Cosplay is a fantastical hobby. It allows you to become someone you would otherwise only encounter in your wildest dreams, if only for a day; allows you to imagine yourself taking on the experiences of an entirely different person. Physically, you alter or obscure your own features to look more like someone else. Emotionally, you try to imitate their state of mind, their actions, and their manner of speaking. It’s fun and it’s appealing because it’s different from the mundane workings of everyday life.
Wigs and costumes and makeup help you transform, and when it’s over – when you’re peeling the false eyelashes from your lids and washing the makeup from your face – you can reflect on how much fun you had. And how ultimately, despite that fun, it’s feels a lot more comfortable just being you.
I don’t cosplay simply as a hobby anymore. I used to. In the past I’ve dressed as Sailor Moon; Chii from Chobits; Ramona Flowers and Roxie Richter, both from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Now, I focus my efforts solely on Alice Cullen and the work I do for Twilight events. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, and it takes quite a bit of time and effort. In addition to the weekends I spend in character for these events, I dedicate myself to building a pronounced social presence as Alice year-round. And despite how much I enjoy the immersion of becoming Alice and being able to spend so much time with Twilight fans, there are few things that feel better than taking my wig off at the end of the day and letting my own hair down.
Sorry if that mental image is shattering any worlds right now. Despite popular belief, I typically don’t use my real hair for Alice Cullen, I don’t think I’m Alice Cullen, and I don’t want to be Alice Cullen, despite sharing some personality traits and physical attributes. And that’s because I have a healthy sense of my own personal identity and how to balance that against cosplay.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, my Bella, Christilynn – owner of Inside Bella’s Closet – recently wrote a great think piece called “to the girl who doesn’t look like K-Stew.” It centred on the idea that portraying your favourite character – in this case, Bella Swan – is perfectly attainable even if you don’t look like Kristen Stewart. That you’re beautiful as you are, and your individual love and interpretation of the character is what makes your take on Bella interesting.
The same goes for Alice Cullen. And if you’re an aspiring or even a seasoned Alice Cullen cosplayer and think you need to look like Ashley Greene to be successful, you’re wrong.
I came to this conclusion a long time ago, because before anyone even knew who Ashley Greene was, we all had different visions of what Alice Cullen looked like. When I read Twilight for the first time, I pictured Rachael Leigh Cook in the role. But my close friends would tell you that they pictured me. That’s the beauty of individuality and interpretation. It keeps the world interesting.
So to my fellow Alice Cullen cosplayers – ranging from young girls to women in their 20s and beyond – I ask: why are you so fixated on looking like Ashley Greene when being you is enough? Why is mimicking her poses and agonizing over the way her features don’t match yours so important? Why does it bother you when people tell you that you don’t look like Ashley Greene and treat it as a personal shortcoming? I know why: because inherently, you think your detractors are telling you that you don’t look like Alice Cullen.
Looking like Ashley Greene doesn’t define you or your beauty as an Alice cosplayer. Your own interpretation of Alice Cullen is more than enough. It’s perfect. And anyone who says the words “you don’t look like Alice!” really means “you don’t look like Ashley Greene.” You shouldn’t be offended by those words. You should feel sorry for those people and their limited imaginations.
You are stunning. When you want to be, you are Alice Cullen. But you’re an individual, too – your own person, completely separate from a fictional character. Don’t lose yourself in the race to perfect your cosplay as other people see it. Because there can be hundreds, thousands of Alice Cullens – but only one you.