On this edition of the Nerdbot Cosplay Spotlight, a cosplayer who not only has been a strong, independent woman, but also a loving mom. May I introduce to you, Hana!
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m Hanako but I go by Hana or Lily (she/her/hers). I’m a bisexual 30 year old mother to an almost one year old (who I absolutely plan on raising as a mini cosplayer) and a bonus mom to a baller teen. Growing up in Japan and Hawai’i, currently I reside in Long Beach and am a library and archives assistant at a university in Southern California. I began cosplaying in 2015, and met my partner through this crazy hobby. I like to cosplay a wide array of different underappreciated characters
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
Cosplay is the art of dressing up as different characters for your own enjoyment. So long as you’re doing so in a respectful manner (no racefacing), then that’s absolutely a cosplay.
I love meeting the creatives of this community. Cosplay has evolved so much since it first began, and even in the short time that it’s hit the mainstream community.
I love watching the influence of technology advancements, and the innovative ways other cosplayers implement in upgrading their cosplays. In addition, I love seeing closet cosplays – it’s so imaginative to see people be able to pick signature items out of their own closet and construct it into a recognizable character.
Are there any myths about the life of cosplayers you would like to clarify right now?
“Cosplayers of colour can’t cosplay white/white passing characters” It is such a shame to see People of Colour negatively targeted globally, but when I see it in a community that was started on bringing people with the same interests together, it’s absolutely infuriating. My brothers and sisters should not be getting the harassment and abuse that they do, especially with all of the hard work that they put into perfecting their artistry. We shouldn’t have to endure the humiliation of being abused so publicly and brutally. It shouldn’t ever be tolerated.
Additionally, not everyone cosplays for fame and glory. A lot of us in the community are doing it for the love of the characters and to hang out with others who share a similar interest. From friends, we all become family, and we continue doing this to be with them and around them. That is really more than enough for us.
Which are your Favourite and Least Favourite cosplays?
I have a love/hate relationship with GOTG Vol 2 Gamora. It was such an uncomfortable cosplay for some reason. While my makeup was wonderful with my attempt at Volume 1 Gamora thanks to my partner, for some bizarre reason after the first attempt, it was just such a challenge to maintain. I love Gamora – she has a special place in my heart, but man, I just couldn’t handle the stress.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
It’s been my own challenge of trying to overcome my own fears of being a target to racist and abusive behaviour from others. Due to my privilege of being a light skinned woman of colour, I don’t get targeted racially as much as my sisters and brothers who showcase different features. However, watching the toll these negative words has on other cosplayers makes me reluctant to cosplay more white characters despite how much I like them. I am slowly starting to expand with influence from other cosplayers of colour who are absolutely unbothered by the negativity because of the encouragement they receive from others who actually matter. My cosplay family are the most supportive people, and it’s thanks to them that I continue to cosplay, but more importantly they give me the courage to be more adventurous.
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
Surround yourself with positivity – cosplay friends and family who have got your back. There are going to be people who will come into your lane just to trigger a response because they feel like they’re entitled to voice their own opinion and have everyone else take it. But you don’t have to. Always stand up for yourself, you are welcome in this space, and are entitled to enjoyment and safety while you cosplay. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than. You’re all magnificent.
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
Where do I start? Less negativity and abuse. We’re all here just trying to enjoy a hobby. There is absolutely no need for animosity, with each other. Any kind of harassment should not be tolerated ever. And people shouldn’t feel the necessity to be silenced after receiving abuse from more well known cosplayers. We should be creating a safe space for people to assist and support those who have been hurt by others in the community.
Less predatory behavior – Thanks to the brave survivors, we’ve had the community rocked with exposure to predators. As mentioned before we should be creating a safe space. We should be fighting to protect those who are more vulnerable and holding assaulters who are being targeted by our community accountable for their actions. These people who commit harm should never feel welcome in this or any space.
Less possessive entitlement. Cosplaying a character doesn’t make those characters yours. There’s no use in keeping your methods secret and being nasty to others who cosplay the same characters as you. This is a collective community, we should be working together to uplift each other and help each other improve. As my partner says, your biggest competition shouldn’t be other cosplayers but yourself.