First name and last initial: Libby B.
Where are you from originally or reside currently? Originally from Palo Alto, CA. Currently residing in Durham, NC.
How long you have been cosplaying? About a year and a half
Other Characters cosplayed: Asami Sato (Legend of Korra), Poison Ivy (Batman), Jubilee (X-men), Sif (Thor / Agents of SHIELD), Formalwear Pokemon Gijinka Moltres, Sheik (Legend of Zelda / Super Smash Bros), Cinder Fall (RWBY), Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
1. Who or what inspired you to cosplay?
I think, in a way, I was always meant to cosplay. When I was little, Halloween was (and still is, honestly) my favorite holiday, and I was one of those kids who insisted on making my own costumes. I read a lot as a kid, so more often than not, the costumes I made were my own interpretations of characters in the books I was reading. My parents were always supportive of this creative outlet, and they were the ones who taught me how to do things like use spray paint and sew safely.
However, I didn’t start actually cosplaying until the spring of my freshman year of college. I first found out what cosplaying was from the nerd side of the internet when I was in high school, but at that point cosplayers were people I admired from afar online. I had never been to a convention, I had no idea how to even begin making costumes of that scale, and those people seemed to have endless time and money to put into their hobby, while I was just trying to finish high school and get into college.
But in my second semester of my first year of college, I rushed a selective living group called Arts Theme House, a group of wildly creative nerds whose president, now one of my closest friends, was a cosplayer. She convinced me to go to my first convention, Wizard World Raleigh, over spring break of my freshman year. Having always wanted to go to a con and cosplay, I agreed to go, and the rest, they say, is history.
She and I (as well as a steadily-growing group of friends from Arts Theme House) have since gone to other North Carolina-based cons as well as SDCC last summer. Our next one will be Animazement in May!
2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying?
I am what you might call a stealth nerd — most people don’t know how dorky I truly am. When I’m not cosplaying, I am a neuroscience student at Duke. I’m usually either in class, working in my lab, or playing in the drumline of our marching band at football and basketball games! I also do musical theater, am in a sorority, play as a dark elf rogue in a D&D group, and will talk your ear off about intersectional feminism and Queer topics.
After college I hope to go to grad school for a Ph.D. in neuroscience and, of course, keep going to cons and cosplaying.
3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
The first time I tried to make foam armor was for my Sif cosplay and it started to fall apart within about an hour at the convention. It was pretty disappointing, but I learned from the experience and I’ll be tackling another armor project for Animazement!
Another interesting cosplay adventure was Poison Ivy. Don’t get me wrong — she’s one of my favorite characters and it was incredibly fun to cosplay as another badass Queer science lady, but sometimes I have foliage flashbacks…
My main challenge, with any costume, is finding materials on that broke college student budget and working within the confines of a dorm room. I don’t have a sewing machine here, so all of my fabric-heavy costumes are hand-sewn (I actually prefer hand-sewing for the ease of fine detail and intricacy, but sometimes the blisters make me wish I had a machine for the purposes of just plain seams).
Overall, though, cosplaying has been incredibly rewarding. I love that people will refer to you as your character’s name, like you’re a princess at Disney World or something. My current favorite cosplays are, interestingly enough, my first ever cosplay (Asami) and my most recent one (Rey). Both are incredibly comfortable to wear around a con, easily recognizable, and were fun to make, but perhaps more importantly, I admire and identify strongly with both characters. Cosplaying isn’t just about the costume; it’s so much more fun when you can embody the character. I tend to choose the characters I want to portray based about 60% on what I can feasibly make (of course), but the rest of the decision is based on who I admire, which tend to be smart, strong female characters like Asami, Poison Ivy, Sif, and Rey. Being able to take on the role of some of my fictional role models is one of the most rewarding parts of cosplay.
4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
In terms of making the costume itself, give yourself plenty of time before the con and then just go for it. Expect to mess up — if you have the budget, buy extra materials, and be accepting of flaws because your costume isn’t going to be perfect. And that doesn’t matter once you get to the con.
When you’re at the con, remember that the part of cosplaying that differentiates it from other creative outlets of fandom (like drawing fanart or writing fic) is that it is an inherently social activity — the end goal is to show off your creation at a con and meet people who are fans of the same shows and make friends. The best part of cosplaying is just that everyone else is also a huge nerd who likes the same stuff as you, and the community tends to be really supportive. Even if your costume’s quality isn’t perfect, people are still excited to see you at cons and there’s just a lot of love there.
Also, for the con itself, pack smart: carry a con bag with snacks, water, Advil, band-aids or blister relief for shoes, safety pins, and fabric tape in the event of wardrobe malfunctions. Keep your badge on you at all times because it sucks to lose it and have to buy a new one. Then meet people. Go up to cosplayers and take photos (ask first!), and then spend a couple minutes talking to them if they have the time. Be gracious when someone wants to take your photo, even if your face hurts from smiling. Just have fun.
5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
The issue of touching and/or harassing cosplayers without their consent has been in the spotlight lately and is being addressed, so I won’t go in depth on that but I thought it was worth echoing.
I would really like to see more inclusiveness in the cosplay community — not restricting cosplayers because of their body size, age, gender, or race. The community could also be better about accepting cosplays regardless of quality: at the end of the day, cosplay is a celebration of fandom, and some people are more talented at making costumes, have more time and a larger budget to dedicate to cosplay, but that doesn’t mean that they have more love for the fandom, and that’s what it’s all about.