Cosplaying is viewed as an entertaining activity that many fans indulge in. It involves people dressing up as their favorite comic book, film, or anime character. Usually, there is a social element to this as well. People dress up and then meet at thousands of comic cons and anime cons (not to mention Halloween parties) that are held worldwide.

Overall, it seems like a good bit of fun for comic book enthusiasts, or “nerds” as popular culture likes to call them. However, some people might consider this childish or pointless. They might question why so many adults engage in this activity. The answer to their bewilderment lies in the fact that cosplaying is not just about dressing up. It is so much more than that.

The reason why cosplay is so popular is not only that it allows people to live out their favorite fantasy character. That is only a surface-level reason. There are some deeper psychological reasons as well for people gravitating toward this trend.

Both scientific research and artists’ own personal accounts explain how cosplaying can have a positive effect on cognition, emotional health, and physical well-being. Some people even find out traits about themselves that they didn’t think they had until they started cosplaying. Others have been inspired by their superheroes to make a positive impact. It is as if these cosplayers use their costumes to unleash their superpowers.

Help with Anxiety Issues

Many artists have claimed that cosplaying has helped them deal with their anxiety issues. Marlis Tasker, who is a famous cosplayer, wrote on her blog that cosplaying helped her become less of an introvert and more social. She found that it became easier to interact with people when there was a mask on her face or when she was in a costume that made her 10 feet tall. Something about wearing a costume gave her the confidence to talk to people.

Anxiety Issues
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When everyone is dressed as outlandishly and creatively as you are, it is a very interesting topic to bond over. As an introvert myself, I can testify that the biggest hurdle for me in social interactions is finding meaningful topics of conversations. If you have social anxiety on top of that, small talk will not be your strong forte. Therefore, cosplaying provides something interesting for people to connect over.

Boost in Self-Confidence

Putting on your favorite fantasy costumes not only helps remove barriers for people but also augments their self-confidence. Generally, cosplayers are an exciting bunch, who are always willing to welcome new members into their community and praise people for their artistic efforts. At events like comic cons, people are willing to compliment artists and take photos with them. Receiving appreciation for your craft can really boost your self-confidence.

Of course, as Phoenix-based cosplayer Nancy Akram puts it, when you put on a costume, you channel the feel of that character. Say, for instance, you are cosplaying Black Widow. When people come up to you and give compliments like, “Your Black Widow costume is perfect,” it will elevate your self-image. You start to see yourself as beautiful, which induces confidence.

Self-Confidence
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You Are What You Wear

The effect of a costume on one’s mindset and performance is something scientists have studied as well. For instance, researchers did a study at the University of Columbia to find out how one’s dress can change the way they view themselves and, hence, help them perform better at a particular task.

Scientists had two groups of test subjects. Both groups were given white coats to wear. One group was told they had been given a doctor’s coat, and the other group was told they were wearing an artist’s coat. Then, they were asked to do a series of tasks.

The difference in the result was quite amazing. People who had been told that they were wearing a doctor’s coat did better on tasks requiring attention to detail and analytical skills. It is as if imagining themselves in the role of a doctor had helped improve their performance. Similarly, the other group did better at tasks requiring creative thinking. I guess this is why so many people say, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Mindset is key, and your costume can help improve your mindset a lot.

Now, if dressing up like a doctor can help you have a more serious and analytical approach to tasks, imagine what you can accomplish by dressing up as a superhero. You will probably not be shooting lasers out of your eyes or saving entire cities, but you can channel the core beliefs of your favorite superheroes.

While surfing on cosplaying forums online, I found several people who said that cosplaying helped them through difficult phases of their life. The costume doesn’t have to be elaborate either, as one artist explained.

After being fired from a law firm over a difference of opinion, she found herself struggling with her next step. During that period, she spent most of her time in her Jessica Jones outfit: black jacket, grey shirt, and faded blue jeans. She began to channel Jessica’s energy, and she believed that helped her switch to human rights law, something that she found much more fulfilling.

What You Wear
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Making a Statement

All superheroes stand for something. That is what sets them apart from regular human beings. Well, that and the fact that they have superpowers. We already discussed how dressing like a superhero can help you channel that hero’s strength and courage. But it is not just about doing what your favorite superhero would have done. It is also about going above and beyond and making a statement that can have an impact on society.

Making a Statement
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For instance, one of the most popular trends in cosplaying is women dressing up as male superheroes. To a layman, it might seem like a regular costume, but to cosplayers, it is an expression about woman empowerment.

Traditionally, female superheroes in comic books have been characterized by sexual overtones. By rejecting dressing up as such characters and choosing to cosplay as a male superhero, female cosplayers highlight the state of woman representation in fiction.

A Wonderful Community

Often, fiction fans feel that the people around them do not truly appreciate or understand their passion. This is one of the reasons why as a community they tend to be so supportive and welcoming of new members. Cosplaying is indeed a safe haven for people who feel like they are not understood or welcomed by the general society.

We mentioned earlier how people with social anxiety can find comfort in cosplaying. This community consists of people from all backgrounds. There are artists who have claimed to find refuge from racism, sexism, ableism, and body-shaming in this magical world. It is a truly wonderful community that embraces everyone and allows them to be the best version of themselves. When you put on a costume of a superhero, there is every reason to believe that you are one yourself.