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Destiny Mendoza’s Folklórico Sailor Moon Is The Kind Of Cosplay We Deserve Right Now

Cosplay is a versatile and extremely interesting form of fandom in which people dress up as different characters from movies, anime, manga, video games and all different form of pop culture. Cosplayers form communities based on their fandom and get together in conventions such as the extremely popular San Diego Comic-Con International, in which creators, producers, and audiences get together for a few days of extravagance and fun. 

Cosplay is to be taken seriously, however, as it is the way in which some young people (or even not so young) find an outlet to express themselves. They go to great lengths to get the costumes just right, and form networks of help and support that become key for many cosplayers’ social lives. Suena bien, no?

Cosplay is popular all throughout Latin America and within the Latino community in the United States. For cosplayers from a minority background, this fandom practice is key in both forming tighter communities and expanding their circle of friends. 

Cosplay matters because fan cultures are an important element of society.

The Internet and social media allows us to be super active when it comes to sharing what we know and what we love. As – Gwenllian- Jones writes in the essay Phantom menace: Killer fans, consumer activism and digital filmmakers: “Fans combine conspicuous, enthusiastic, consumption of official texts and spin-offs with their own creative and interpretive practices. Fans are viewers who do not merely watch films or television programs but also write fan fiction and cultural criticism, produce fan art, scratch videos, websites and so on, and who seek out other fans with whom to share their enthusiasm. . . .Fans are distanced from ‘ordinary’ consumers because their modes of consumption are considered excessive”. Cosplayers wouldn’t say that their fandom is excessive, though, and they are constantly trying to fight against people who stereotype them as nerds!

But what is cosplay anyway?

Credit: blue_haired_girl_ / Instagram

Costume + play: cosplay. The term generally attributed to the journalist Nobuyuki Takahashi. Cosplay is a big part of otaku culture, which is the consumption of Japanese content in non-Asian countries. Cosplayers are fans who wear detailed makeup and elaborate costumes modeled after their favorite anime, manga, and related video game characters. Cosplay is also based on Kawaii aesthetic, which basically means cuteness! (Pikachu anyone?). Some speculate cosplay was imported into the U.S. by anime and manga fandoms as Japanese popular culture became widespread after the Second World War. 

So where did cosplay originate then?

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Says Winge in his essay Costuming the imagination: Origins of anime and manga cosplay: “One side speculates that cosplay began in North America, during the 1960s, when people dressed as and role-played their favorite science fiction and fantasy characters, such as Spock from Star Trek and Robin from Batman (Bruno 2002a). This type of costumed role-playing (not yet called cosplay) spanned a variety of genres and may have inspired Japanese anime and manga fans to dress as their favorite characters”. Arguably, cosplay started in doujinshi marketplaces where amateur manga and magazines were sold. Cosplay was a promotional/marketing tool for new titles.

Cosplay is sometimes as time-consuming as a full-time job.

Credit: blue_haired_girl_ / Instagram

Cosplayers leave nothing to chance and plan every single detail of their persona! Says Winge: “A cosplayer researches and studies an already existing anime or manga character with a keen eye for detail, in order to create a cosplay character. The interpretation usually takes shape by reading or watching the chosen character within its given medium (i.e., manga, anime, or video game)”

Cosplay is a form of expression, even some call it art. It also gives some plenty of confidence.

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Says this Brazilian cosplayer who prides herself on being Latina and an advocate for girl power: “I cosplay female characters that make me feel powerful and confident. Wonder Woman encompasses everything I believe in, and that’s one of the main reasons I cosplay her so often. Still, there are so many other amazing female characters out there that make me feel powerful and help me inspire girls and women out there to be more and see our infinite potential. Yesterday was one of those days where I needed an extra boost of self-confidence and empowerment, and so, I cosplayed Wonder Woman in the morning and Hawkgirl in the afternoon. .My battery is now recharged. ❤️♀”. 

It gives fans a chance to create a more complete and inclusive version of their favorite superheroes.

Credit: runningamazoncosplay / Instagram

Wonder Woman has been an inspiration for decades. The recent film and its star Gal Gadot have revived the key role that the amazon Diana has in popular imaginations of what it means to be a heroic and self-sufficient lady! Wonder Woman cosplay is a classic that will never get old.

There are some amazing Latina cosplayers! Enter Destiny Mendoza.

Credit: blue_haired_girl_ / Instagram

Look at this amazing Sailor Moon costume! She got it all perfect and also references her Latino roots! Look at that gorgeous skirt and the headpiece that reminds us of religious symbols, la virgencita pues! Destiny was featured in the blog Cosplay in America, which brings together la creme de la creme. She explained the logic behind her costume: “I remember seeing so many people making their own interpretations of all their favorite characters and I was just in awe of all the creativity, it’s amazing! I just decided if everyone can do that, why can’t I make two different things I love, my culture and Sailor Moon, into one? It just felt like the perfect idea, especially in this political climate, to introduce people who are not familiar with Mexican culture to see how beautiful it is” 

Specialist cosplay blogs le echaron flores due to her amazing creativity. Enter the folklorico twist to a Japanese anime classic.

Credit: blue_haired_girl_ / Instagram

Mendoza explains: “I used an old Folklorico dress as a reference and looked up many “how-to” videos but I also researched many dresses from various places in Mexico. I decided to not use as much fabric as a traditional dress even with that decision my skirt used over 12 yards of fabric! The hardest part was figuring out how to implement Usagi’s accessories, like what can stay the same or what needed to be redesigned in Folklorico style. I also had Sailor Moon playing in the background as I was working and I like to think that helped a lot as I worked.” Just wow! We love it! 

Some Latinas use cosplay to send political messages.

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Patriotism? Check. Pose? Check. Latino power? Check. Back in 2020?

And also to celebrate diversity.

Credit: jennocide_cosplay / Instagram

Look at this powerful Peruvian-Canadian, totally slaying the Pocahontas look!

And look at her interpretation of a classic 90s MTV animated character.

Credit: jennocide_cosplay / Instagram

She says on her Insta: “Thrift store Cosplay vs Character ???? Jane Lane ❤️ Daria was one of my favourite tv shows growing up, the humor and social commentary were on point, I like to think I’m a mix of both Daria and Jane—- but Jane is definitely my clothing aesthetic outside of cosplay lol ✌”. 

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