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Cosplay is a lifestyle and an art

El+Camino+student+Sharon+Park+loves+to+cosplay+outside+of+school+and+has+really+enjoyed+dressing+up+as+female+and+male+characters+from+anime+and+games.%0APhoto+by+Cory+Schwarz.
El Camino student Sharon Park loves to cosplay outside of school and has really enjoyed dressing up as female and male characters from anime and games.
Photo by Cory Schwarz.

El Camino student Sharon Park loves to cosplay outside of school and has really enjoyed dressing up as female and male characters from anime and games. Photo by Cory Schwarz.

El Camino student Sharon Park loves to cosplay outside of school and has really enjoyed dressing up as female and male characters from anime and games. Photo by Cory Schwarz.

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Several minutes is all it takes to change a person’s appearance and thousands of people do it everyday, whether for work or for fun.

Cosplayers come in a wide variety of people around the globe and Sharon Park is one of them.

“I got addicted after seeing everyone getting pretty with their cosplays,” Park, 23, fashion major, said. “I hand sewed (my first outfit) so I was pricking myself because I didn’t know anything about sewing.”

Cosplay, short for “costume play” is when a person dresses up to appear as a character from a game, anime, a movie or television show.

Park cosplays as different anime characters and said that while at first she loved dressing up as female characters she now likes to cosplay as male characters.

“Cosplaying as female characters didn’t click (for me) very often. I had to wear skirts (and) girly things,” Park said. “(That was) not really how my character was at that time.”

As early as 4:30 a.m., Park gets up to get ready and then goes to scheduled photoshoots with other cosplayers.

She plans far in advance to make her costumes and it can be tough when other friends want to join as it takes commitment, planning and attention to detail.

At conventions like Anime Expo, Anime Los Angeles, FanimeCon, Pacific Media Expo and YaoiCon, Park shows off her work and she has even gone as far as Japan and Korea to attend conventions.

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Sharon Park, 23, is a fashion major who loves to cosplay, but also enjoys being herself.
Photo by Cory Schwarz.

Japanese cosplayers are remarkably similar to American cosplayers, Park said.

“When we all look at each other (we look) for the details first, because when we don’t see it, we go ‘(He or she) half-assed it,’” Park said. “And that’s how people would judge (you) for cosplay.”

Kayci Richards, a friend of Park’s, said that seeing her cosplay led her to be more confident and open with herself and to others.

“Seeing her being so confident while wearing these amazing costumes is truly awe-inspiring,” Richards said.

Regarding Park’s preference to cosplay as male characters, she said that other cosplayers don’t see gender, they see the “Big Three,” which are the clothes, the shoes and the hair.

Despite countries like Tokyo banning males from dressing as female characters to limit harassment from male cosplayers, Park said she wants freedom in cosplay; letting people dress up as anyone they choose, regardless of gender.

“It’s still not fair for (them) to not cosplay whatever they want because, it’s freedom,” She said. “They should just tell people to keep their hands to themselves.”

Park added that attending conventions with a group is more fun and builds relationships within the cosplay community.

Her friend Stephanie Henzon agreed.

“Through cosplay we get to bond together over what we love about (it),” Henzon said.

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Cosplay is a lifestyle and an art