Friday, January 16, 2015

Convention Wish List

This is my first time participating in 5 Fandom Fridays! This is a weekly link-up started by The Nerdy Girlie and SuperSpaceChick. Each week brings a different prompt. I'll be participating here and there.

This week's prompt was "Conventions I've Been to or Wish to Attend." Since I always blog about conventions I attend, I thought I'd share my convention wish list! This list would have looked different just a few years ago -- SDCC and DragonCon are two conventions that I've always wanted to attend, and now I have!

5 Fandom Fridays: Convention Wish List
1. New York Comic Con (NYCC)
From my understanding, NYCC is like SDCC's northern counterpart. It's huge, full of amazing guests and vendors, and my friends who have been all love it!

2. Anime Expo
Even though I'm not into anime as much as I used to be, it still feels like Anime Expo is the otaku pilgrimage I have to make!

3. Toronto Comic Arts Festival
I didn't think I'd be interested in a Canadian convention, but apparently I like a lot of artists and internet personalities who are Canadian or live north enough in the United States to trek to TCAF each year. I am always filled with envy whenever I see posts from TCAF!

4. ColossalCon
ColossalCon is located at a resort that has the largest indoor water park in the country. You know what that means -- plenty of beach/water-themed photoshoots! This seems like such an amazing convention to cosplay at.

5. GeekGirlCon
I feel like GeekGirlCon would be such an inspiring, enriching experience. I have visions of presenting a panel or two and celebrating the wonder of geek girls everywhere.

What's on your convention wish list?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Insecurities & Body Image -- How to Find the Root of an Issue

I told my mom about my tattoo so now I can post day two of the #modsummer photo challenge - a pic of my kicks (and mostly my new tattoo!)  @modcloth

The beginning of 2015 found me sitting at a notepad, pen in hand, to make a list of goals for the new year. But when I finished, it was pretty obvious that something was missing.
  • Blog more.  
  • Lose weight.  
  • Get down to a size X.  
  • Go to yoga more often. 
  • Go to the gym more often. 
  • Eat X vegetables a day. 
  • Graduate. 
  • Get a "real" job.
The list was too broad and didn't actually represent what I wanted from 2015. When I narrowed down my goals to focus on what I truly wanted to achieve, I realized so many of these were not my own goals, but goals that I felt like I should want to accomplish. Now, my list looks a little more like this:
  • Write my Cosplay 101 e-book. 
  • Obtain a career in my field at a company I like. 
  • Expand my blog content. 
  • Bring back Superheroesque
  • Start a podcast with Liz.
That's more like it.

Conspicuously absent are any weight-related goals. Efforts to be healthier -- including exercising, eating well, and being more active in general -- are amazing goals, but for me, adding them to my to do list is more societally driven than personally driven.

I'm happy with my body. Sometimes it's a struggle, like it is for anyone, but for the most part, I'm fine with the way I look. In fact, I've started to realize that insecurities about my body only pop up when I'm already insecure about something else. If I'm self-conscious about my cosplay skills, I'll blame it on being a chubby cosplayer. If I'm nervous I won't do well in an interview, I immediately think of my weight and how that comes across to others. If someone doesn't like me, I'm worried they'll mention my weight when complaining about me. It sounds silly (and I felt silly when I realized it), but truly, I don't really care about my body, size, or looks until I'm worried about something else. In other words, my insecurities about my body are almost always a symptom of another issue. It's just so much easier to decide your feelings are about your appearance than to actually sort through them and figure them out.

Do I want to go to the gym more often? Sure. But it's not my goal right now, and that's cool. I realized this year that I'd rather wait until I actually have time to focus on my fitness goals than continually guilt myself into half-heartedly completing them.

3 Ways to Find the Root of a Body Image Issue

If you, like me, are beginning to suspect your body image concerns are caused by other factors, here's a few ways to zero in on them:
  1. Journal it out. If I can't pinpoint why I'm feeling bad, I always turn to journaling. Grab a pen and notebook, open a Word document, or however else you'd like to write, and just write down everything that comes to mind. Usually, I quickly find that my thoughts take a shift and I realize what's actually bothering me.
  2. Ask yourself, "So what?" This is a trick I learned from therapy. Have a conversation with yourself asking what's wrong, then reply to everything you say with "So what?" or "Why does that matter?" This will help you narrow down the issue or realize that it isn't actually a big deal.
    For example: "I'm worried I'll bomb my interview tomorrow." "So what?" "If I don't get this job, I'll have to start all over." "So what?" "I am worried about my finances." "So what?" "I don't want people to think I'm useless or can't find a job with my degree." 
  3. Mind map. A technique I've utilized recently is mind mapping, which I re-discovered through Passion Planner (example here). Using mind maps to narrow your goals will help you find out what you truly want to focus on. It's how I realized my initial goal list was definitely not what I wanted to do!

Further Reading

On How to Deal with Bad Body Image Days from Hey Liz
100 Things To Love About Yourself (That Have Nothing To Do With What You Look Like) from Harper Honey
This Year, #LoveTheMirror from The Militant Baker
Lumpy Gets Personal from Her Lumpiness (Trigger warning: Eating disorder talk)

Do your insecurities manifest as body image issues?

Shout out to Miss Lumpy for proofreading and offering very valuable suggestions for this post!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cosplay 101: The Cosplayer's Bookshelf

Since cosplay is a relatively new phenomenon that has only really taken off in the past decade or so, there are a growing number of cosplay-specific resources. These tend to fall into two main camps: visual eye candy and instructional books. Here, I've highlighted some of the visually inspiring cosplay books out there currently. I hope to do another roundup of tutorial-based books soon!

1. Cosplay in America

The classic! Cosplay in America is a coffee table book containing portraits of cosplayers from across the country. It perfectly encapsulates what conventions and cosplay felt like around 2005 - 2010. It's a different scene now, so flipping through the pages of Cosplay in America always feels nostalgic to me. If you need a dose of inspiration for your next costume or just want to reminisce about how fun conventions are, this is your pick.

The photographer/author, Ejen, did a Kickstarter for his upcoming sequel. I'm so excited for the next book! It'll include behind-the-scenes shots, too, in addition to portraits. I did an interview with Ejen last year, click here to read it.

Fun fact: The more people I meet in the cosplay scene, the more people I recognize inside the book!

2. Cosplay Composition: David Love Photography & Design

David Love Photography's images are simply stunning. This book features lots of cosplayers in well-crafted images and includes some tips on learning to photograph and edit photographs specifically for cosplay. Note that it is not an instructional book, however -- some of the Amazon reviews were pretty disappointed in that!

I'd love to pick this up to flip through whenever I'm feeling a lack of inspiration.

3. Cosplay: The Fantasy World of Role Play

This book will be released later in 2015, so it's not yet published, but from the descriptions and previews, it seems to be another photo-based book that also includes some descriptions of cosplay's origins, how the hobby expanded, and how it differs in different parts of the world. I'm excited to see a cosplay book that has a global take on the hobby!

The author, Lauren Orsini, is a cosplayer herself and writes about fandom culture, so this book seems promising. Choose this book if you want a global perspective on cosplay, a history lesson, and beautiful photographs.

4. Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up: Cosplay Deviants

This book takes the prize for the most unique book about cosplay yet! It features models from the website Cosplay Deviants, where your favorite characters are shown fully dressed then gradually undressed. While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, I love when cosplay is expanded to other areas. Cosplay burlesque (also known as "nerdlesque") is always creative and fascinating, and I have no doubt that Cosplay Deviants is equally so!

Keep in mind that this book does contain nudity, so it may not be appropriate as a coffee table book (depending on your preferences), but it's definitely worth checking out.

5. Cosplay World

This book is one of the newer books on cosplay, and it contains photos, interviews with some of the bigger, more well-known cosplayers, and a look at the costume construction process in some cases. This book appears to contain more Western-based media than some of the other cosplay books as well -- comics, video games, TV, movies, and more.

Cosplay World contains beautiful, well-organized cosplay photography, making it a new favorite for any cosplayer's bookshelf.

6. Breaking All The Rules: Cosplay and the Art of Self-Expression

Another cosplay photobook, Breaking All The Rules includes photos and interviews with over 120 cosplayers throughout America. This book is a little more text-heavy, so if you are interested in learning all about different cosplayers, why they started cosplay, and why they continue to cosplay, this is the book for you. 

This would make an excellent read for any cosplayer who loves people watching!

These are only a small selection of the books currently available about cosplay, and they all look fantastic! I'm excited to get my hands on some of these newer additions.

Do you have any books about cosplay to recommend?

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