an overwhelming part of that.

– Avis (Dallas, TX)

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