Why is cosplay popular?
If you’re new to the Cosplay Community, you might have seen cosplay just about everywhere. You see cosplay conventions pop up in your area all the time. You see your favorite video game companies promote cosplayers during their events. Heck, you probably see cosplayers at a movie premiere!
You may be wondering, “When the heck did cosplay become so popular?” And why is it so mainstream these days? Well today, I am here to answer those questions for you! As a cosplayer that’s been doing this for a long time AND being a cosplay event organizer myself, I have a lot of experience in this hobby. I will give you my perspective of why cosplay is the real deal.
But first, let’s answer this question…
Why is cosplay popular?
Contrary to popular belief, cosplay used to be very niche and less-known up to 15 years ago, before the 2010s. But with shows such as “Heroes of Cosplay” and several Anime and comic conventions taking place every year, cosplay has become popular for well over a decade now. There are many reasons why cosplay is popular. From the inclusive and diverse Cosplay Community, to the ability of creative and artistic expression, cosplay is a medium that many people enjoy. Because cosplay is a lot of fun for those who take part, this hobby will stay popular for years to come.
In this article, I’ll give you 10 reasons to why is cosplay popular? These are my observations and experiences being a cosplayer and cosplay event organizer. After reading this post, you’ll more than likely want to take part in cosplay yourself!
Without further ado, let’s get started.
1. A place for geek culture
Of all the reasons why cosplay is popular, I wanted to put this one first and foremost. From when I remember, geek culture was a taboo. Back then, you were made fun of and even bullied if a lot of people considered you as a geek. It wasn’t “cool” to be into video game, comics or Anime. And cosplay was no exception. Even today, a lot of old-school folk would find cosplay weird.
But today, the world has changed so much (well at least in the Western world). Not only has geek culture been accepted into mainstream culture, geek culture has been happily embraced as well. With that acceptance, the cosplay hobby has benefitted as well. Cosplay isn’t such a niche or “weird” hobby anymore; people consider it awesome today! Because cosplay is full of geeky people, it’s only natural for the subculture to be a place where geeky people congregate and meet each other.
Which leads me to my next point…
Because cosplaying is so big now, it’s only natural for cosplay events and conventions to be a breeding ground for networking opportunities. Cosplay is one subculture, but there are many other intersecting subcultures that associate themselves with cosplaying. Some include Lolita, Steampunk, video gaming, Kawaii culture, wrestling, etc.
If you are someone looking to meet new people, cosplaying is a wonderful opportunity to do so. I can say myself that I’ve met some really awesome people through cosplaying. A few of them have become my closest friends. Who doesn’t love a hobby where you get to meet great people?! It would make sense why cosplay is so popular.
3. The Cosplay Community
The good old Cosplay Community! Although if you did a search on Google with the term “cosplay community,” you’d probably get more negative stuff showing up such as toxicity or drama. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, there may be some bad people in the community, but that is true for any subculture. There’s no need to discuss that.
I do want to point the positives of the Cosplay Community. As mentioned previously, you can meet some really awesome people through cosplaying. But on a bigger level, the Cosplay Community is well-known for its diversity and inclusivity. Intolerance or any form of bigotry is generally not allowed. Generally speaking, if you come from a place where you’ve been hurt or discriminated, the Cosplay Community is a place where they welcome you with open arms. A lot of people in the community have been through similar issues, which is why they are so welcoming. It’s truly one of the nicest things about being part of the Cosplay Community; people can be really nice and chill!
As a cosplay event organizer myself, I’ve gotten to see many people come and go in the Cosplay Community. However, most people do stay as cosplayers permanently because the positives far outweigh the negatives. This hobby is too popular to give up!
Escapism is a huge reason why cosplay is popular. Although to be fair, this isn’t always a good thing. Escapism is okay but only in the short-term. If you always need to escape, then it can be a bad thing. But anyways, cosplaying at its essence is roleplaying in costume. That is the true definition of cosplay. By dressing up in costume and having fun (especially at conventions), you can just forget about your problems momentarily and enjoy yourself.
The reasons why we love Anime conventions so much is that we get to let loose and have fun for an entire weekend. And we get all depressed once the convention is over! You aren’t the only one who wants to have fun at conventions; tons of other people do. We spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to attend the big cosplay conventions every year. That’s how much we want to escape and have fun!
5. Love for our fandoms
Speaking of cosplaying, did you know there are many reasons why we want cosplay? One of them is because we love our characters so much, that we want to do them justice and dress up as them! For example, if Sailor Moon resonated with you back then, of course you’ll want to dress up as one of the Sailor Scouts.
I remember my first cosplay experience like yesterday. I cosplayed as Sora from Kingdom Hearts and I can tell you it was a magical moment! Even though my cosplay was terrible (everyone’s first cosplay is usually bad, by the way), I still had a lot of fun dressing up as one of my favorite RPG characters. Not only that, the people around me appreciated my Sora cosplay and I got to interact with so many cool people.
When it comes to cosplaying, there is a lot to love about dressing up for your first time and dressing up as someone you love. Cosplay is truly a showcase of love for your favorite characters and series. That’s why cosplay is so popular. Because there are so many fandoms out there, you can literally cosplay almost anyone you want!
6. A hobby to show off your beauty
Let’s face it; cosplaying is all about looking good on camera. If you have an interest in looking as beautiful as possible, then you’ll definitely enjoy the cosplay hobby!
When people outside of the cosplay world see beautiful cosplayers dressed up as their favorite characters, it only makes them as interested to get them in the hobby as well. There is something about seeing yourself looking so amazing in a costume, that it becomes addictive and you want to keep doing it over and over.
Which brings me to my next point…
7. Confidence booster
While it’s true that seeing beautiful people in cosplay can make you feel inferior and like a mountain to climb (more on this in the next point), I’ve also seen the opposite effect. Cosplay can be a huge confidence booster for many. Putting yourself out there in cosplay takes a lot of courage, especially if you’re doing cosplays that are a little more revealing. I personally know cosplayers that have become a lot more outgoing and confident by taking part in this hobby. The Cosplay Community can be very helpful and encouraging, which in turn helps to grow your confidence.
Perhaps for those on the outside looking in, they see these once-shy cosplayers turn into a stronger person through cosplay…they feel like they want to do the same. So make no mistake about it; cosplay can give you a LOT of confidence by simply taking part in the hobby!
8. The learning experiences and challenges
Believe it or not, one reason why people enjoy cosplaying is because of the challenges involved! Do you know how hard it is to make your costume? This is because knowing how to sew and craft takes a very long time to get good at. It’s not an easy thing to learn but cosplayers enjoy the challenge of making something magnificent like their own costume.
When you spend hours upon hours making a cosplay by yourself, there’s no better feeling than being able to wear at a convention. And when you have people at conventions complementing you and asking to take a photo of your cosplay, that experience can be so amazing and addictive!
There are many other aspects you can learn from cosplaying. A biggie is through cosplay photography. Whether you’re the person taking the photos, or the model trying to pose, you learn so much through photoshoots. And of course I haven’t even talked about cosplay makeup; that itself is an art as well (click here to get started on cosplay makeup).
I can tell you that I’ve learned so many things by being part of cosplaying for a long time. I don’t even know where to start! All I will say is; you’ll probably become a smarter and more skilled person by being part of cosplay.
9. Artistic expression
As mentioned previously, there are many subcultures tied to cosplay. A lot of them are in the artistic field and that’s what draws a lot of artistic people to cosplay. After all, cosplay itself is VERY artistic and open to your own creativity and imagination! Not only can you put your own spin on a character with cosplay, you can also do Original Cosplays (OC for short) as well. If you want to learn more about Original Cosplays, click here.
There are a lot of ways you can be artistic with cosplays. Some examples I’ve seen:
- Dancing and idol groups such as Love Live! (click here on how to start your own cosplay group)
- Putting your own twist on existing cosplays (e.g. Armored/Worbla versions of Pokémon Eeveelutions)
- Cosplaying memes or viral trends (e.g. Virgin Killer, Bowsette)
10. It’s damn fun!
This is probably the easiest and simplest reason why cosplay is popular and mainstream these days. It’s just so damn fun to cosplay. It’s an awesome experience to dress up as your favorite characters, create the costume (or buy it), wear it to a convention, have others appreciate your cosplay. On top of that, you get to see other people dress up in cosplay as well and you get to experience all the wonderful cosplays on display.
All in all, cosplay is a damn fun experience!
To summarize, here are the 10 reasons why cosplay is so popular these days:
- A place for geek culture
- The Cosplay Community
- Love for our fandoms
- A hobby to show off your beauty
- Confidence booster
- The learning experiences and challenges
- Artistic expression
- It’s damn fun!
And there you have it; 10 reasons why cosplay is so dang popular and mainstream! I hope that answers your questions about this hobby.
To me, cosplaying is such a wonderful hobby. It makes complete sense why it has gone from a niche hobby to the mainstream juggernaut it is today. And I can only see cosplaying continue to grow in popularity in the future.
What do you think about cosplaying? Do you think it deserves the popularity? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what your thoughts. 🙂
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!
One thing that I’ll always find ironic is how back in high school (2010-14) I was the guy that liked making costumes for class plays, yet had an apathy for anime in general (thanks to this weird girl who was a bit eccentric about it). Funny how now I’m the one who goes in cosplay AND attends anime conventions as the highlight of the summer 🤣
Haha how times have changed! People change when they grow up, so it makes sense why you’re the Weeb now. 😉