Man cosplay is so much more than just playing around to me. Like, it’s a really essential part of how I develop and understand myself. It’s a very strong way to reclaim media. I can’t see myself in mainstream media. I’m not there, I never have been, I don’t really expect to be in the near future. There’s nothing for me there. And honestly, it’s not like anime is a whole lot better but! By cosplaying, I can stake a claim on the slivers of characters that I can relate to. I can grab a character and interpret them in my likeness and wear them around and force people to see that people who resemble me at least in some way do exist in the media. By cosplaying, I can warp media until it is forced to reflect me. Cosplaying turns media representation into something interactive, something that I can affect instead of something where my only choices are to consume or not to consume. By cosplaying, I can create an ongoing collage of characters, who, when looked at just right, are exactly like me. And that is so fucking important.
This is also a big part of the reason it bothers me when people say things like “you’re not the right [weight/gender/race/etc] to cosplay that character”. Like, if none of the characters that you can relate to on an emotional level are people that look like you, then the media has failed you! The media has betrayed you and you have every right to stake a claim on the characters who you relate to and cosplay them and show the world that people who have that kind of personality and that kind of experiences can look like you.