Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Of Shoes and Ships: Explaining Cosplay to Your Parents

At one point in any cosplayer's life, they have encountered resistance from what seems to be one of the most important people in anyone's life - their parents.

I agree that explaining cosplay to your parents can be pretty much like explaining rocket science. Most of the time, your parents are clueless about this hobby and at the first time they hear it, they'll most probably be against it.
Getting your parents to allow you to cosplay is not an easy task, but it's not impossible. As long as you lay down the facts right and play your cards well, everything will work into your favor. But take note that one little mistake could entail a lot of consequences, so approach the topic with extreme caution.

I'll admit that my parents did not like me cosplaying in the first place. They thought it was an expensive hobby where a lot of horrible things could happen to me, but as the years progressed, they started to see why I love the hobby so much and how healthy it is for me to dress up in crazy outfits from time to time.

Like I said, explaining cosplay to your parents is not easy but not impossible. Here are a few tips of my own, gathered from my own experience, to explain cosplay to your parents in a way that they'll allow you to pursue this hobby.

1. Tell them the truth.

The number one reason why parents don't allow their children to do something is because they know the child is lying about it. It's pretty much like saying that you're going to go to friend's house to get a project done, but in reality you're going to a party. Once you're busted, you'll be punished severely.

The same rule applies to cosplay. Tell them the truth that you want to cosplay, and tell them what cosplay is. Be patient with their questions, because they'll ask a lot of them and be completely honest with your answers. 
"Mom, Dad, I like to put on outfits and wigs to match a fictional character
so I can go to a public event and act like them while having photos taken
with my other friends who do the same thing."
Show them pictures and videos of cosplayers in case they have a hard time visualizing what cosplay is like. It's something like using PowerPoint presentations when you're reporting - you need to show evidence to support your claim, else it won't seem believable at all.

2. Update them on your progress.

Since your parents are new to the idea of cosplay, they'll want to see you in every step of the way so they can guard you better. Tell them where you plan to buy your wig, where the event or shoot will be held, or where you plan to buy your materials. Show them the shops you're transacting with, and friends of yours who cosplay as well. Make sure they understand what you're doing, and don't leave them in the dark because that's when they'll start doubting.

*TIP: Make sure they also know where your money is coming from! If you're using money from your savings, or your Christmas/birthday money, make sure they know. Money is a big thing to parents, and knowing where you get your monetary support will assure them that you're not doing something illegal just to cosplay.

Which leads me to the next step...

3. Make sure that you're using honest means to cosplay.

Stealing and scamming is a big no-no.

Think about this: will parents ever support you if they find out that you're stealing from other people? Of course they won't. The last thing parents want to see is their child getting into trouble, especially with the law. Use your own money or savings, and if you plan on asking them for monetary support, make sure it goes to the right cause. Remember, the key to letting your parents allow you into the hobby is trust - don't break it because it's hard to regain their trust once you've lost it.

4. Don't neglect other areas of your life just for cosplay.

Question: What do all cosplayers have in common?

Answer: They all have a life outside of cosplay.

Cosplay is indeed a fun and stress-relieving hobby, but cosplay isn't your life. It's still just a hobby, not a full-time job. While it may seem to be a full-time job for other cosplayers, it's not.

Let me give you examples. Calssara, a well-known European cosplayer, is a librarian. Yuegene Fay from Thailand works in a travel agency. Reika from Japan had a job in fashion design. (PS: All of these were taken from different sources, some from their own interviews and pages.) If you look up cosplayers from different nations, all of them are either working or studying.

Once you start neglecting your studies or work, or even just plain household chores could mean a red flag for your parents. Once they see that cosplay is distracting you from the real world, they'll start to view cosplay as a toxic hobby. 

I know that studying/working while working on your cosplay is hard, but balance is key to everything. You don't have to go to every single event, and you don't have to complete everything in your cosplay plans. You still need to set your priorities straight and let me tell you, cosplay doesn't always have to be the top of the list.

5. Bring them to your cosplays and show them your world!

This one is completely optional, of course, but it can be pretty helpful. Bring your parents along when you're going to an event or a photoshoot to let them see how fun it is for you. Introduce them to your friends and let them have a feel of what it's like to cosplay.

Sometimes, just explaining it to parents won't be enough. As much as schools encourage field trips to let their students experience the lesson, letting your parents into events or shoots will help them see for themselves how this hobby works. Just make sure that you won't neglect them or leave them alone during the event.

Introducing them to your cosplay friends and buddies is also a big plus. Once they see that you're in the company of good, trustworthy people, they'll be more at ease in letting you cosplay. 

*Fun fact: My dad used to own a hardware store, so he always help me buy construction materials and gives me tips when working with them. My mom is the one who told me that Chizuru Yukimura would suit me, so I picked that character to cosplay. She also taught me how to put in contact lens.

Explaining cosplay to your parents can be a tiring and tedious task, but I assure you that it's all worth it in the end. After all, your parents are very important figures in your life and you'll need their presence and support at any given point. Having them support you in your hobbies will make your life so much easier.

I'm hoping that you find this article helpful in attaining your goals, and I wish you the best of luck in dealing with your parents. All of this might seem hard and time-consuming, but as always, there's always sunshine after the rain. Don't give up on your trials, and you'll get to the end of it sooner than you think. ☆〜(ゝ。∂)

Love, Aki  
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