Let’s Cosplay


Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. A bluejay in a subway. A…you get it.

For the longest time I’ve heard the word “cosplay” bantered around in various articles and circles.

I always thought cosplay was the name of a band.

Last night I watched a TV show on the SyFy channel called Cosplay Melee. And I finally realized what it was all about. Dress Up. Tech style.

According to iFanboy (https://goo.gl/fAIbSC), “Cosplay is a shortened form of two words – costume and play. It is the practice of portraying a fictional character – at times completely identifying as that character while in costume (and thus acting as if the individual was that character to add to the authenticity of the experience).”

It seems to me I have been surrounded by cosplayers for like ever and never knew they had a title.

My trips through the years to the Renaissance Faire was full of cosplayers…myself included. Although I didn’t quite lose myself in the lady-in-waiting corset way, I did find myself speaking with a British accent while I dined on turkey legs and watched the joust. I have also lost myself at Halloween now and then, everything from a wicked witch (not to be confused with THE wicked witch), a hooker, and a blueberry. I don’t remember if the acting went to my head — after all, what would a blueberry have to share with the world — but I did go all out on the costumes.

I have been in love with SiFi’s Face Off for years. I love the imagination and the talent of the competitors. It’s fascinating. Cosplay Melee is just about the same thing, except they build extensions of themselves in fantasy mode, where Face Off is somebody else’s face.

My feelings of inadequacy seem to dissipate, though, when I realize — isn’t a writer a cosplayer?

Okay, we don’t design costumes and makeup and physically turn into our favorite creature. But we know them just as intimately. We know how they look, how they smell, how they walk. We know what they think, why they hurt, why they’re insane. We know more about our fictional characters than we know (or more likely will admit) to ourselves. They’re in our head more than on the page, and there’s often no reasoning with them.

That means we make up dialects, languages, and points-of-view. We become them. And if that isn’t cosplay, I don’t know what is.

I suppose it isn’t such a bad thing to dress up and act like your favorite fantasy character. People have been doing that at Comic Con forever. Beam me up Scotty and all that. As long as you know that Neytiri exists only in the movie Avatar and Captain Kirk is only a TV hero, you’re alright. Start thinking you can jump off buildings or fisticuffs with bad guys in the alley late at night, and, well, it doesn’t take much to get back to reality.

Still, I think there’s a little cosplay in all of us. Whether we paint, write, sculpt, make jewelry, or play music. The basics are always there. It’s what we do with them that makes cosplay.

But I still thing there’s a band around with a name like that….

 

 

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Fashion Rule Number Two

CAM01211I didn’t think I’d be adding to my Fashion Advice Blog (my FAB blog…heh…) so soon. After all, I just packed two paper bags to give to Good Will.

But dressing this morning Lesson Two dawned on me:

Don’t let the crabbies dictate your outfit.

Now, being on a different shift than my other half, I’m often looking through my closet in the morning with the flashlight app on my smartphone. Yesterday I woke up crabby, and neglected — no, downright ignored — the outfit I had picked out the night before. I couldn’t fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up. So why should I look fresh to the world?

Because of that frumpy choice I felt off-center all day. Even my bling of a necklace couldn’t push me left or right of the funk. By the end of the day, though, the temperature outside was near 60, the sun danced between the clouds, and I had a great time outside with my grandbaby.

Just think that I could have had that feeling all day long if I’d just dressed in what I had originally chosen.

We’re not big dresser-uppers at work; the younger generation does wear great outfits, but the middlers and post-middlers don’t often follow suit. Well, I want to follow suit. As I said in my earllier blog (Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-ZR), I don’t want to be that monochrome person (paraphrasing, of course…)

This morning I was again crabby. Not the I’ll-knock-your-socks-off-if-you-talk-to-me crabby, just a why-do-I-have-to-do-this-five-days-a-week crabby. The sun was rising over the trees out my back window; the promise of 60 degrees in the air. So I went back and picked out yesterday’s outfit: a blue top and flowered skirt, and a pair of blue sandals.

And I feel young again.

Now, I hear many of you say, “I’m not a skirt/dress person.” During the winter I’m not either. But there’s something in a flowy skirt blowing in the breeze that makes me feel fresh. Different. Lighter. As if my cares have fluttered away. Lightweight pants and flowy tops can do the same. Or colorful scarves.

Kinda like church on Sundays back in the old days.

So that will be Lesson Two. Pick out your outfit the night before (when you still have some fun left in you), and don’t be swayed by the grump you can sometimes be. Lighten Up. Take a Chance. If you can’t do the night-before-thing, take an extra three minutes and do it right in the morning. Don’t go searching with the flashlight app. You may pull out blue bottoms and a different blue top.

Think of the horror of mass boredom you might create.

Old Lady BoHo

I have finally discovered my fashion calling.  It’s called BOHO CHIC.imagesCASW5EHX

Now, I’d never heard of this phrase before. Sitting having coffee with my oh-so-chic bestie, the word came up in conversation. So off to GoogleLand I went.

One site said Boho-Chic is “a style of female fashion drawing on various bohemian and hippie influences, which, at its height in 2004/5, was associated particularly with Sienna Miller and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The twins went off with a ‘homeless look’ (or, as some call it, everything-but- the-kitchen-sink look).”   I must admit I’ve never put Sienna in the Peace/Love/Dove generation, and, seeing as I barely know who the twin kittens are, I didn’t count much on their ideas of fashion. But with all those negative, scrub-woman adjectives, the style seemed perfect for me.

Another site said the Boho style of dress has been described as the “retro-hippie-shabby-chic.” That seems like a lot of hyphens to describe something you wear. And since I’m a little closer to the senior world, retro is relative. A third described this style as “sweet and tough, grunge meets Chanel.” Since I own a bottle of Chanel (it’s 15 years old), I would have no problem spraying some on something grungy. (Although I must admit, “grunge” is not one of my favorite words.) I don’t mind the word “hippie,” since I always wanted to be one of those (I was much too dorky to be one).  Chic has never in my repertoire of words (or thoughts), and I still can identify with shabby.

I have always loved the Bohemian look, although I always thought it was more for young, willowy things.   But I love the idea of looking like I blew in on some oak leaf.  Boho-Chic is wild and flowy and free — something my size, wallet, and creativity can handle.

And  I mean — Fringes! Shawls! Beads!  What perfect timing! I really don’t like any of my clothes; too tight, too conservative. I’m tired of curling and fussing with my hair, and I’m too flighty to have to match shirts and pants all the time. My favorite place to shop is second hand stores. So why can’t I start adding shawls and beading and mish-mash accessories to my every day wardrobe? I love embroidery and vests and skirts, and have been known to sit and sew beadery around necks of tops and loungewear. I love sparkly jewelry, and now that I’m older I don’t have to worry if it goes with the outfit. I have been looking for the day where the blue in my shirt doesn’t have to match the blue in my pants, and the liberating thought of wearing two different patterns — oh my word! Dare I dream?

You have to understand that the first two-thirds of my life were pretty conservative. No…boring. Vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I do so love jewelry and skirts and shawls and sparkles. I just haven’t felt secure about myself to wear those things until right now. I have always been afraid to experiment, to be myself. Now that I’m getting older I really don’t care if I fit in with everyone else. If I don’t slip out of the box now, when will I do it?

But the thing that sealed the deal on my current Boho-Chic thing was watching American Horror Story-Coven the other night. I saw the queen of the gypsies, the gravelly voiced Stevie Nicks sing and swirl around in her beautiful flowered shawl, and I decided — I want to be her. She is 65 and still going strong. Go Your Own Way, as the song goes. Maybe I’m a few pounds heavier, and don’t have the styled hair or the great voice, but I sure can twirl in a shawl.

Let’s get bohoing!

Reminding Myself to be Feminine

It had been a long day — a long couple of days. The dishwasher leaked all over the floor, the dog got into the garbage and threw all the non-edible parts down the hallway, we ran out of shampoo and liquid dish soap at the same time, I was late for work, I did three loads of laundry each of the last two nights, I had broken my favorite glass — yes, a long couple of days. Finally I found time to crash on the sofa and “relax”. I kicked the cat off the pillow, turned on the TV, and, pulling my socks off, observed feet and toenails that looked like they’d been run over by a steel wool pad. It seemed I have to remind myself to be feminine — again.

 You say – wait! You are female! Feminine comes from the word female! Why do you need to remind yourself of what you are?

Well, my friend, ask any woman — sometimes the difference between female and feminine is as far apart as fudge and lemons. Feminine is the girly, sparkly part of womanhood. It’s the stuff that Victorian novels are famous for. It is the pseudo-world of high fashion and graceful movements; it’s swishing one’s hips when walking and never raising your voice and being perfectly groomed at all times and wearing satin and lace on a daily basis. It is being gentle and wise, flushing at the first off-color remark, and waiting for men to do everything from open doors to help you into the car/carriage.

 A female, on the other hand, is an animal that produces gametes (ova), which can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa). It is the reproductive machine of the planet. Being female is also being a cook, floor scrubber, maid, chauffer, dog feeder and babysitter. It is using the washroom with the longest line, buying jeans that fit in the waist but never in the leg, and being left to do the dishes while everyone else retires to the living room.

As the world around us changes, so does our perception of what feminine and female really mean.  No longer content to be docile, frail creatures, women boldly take over responsibilities that were once in the domain of the opposite sex. Driving a forklift, shoveling snow, fixing a leaky pipe — these were things that used to wait until those stronger and more masculine got around to doing them. But somewhere along the line women got tired of waiting and decided to take on the world themselves. After all, waiting for a man to put together a water fountain or carry some boxes upstairs can age you faster than time travel. In the whirlwind of single motherhood and two working parents and family obligations and school activities and domestic responsibilities, the role of the female has taken a new moniker.  Women are able to do things we never thought possible.  We are stockbrokers, accountants, doctors and lawyers; positions that were reserved exclusively for the male genre a hundred years ago. We have started companies, run for political office, and enlisted in the military. We have done things our grandmothers would shiver to think about. We are proud of the strides we have made and the balances we have found.

But does all this female awareness make one feminine?

The definition of feminine has also undergone its own metamorphosis. The very thought of fainting at the sight of blood or blushing at an off-color word is as alien to us as chopsticks. One cannot swoon when their child has stepped on a nail or their friend has passed out from heat exhaustion. Femininity is not defined by the size of your clothes or the money you make. It is a richer, more complex brew than days of old. Being feminine is finding the core that makes us unique and exploring it, pulling out the parts that make us feel good and keeping them in front of us. It is a more expansive way of thinking: being tough without being rough, creative without being flighty, curvy without being lumpy.

Femininity is a state of mind, a state of soul. To want to be feminine is to want to be softer, smarter, more understanding than the rough and tough ways of men folk. And in order to find that feminine state of mind, we have to take care of the package we are stuck with. You don’t need to be built like a model or have a soft, southern drawl in order to be feminine. You don’t have to sway your hips or be a gourmet cook to bring out the lady in you. It is what you do with what you have that separates you from the world of ova. Being feminine is taking care of yourself so that you are strong enough, wise enough, and mellow enough to handle all facets of the female persona. Being intelligent is feminine; so is being scattered. Being innocent is feminine; so is being experienced. You can be feminine at 15 or 50. After all, that adage that age is nothing more than a three-letter word is just as true today as it was years ago. It’s just now we can shout it from the treetops instead of whispering it behind closed doors.

I feel good about feeling girly. I feel good that I cry at the end of movies and at dog food commercials. I still like to play with jewelry and take bubble baths and collect stuffed animals, even if I insist that I’m not a collector. I also like to mow the lawn and shovel snow, and don’t mind trying my hand at fixing things either. Being feminine is the cream atop the already warm, rich coffee of being female.

Now if I could just work on those feet….