Cosplay entertainment in a multi-billion dollar geek industry

I was approached by a friend a while ago who stated with both curiosity and confusion, “I can’t believe you’re 40 years old and you still dress up in costumes”. Most people might have taken offense to that statement thinking she was degrading their lifestyle, but I smiled instead and responded, “Of course! Age doesn’t define who you are. Fantasy and imagination doesn’t stop when you reach high school, nor does it stop when you have kids!” I cosplay with my son and my daughter and we have become closer and more in tune with our creative talents. I knew my friend didn’t understand the idea behind it or that it was actually a multi-billion dollar industry that had flooded the market in the last several years.

Here are a few of our family cosplays for events and conventions.

Cosplaying Zombie Response Team with Chandler Riggs (Carl on The Walking Dead)

Cosplay is more than simply “dressing up”. There is a huge difference between cosplaying and costuming.  As we become more in tune with video games, board games, anime, comics and movie character’s histories and backgrounds, cosplay opens a world of imagination for the young and old. The books we read, the movies we watch, and the games we play all have a background to them for the most part, a history that which answers the “how and why”.

Cosplay allows us to re-enact our favorite characters and escape the norm

Long ago before television, comic books, and video games, our children learned the history of our cultures, religions, traditions, and the like through stories. Stories could be told through books or even live stage re-enactments. This is no different than the cosplay today. Cosplay allows us to re-enact the stories and the personalities of our favorite characters on a more positive and inspiring note. These acts and costumes can bring a smile to a child’s face, a good memory to an older adult, or an inspiration to someone in need.

Arrrrgh! There be pirates strutting around at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Medieval Faire

What’s the difference between cosplaying and costuming?

This has always been a popular question for parents and adults interested in getting themselves or their kids more into character.

Costuming is much like Halloween when we dress up for the sake of celebration and candy. Costuming is usually a cheap rendition of the character or object and not very good quality. Costuming does not portray a character as a “whole”, but rather an image of the character without personality.

Cosplaying is performance art and not for the faint of heart. Cosplaying consists of more expensive (usually thousands of dollars) and realistic visuals and made of very good quality material. These are usually custom made tailored designs by hand, much like that used for movie props and attire. Cosplay also consists of re-enactments of characters and acting the character out by personality. Cosplaying can also be a part of LARP (Live Action Role Playing) organizations and theatrical environments.

Cosplay is what brings life to conventions and sometimes the main reason fans attend events. It is a sense of closeness between fans and cosplayers and allows everyone to experience a fantasy outside the norm.

I’ve heard fans can get too physically aggressive or make sexual advancements at cosplay events.

In past events there have been cases where fans get overly excited when they see their favorite characters. And I’m talking about ADULTS, not just the kids. In fact, some instances have progressed to uninvited physical and oral advancements that were rather inappropriate. The recent conventions and events have now put out strict policies on these actions and they have a ZERO tolerance for such behavior. Security has since been improved and they watch cosplayers carefully.

Harley Quinn Cosplayer

What super heroine do you know who isn’t smart, bad-ass and beautiful?

I have not personally been exposed to this type of behavior, but it has been known to happen. This is especially true for females who are dressed in a rather highly desirable cosplay outfit. Unfortunately, female characters in these stories and comics are always presented in such a way because it was a male dominated industry and it was meant to make the male reader more attracted to her. What super heroine do you know who isn’t smart, bad-ass and beautiful? What female doesn’t want to be? That said, the female cosplay outfits are a little more revealing than we might prefer, but any physical advancements and harassment is NOT tolerated and will be taken seriously by event officials.

Costuming and Cosplay for Kids

To introduce yourself or your children to the world of cosplaying, I would recommend a simple costuming experiment to start. Treat it like it’s Halloween and you’re going to a costume party with friends. Start off on a budget, simple and slow, then you can decide if it’s something you or your kids enjoy and move up to a more expensive and detailed cosplay outfit from there. You do NOT need to drain your wallet on cosplaying. Some of the BEST cosplayers int he community all hand made their own costumes and got creative. Check out for some ideas or search “creating your own cosplay outfit” under Google.


How can I learn more and where can I get involved with cosplay events?

The best place to learn more about cosplaying and getting involved with it, is through your local geek groups or search for one near you on MeetUp. You can also check out some of our cosplay DIY projects here on WeDiscoverGeeks or find more information through the following links:

As a cosplaying mom, I encourage positive and friendly cosplay everywhere! Get your kids involved, get your spouse involved, inspire and encourage the younger generation to believe that there is still a need for fantasy and adventure in our lives. Be a positive role model and pass it on!

I’m also very interested in seeing your costumes and cosplay, feel free to share your creativity!

About Kat Mahoney

My name is Kat. I'm a Digital Educator, Tech Consultant, Author/Blogger, and Community Family Advisor. Most importantly, I'm a proud geekmom to three high schoolers and wife to an amazing retired military soldier. I love technology, video games, board games, Sci-Fi, cosplay, Star Wars, travel, coffee, crafting, and positive thinkers! Physically I'm here, but mentally I'm in a galaxy FAR FAR AWAY!

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