Cosplaying is not an easy task. The process of choosing a character, preparing the outfit, do the make-up, find the accessories... it's tiring and sometimes almost impossible! If we put on top of all of that being handicap, as well as being a wheelchair user, things can seem to get even harder.
Should I pick a character who’s also in a wheelchair? Could my body imperfections go unnoticed if I wear the same clothes Scarlett Johansson wears? Would I care enough to make me not do it? Those are just a few questions that crosses the mind of people who want to do cosplays but still don’t feel secure enough to do it; (I was there once too).
I know it is easy to think we live in a judgy world full of people who notices other's faults, but let me tell you some good news today: some people don’t care! When you are cosplaying and having fun at a comic convention, that's all that matters. No one is perfect and everyone tries their best –under their own abilities- to show off their character. At the end, some people make it more accurate than others. Still, under the magic roof of a convention center, we are equal, we are fanatics.
Amanda Knighly, a woman with Charcot-Marie Tooth Muscular Dystrophy, is best known as Misa on Wheels. Misa has become one of the most popular disabled cosplayers and it's often flattered for her many creative costumes she has been doing for over seven years. For her costumes, she puts them together by combining some bought pieces and some home-made accessories. The most important part of the cosplaying art for her is the message she can give to the community of people with disabilities. "While negative thoughts like that may cross your mind, what is important is that you do not let them stay there. Cosplay for anyone and everyone, regardless of your own abilities or disabilities. It may be nerve-wracking at first, but once you are at the event or in the moment, the only thought in your mind will be how much fun you're having." she said. Emphasizing in the fact that the only one who can intimidate you is yourself.
Just like Misa, many other disabled individuals have joined the cosplayer's world. Phillip Paris (SMA), decided he wanted to cosplay when he first attended Megacon in Orlando, Florida. He spent six months looking for a perfect suit to personify his favorite fictional character, the Doctor from Doctor Who famous TV show. He not only bought a suit, he included his wheelchair by customizing it with pvc pipes to make a box like shape and place it on top of his wheelchair to simulate he is inside of the Tardis. (The magical blue box the doctor uses to time through time and planets). In his case, the mindset of taking under consideration the disability was not an option. He knew he could pull it off and above all, have fun.
The whole disability issue, seemed to keep shrinking while I was doing my research for this article. Rose Colon from Florida, a wheelchair user due her SMA diagnosis, commented that she does not think about her disability while picking a character, the only important thing is for her to like the character and to actually find everything she needs to make a good cosplay.
"I always liked dressing up for Halloween and cosplay is like another Halloween for me. It is another opportunity to dress up as the characters I like for fun." Although sometimes it comes handy, as she uses her red powered wheelchair when she is cosplaying the horror movie icon, Billy the Puppet, from Saw movies (who happens to use a red tricycle).
For those who are thinking about cosplay but still struggling about your decision, let me tell you... I did not go into it with the same confidence my friends have. I attended many comic conventions before deciding to do cosplays. What changed? The fact that I understood the only one who was judging the way I look was myself. When you get dressed, you become another person, you become a character and that's how people look at you. They see the amount of time and effort you put in your costume and make up, not where you are sitting or how you move around. I have never cosplayed a character with a disability... although I have always wanted to become Prof X! I can't deny it's a good feeling when people stare at you only because you did a great job with your costume instead of the usual reason of just staring because of your disability.
Take my word on it, if you have ever wanted to do cosplays, don't let your disability stop you. You will see the magic flowing around and any worries will disappear. ANYONE can cosplay. Show me yours!