Cosplay and living with disapointment

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Some of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about patience, came from preparing various costumes for Comic Book Conventions.  Cosplayers, by necessity, become masters of mental flexibility and nonattachment.  The costume ideas we visualize inside our minds, seldom match those that are produced.  We come up with the perfect idea for how to make a fully functioning, screen accurate, Iron Man suit, then after spending a thousand dollars, and months of free time, we basically end up with a trash can on our head, that has some bicycle reflectors taped to it.  Your Batman cape ends up looking like it was made out of a Glad trash bag, and it takes an hour to get out of your Stormtrooper costume to pee.

I have a guideline when I’m making a costume for a convention…I try to make costumes that are instantly recognizable, and ones where I will probably be the only person at the convention dressed as that character.  One night I was watching the movie Despicable Me, and when I saw the scene where Gru dons the pink astronaut suit, I knew I had found my next costume.  The pink astronaut suit provided tons of unique challenges, but none were more difficult than the space helmet.

The first helmet literally, almost killed me.  I couldn’t just buy a regular space helmet because they cost more than my car, and don’t really look like the one he wears in the movie.  I just needed a clear bubble type helmet, so what I found was a thick, acrylic, street lamp globe I could modify, and get my head into.  In the movie, his helmet doesn’t have any air holes in it (why would it? It’s a space helmet.), so my helmet wouldn’t have any holes either.  Screen accuracy, right?  My thought was that if I made the neck hole, big enough to get my head through, it would provide enough oxygen to breathe.  This didn’t end up being the case, and the first time I put the helmet on, I almost passed out.

If I was going to survive, I needed to let go on my attachment to being screen accurate, and add some air holes.  The first few times I tried to put air holes into the helmet, I broke the acrylic, and had to start from scratch.  I went through three more globes before getting it right.

I soon let go of my attachment that this was probably going to be easy.

Finally I got a helmet to work, just in time for a convention in Los Angeles.  As my daughter and I are loading up the car for the trip, in a moment of slow motion horror, I drop my helmet, and crack it, quite badly.  I spend the next eleven hours in the car pretending, it’s wasn’t a bad crack, and could possibly be fixed, however, it was bad, and it couldn’t be fixed.   When I tried to put it on for the convention, the crack spread, and I could feel the helmet slowly falling apart.

I thought maybe I could just hold the helmet in my hands, and people would still get the effect, but every time someone wanted a picture, they asked me to put the helmet on.  The broken part of the helmet would cut into my hand whenever I tried to put it on, and soon my hand was dripping blood all over the convention room floor.  My daughter finally convinced me to let the situation go, and I decided to throw the helmet away.  It was too big to fit into the little holes of the convention center garbage cans, so this thing, that I had spent so much time and effort on, that I had literally bled over, and almost suffocated over, was left abandoned on the convention hall floor, and I spend the rest of the convention having people ask me who my costume was supposed to be.

I tried to let go of my attachment to wearing this costume at this time, and just be with the disappointment.

Ask any cosplayer and they will readily tell you that costume malfunctions are just a part of life.  Go to any convention, and you will see at least one person walking around with a broken costume, and a broken heart.  Yet, I promise you, that person will go home, start super-gluing things together, and have half-a-dozen new ideas on how to do it better.

Eventually I got the helmet to work, and now I take it to every convention I go to.  I even entered a costume contest with it, and won first prize in the novice class (see link below.  It’s a long video though, I’m at the 7 minute mark).  My favorite thing is taking a bag of stuffed minions to conventions with me, and giving them to the really tiny children who are brave enough to take a picture with me.

If you have patience, and you can be comfortable with the idea that there may be better ways to do something, other than the way you initially envisioned, and you don’t stop, you will succeed.  Even if it’s at something as silly as making a pink astronaut suit, and shaking your booty on stage while wearing it.


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