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Vaultfox (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cosplay is not only my creative outlet, it’s sort of morphed into my own personal therapy over the years. I started cosplaying back in 2016 when I bought a few thrifted pieces for a Piper Wright cosplay from Fallout 4. I went to PAX EAST that same year and cosplayed with my husband and some friends when we were told about a “Fallout Cosplay Gathering” and we decided to head up. It was then that my whole outlook on the hobby changed! There was a community? Of people? And they all shared a common interest of this video game they loved so much they wanted to become those characters??? Sign me up!!!

Later that year, I fell in love with Jyn Erso from Rogue One and decided I had to have every costume she wore in my life. While researching, I found a Facebook group called “Stardust Sisters” whose main goal was to help everyone in the group make their own Jyn costume. I was particularly drawn to her Imperial disguise and decided I wanted to work on making that costume to the best of my abilities. In the midst of searching out references and furiously teaching myself how to sew a flat-felled seam, I started to feel a bit … off.

Photo : @deltastic

I finished her costume in early April but soon after I was experiencing debilitating migraines, extreme joint and neck pain, as well as the worst fatigue I’d ever ever felt in my life. I could barely stay awake for the eight hours of work I did each day and soon had to start working from home and napping when I could just to get through the day. I saw several doctors who ran lots of tests until it was finally determined I had Lyme Disease, but a case where I’d had it untreated for over two years or so. No one could tell me for sure, but we think all of my symptoms were triggered by stress.

I had to take months of cosplay work while I went through courses of antibiotics (and believe me I didn’t really think much about it, I was too tired) and at the same time, my father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was an incredibly stressful time and I missed having my creative outlet to cope.

In October of that same year, Felicity Jones was going to NYCC for signings and photo-ops and I just knew no matter how sick I was, I had to get out there to meet her and tell her how much her character meant to me. In early October I boarded a bus to New York and slept the entire eight hours until I was finally at a fellow cosplayers apartment for the weekend ahead.

Meeting her was a dream, I wrote her a note that I passed onto her at her signing and when I met her at the photo op she told me she had actually read it??? And that she was thinking of my father too. It was just … I don’t cry, but I’m my photo with her I was on the verge of tears. It’s an incredible memory.

I let her know just how important Jyn’s character was to me in that note, and it’s for two reasons: 1) how she handles her father’s death, and 2) her absolute resolve and dedication, choosing to “make things right” after all she had been through, and that they are just regular people, no “force” or special powers involved.

She told me she hopes things get better, and just … hearing that from her, I don’t know why it gave me the emotions it did, but it meant so much to me. I’m forever thankful I got the chance to come meet her and tell her how much her performance and Jyn mean to me.

It was worth it, even if so many people hate Jyn, think she’s boring or a bitch or unnecessary. She’s none of those things to me, she has helped me through so much and I’m proud to cosplay Jyn, it was worth all the headaches and lines and logistics to get here.

Three weeks after NYCC, my dad passed away. He never really “got” the cosplay thing but was always supportive and loved seeing me express my creativity. I was lost and while I was finally feeling better from Lyme, I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to do anything at all … and one day I woke up to a package from several of my Stardust Sisters chock full of Rogue One merch, snacks and even some treats (named portions) for my dog, Ares.

I’ve never experienced such generosity and at that time, I couldn’t believe that people who I’d only just met that year because we had a common goal of wanting to make costumes, could end up being such treasured and amazing friends. And it all happened because I wanted to make a costume.

Jyn Erso from Rogue One : vaultfox // photo : @deltastic

Originally posted on Cosplay in America Nov. 25, 2020

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