Cosplaying is a wonderful pastime. You can be creative and really be whoever you want to be: restrictions such as age, gender, and body type don’t have to exist! That said, there are still the occasional fans that insist people shouldn’t cosplay outside of their “demographic”, that is, dressing as characters of another race, gender, or body type. In my personal experience, this has often come up with race, being Black but cosplaying characters that aren’t. Luckily, Cosplaying While Black is one blog that has set out to showcase Black costumers and to make cosplayers of color feel at home. I’d say it works!
Cosplaying While Black’s main gig is posting pictures that people have submitted of Black cosplayers. However, they also post links to other relevant blogs involving race and/or tips on constructing solid cosplay. The cosplays include a vast array of fandoms from Disney, to Doctor Who, to Dave Chappelle’s version of Prince, and everything in between and beyond. The level of diversity in the costumes is great and there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. With this array of characters, it’s also possible to find something new to become a fan of.
This blog inspires me and its efforts are incredibly significant. By showcasing the range of ages, skill levels, and body types, Cosplaying While Black shows that one underrepresented group is just as normal (or unique) and creative as any other group. I think this is especially important for younger fans who don’t always get to see heroes that look like them, let alone other fans that do. It’s a shame that many fans will grow up thinking that their hobby “isn’t for people like them”. However, with more visibility from blogs like Cosplaying While Black, content producers may begin to see that there is an audience for a diverse group of consumers. This has been proven with female audiences as well; these audiences have always been here, but with more visibility, more content is being made to appeal to wider groups. I’m filled with a very heartwarming feeling seeing a younger child cosplay, especially with their parent(s). This way, they are able to feel comfortable with their hobby, as they should.
Cosplaying While Black occasionally serves the same purpose as any other collection of “alternate character interpretations.” Seeing some of our favorite characters with a skin color swap can be interesting purely from an aesthetic standpoint as well. Since a character is typically only created in a handful of ways, it’s very interesting to see what other ways fans can recreate their favorites. Along with the obvious changing of skin color, the cosplayers sometimes provide other alterations such as steampunk versions, genderswaps, and other varying ideas. All in all, it’s a total package that brings joy to many.
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