Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Halloween Let Down

As a kid, I always wanted to cosplay my favorite characters at Halloween. When we'd go to look at costumes, I'd always be horribly disappointed, searching for the costume my favorite characters would have worn. For some reason, marketing gurus thought that costumes should have a picture of the character or the name of the show they were from printed prominently on the costume. I'd feel heartbroken. No self respecting cartoon heroine was going to walk around with her own face plastered on her dress. It was disheartening. I didn't want to dress up as a nod to my favorite character, I wanted to step into their role for a moment. I wanted to look in a mirror and for just a moment, completely embody them.

My mom was always frustrated. "What do you mean you don't like any of the costumes? I thought you said you wanted to be Rainbow Brite? This is a Rainbow Brite costume, what's wrong with it?"

Seriously, when did Rainbow ever have her name plastered on her skirt? Do you remember it? Neither do I. Same thing goes for She-Ra and Strawberry Shortcake. They were not the ultra-vain name brandishing types. Lady Lovely Locks was all about the hair, not about the picture of her hair on the front of her dress (but let's be honest, I'm a brunette, I wanted to be Maiden Fair Hair. That costume wasn't even available for purchase. Don't even get me started on the pitiful Cleopatra costumes out there.

Ultimately this led to a lot of homemade costumes that couldn't be bought, but they weren't the characters I loved either. They were always something that couldn't be bought, because "if you're going to be something I can buy in the store, why don't we buy it in the store?" And as a grown up sewing maven, I get it. The amount of time I pour into every costume for my kids, I get it. Every year we make my daughter's costume and buy one for my son. Why? Because cosplaying Darth Vader is easy for a preschooler, right off the rack. Cosplaying Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night as a teenage girl? Not so much.

So, this year as I work on my zaftig Mina Harper cosplay and my daughter's Starry Night, I smile and remember the day I realized while holding a cheap polyester Rainbow Brite costume that was just wrong, that dressing up can be more than that: deserves to be more than that.

Cosplay over costumes any day.


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