First Names and Last Initials: Tiphani and Tamarah D.
Where are you from originally, or where do you reside currently? We are both originally from Missouri.
How long have you been cosplaying? We have been cosplaying off and on for about 10 years. We started cosplaying around 2005, took a brief hiatus for life things, and then started back up around 2015. It has since become our favorite hobby.
What characters have you cosplayed? So many!! We tend to do cosplays from our favorite video games, and characters from our childhood. Some of our favorites were Balthier and Vayne from Final Fantasy XII (we’re pretty much Final Fantasy trash), Vegeta and Frieza from Dragon Ball Z, and Wily Kit and Wily Kat from the Thundercats. Generally we pick characters from games with designs we like (since we like to compete) and/or hit us right in the nostalgia.
What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying? Lately, we’ve noticed a trend of people over-complicating cosplay. You don’t have to make it your full time job, you don’t have to have access to fancy equipment, and you don’t have to have a massive following to be a successful cosplayer. Cosplay is all about having fun as a character in a costume. Some people prefer to buy them, some people prefer to make them. Some people like to wear sexy cosplays, others like big armor builds. The best advice we can give a new cosplayer is to not sweat cosplay so much. You don’t have to cosplay a certain way to have fun.
That said, it is also critical that you are aware that cosplayers are human beings in costumes–that means that while having fun in cosplay is what the end game is, we don’t shed our social and politicized identities just because we walk out on a convention floor. Cultural appropriation, Black/Brownface, and other imitations of marginalized groups are still not okay even if you are in a costume.
Why do you feel that #28DaysofBlackCosplay is important? Representation!!!! It’s so important for people to see others that look like them–for other cosplayers who are already in the game to know that they aren’t alone, and for new cosplayers who might be afraid that there aren’t others who look like them. There’s still the impression that Black people don’t cosplay in mainstream cosplay circles, in part because of the issues with representation. We make up an incredibly diverse, exciting and gorgeous part of the cosplay community.
What is one thing the PoC cosplay community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other as well as non PoCs? Some of the same issues in the mainstream cosplay community affect the PoC community too. We want to make that clear–being PoC cosplayers isn’t any more dramatic than the rest of the cosplay community. But in regards to what makes us different, our PoC-ness, We’d like to see PoC cosplayers embrace who we are as cosplayers. It can be easy to de-legitimize ourselves when cosplayers dominating media don’t look like you. It’s important that we recognize that we are just as talented, magical, powerful and skilled as anyone else.
In regards to interacting with non-PoC cosplayers, it’s 2018–we’re far past accepting Blackface/Brownface and cultural appropriation. It’s time to hold those around you accountable for racism, sexism, and any other areas of discrimination you see in and outside of the cosplay community. It’s not acceptable to fence-sit, or play devil’s advocate, or excuse yourself out of the problem just because you aren’t doing it yourself. It’s time to be an active ally for issues of social justice. If you have questions, find PoC who are knowledgeable in the issue–use Google, and educate yourself. We’re out here trying to have a good time in cosplay, and we can’t do that if we’re constantly having to step back and check racism.
Featured Image Credit: firekissedphotography.