Mochihoe (or Mochi) is a cosplayer in Colorado who has been taking huge steps in their cosplay collection and is out there spreading POC cosplay awareness. I am excited to introduce them as they break down their cosplay journey.
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Hello loves, I’m Sadies and I’m a creator of intersectional content for the cosplay community.
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
Cosplay to me means expressing creativity in dressing up as characters you find an interest in and sharing that experience with other people who like to do the same. Cosplay is something you do as a creative outlet for yourself and a way to be more open with your “nerdy side”. My favorite part of cosplaying is going to conventions and meeting other people from the same fandoms as myself. It always feels warm and welcoming to see other people finding joy in the same things I find enjoyable. Especially when a person gets really excited seeing me dressed up as a certain character and comes over to chat and take photos; it always makes my day.
Some important cosplay principles I’ve discovered over these 3 years of cosplaying are to be patient if a cosplay isn’t working out as planned, be open and inclusive to other cosplayers of any kind, and to not be afraid to take leaps you would normally be scared to take. The last one is very important as it has always proven to be worth it for me to take risks when it comes to cosplay, I was terrified to cosplay someone as popular as Catra (from She Ra) and Katara (from Avatar The Last Airbender), but in the end everyone was so loving and nice towards my cosplays of those two.
Have you learned more about yourself since you started cosplaying? If you have, what did you learn?
Through cosplay I’ve learned that I am much braver and much stronger than I thought I was. I have social anxiety so for me I would have never thought I’d be able to go to places with thousands of people, in a costume, and talk to all these people and take photos. But somehow I created safe places for myself within these cosplays and I can do a lot more socializing than I thought I’d ever be able to do. It makes me proud that I can do something I’m passionate about in public and share these experiences online as well, which I thought I’d never be able to do.
Out of the many cosplays that you have done, which one is the most memorable and why?
Out of all of my cosplays I’d have to say my favorites to do are Catra (from She-Ra), Allura (from Voltron), and Stevonnie (from Steven Universe). I took Catra to Denver Comic Con 2019 and it was the first cosplay I had made all from scratch with no pieces bought online. She’s one of my favorite characters and it is also LGBTQ so for me I felt a lot of expression through cosplaying her and so many children were excited to see a Catra walking around con, it straight up melted my heart. Stevonnie was also another I made from scratch as that character is special to me because they identify as non-binary, which is an identity I also hold. When I first saw Stevonnie on TV I knew I had to cosplay them, and I can’t wait to take that cosplay out for the first time at next year’s conventions. Allura was actually the first cosplay I invested a lot of money into. She was my first highly recognized character at conventions which at first freaked me out when people kept stopping me for photos but I actually went to a meetup as her and met a couple people who are now lifelong friends to me. It’s amazing how I would’ve never met these people unless I was cosplaying, and now I can’t imagine life without them.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
As a POC who cosplays, it can be extremely scary to get started even with your first. You see these characters that usually look nothing like yourself and you think, “oh I’m not gonna look good as them”, and “I can’t cosplay that if I don’t look like that character”. These thoughts keep you from feeling confident enough to put on so many costumes, the fear that others look more accurate than you so why try is very intimidating. At the second con I ever went to a group of cosplayers were excluding a group of POC cosplayers from a photoshoot, it made me scared to cosplay from shows that have very little POC representation because I thought nobody would be respectful of me cosplaying a character that appears white. It made me terrified that I wouldn’t be accepted into the cosplay community because of my ethnicity. Though these fears were overwhelming at first, none of these fears should stop someone from cosplaying a character they love.
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
It is all about the expression, only mean people will care about your skin tone in a cosplay, and these mean people should not deter you as they aren’t the bulk of the beautiful people who will encourage you in the cosplay community. I found myself doubtful of how “canon” I am at the beginning of my cosplay journey, but I learned that actually the more passion I put into making a cosplay, the more I could see myself inside the cosplay and enjoying it. I found solace in other people of color who cosplay, seeing them do it made me feel so much confidence that now I can’t stop finding more characters to cosplay. My skin tone is not an obstacle, it’s a part of who I am and I will put who I am into things I’m passionate about such as activism, poetry, and in this case, my costume as well as their portrayals. I recommend that every person of color starting off in cosplay follow other cosplayers of color immediately, as it will motivate you to no bounds and make you feel accepted fully into the nerd community, I promise you’re not an oddity.
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
I hope to see more people of color cosplaying in the future, I’ve seen such an enormous change in the past 3 years so when I see more people of color at conventions I could almost cry, because before there were barely any people of color cosplaying at the conventions I’ve been to and now there’s so many. I never thought we’d get this far and now I’m confident we will continue to make progress. As more cosplayers of color come into the spotlight via social media I see more confidence in POCs as we make a positive change for inclusivity in the cosplay community. I have seen more diversity in cosplay now through people living with disabilities, older people in cosplay, and so many intersectional identities all coming together to cosplay and I’m very lucky to be a part of all that. I hope I inspire people to take a leap and try cosplay as I have been inspired by all the wonderful people who gave me a push to tackle every cosplay I never thought I’d be able to do. I hope people continue to persevere through the fear and someday cosplay will truly feel like it’s for everyone.