This week’s Cosplayer of the week is the fantastic Freijya. She has a huge variety of costumes and loves to cosplay to show her love of a character, be they male or female. We caught up with her to find out her opinions on ‘genderbending’ and cosplaying with tattoos.
Location: Brighton, UK
What is your favourite food? Coffee ice cream (particularly in milkshake form!)
What inspires you to cosplay?
I’m an escapist. When I’ve not got my nose in a book/comic or diving into a video game world, I cosplay. The creation process is a creative outlet, the cosplay itself allows me to become someone I admire. It’s also a confidence boost, I feel good in my cosplay and I’m proud of what I’ve made. Also, cosplay can be therapeutic. It doesn’t get rid of the problems but it does help your mental state if you’re having a rough time. I guess what I’m trying to say is cosplay inspires me to cosplay? I wouldn’t be a cosplayer without the creators of the worlds and characters I have come to know and love and fellow cosplayers who I am proud to call my friends – we are like a family, supporting, encouraging and teaching one another.
What has been your best experience in cosplay?
My most touching was the first time I wore Nightwing to London Super Comic Con 2015, a father dressed as the original comic Bane with his son as the movie Bane, came up to me and asked if he could take a photo of me with his son. As I knelt down to thank him after we took some photos, he hugged me and said “You’re my hero Nightwing”. My heart melted. The purity of his fandom – we could all learn from!
You have a few genderbent cosplays, can you explain what Genderbending is and why you choose to genderbend heroes?
Unlike crossplay which is making yourself look like the character which happens to be the opposite sex to you, boobs, facial hair, you will look like the sex you are cosplaying. Genderbending is in a nutshell reversing the sex of a character. It is also known as rule 63 cosplay “For any given male character, there is a female version of the character and vice versa”.
I personally don’t like “genderbend” as a word as it implies sex and gender are the same. Sex is Male and Female, gender is masculine and feminine attributes. Genderbent cosplayers create the opposite version of the existing character making a male a female and vice versa. So rule 63 is a more accurate term I think.
ANYWAY enough about semantics… why do I choose to do it? I’ve only once purposely made a character a rule 63 version – my Kid Flash. I took the male costume and made it female by using female running gear which consisted of a crop top and leggings. I then made Wally’s hair long and curly instead of short. This was a more fun relaxing costume for me, Wally is a fun character and I wanted to design my own female version because well I hadn’t done a rule 63 before and didn’t want to be confined to cosplays by what body I was born with. My two latest costumes, Nightwing and Green Lantern, I don’t consider “rule 63” myself as I kept the costumes exactly the same as the male suits, I cut my hair short to match theirs. I chose latex as a material because their suits are shiny and spandex just doesn’t do it for me. But it gets called rule 63 because you can see that I have a female body underneath the suit.
I don’t care that my favourite superhero has a penis, I want to show how much I love him by donning his suit, I want to run around and pretend to be him for a day instead of myself. Dick Grayson is AWESOME who wouldn’t want to try it out? To anyone who is worried they can’t do their favourite character because of their sex, go ahead and do it! Who cares if it isn’t accurate down to exactly the height and muscle mass of the person? They are fictional characters, often their proportions aren’t realistic or their armour is made out of something that doesn’t exist in real life. Don’t let it stop you, use what you have material wise and you are you, you can’t change that but the beauty of it means that your cosplay is unique.
You have a lot of tattoos, do these influence how you choose your cosplays? They are very cool though, which is your favourite tattoo and why?
My tattoos are separate from my cosplays, well except my Fairy Tail one….I wanted the tattoo anyway but got it in time for my Gray Fullbuster cosplay. Incidentally, any time my tattoo is on show now my cosplay is assumed to be from Fairy Tail. My favourite is still a work in progress but it’s my DC back piece. All my favourite DC characters in one place, with Nightwing in the centre of course! It’s still got Green Lantern Kyle, Huntress, Arsenal, Wally West Flash to be added to it. But so far it’s Red Hood, Nightwing and Tim as Robin, Gotham City Sirens, and Starfire. Is it obvious I’m a batfamily and Titans nut? I love Green Lantern too!
I don’t try to hide my tattoos or piercings since it doesn’t really matter, if anything it’s another chance to talk fandoms with people. Hiding them is a lot of effort, and well I’m proud of them why not show ‘em off? It doesn’t suit the character? NONSENSE, Angela looks even more badass with tattoos!
What advice would you give to other cosplayers?
Cosplay what you want to, I know you have characters you love. It may seem hard to choose which to do first (it is!) but pick one and go for it. Whether you choose an easier costume first or have the time and money to go straight to hard mode. Whether you can sew or have never sewn in your life. If you want to make your costumes, learning is part of the fun. I hadn’t sewn before and I made a whole costume from fabric and my sewing machine. I got frustrated but I kept at it and I learnt. I’m super proud of my Renna because it actually looks quite good! If you want to try a specific material, go for it! There is always a tutorial out there for you!
If you want to cosplay just to cosplay as a character, you don’t HAVE to make it yourself, you can buy costumes. It’s not a crime. I commissioned my Nightwing suit because I wanted to buy a suit from Shhh! Couture and I wanted it to be perfect. My Nightwing has become my more well known one over my Angela which I made entirely myself.
Ignore those internet trolls that are trying to dictate what cosplay is and holds the standard all cosplayers should be like Kamui or Yaya Han. Ignore anyone that says you’re too fat or skinny to cosplay. You aren’t and I can name plenty of cosplayers who look fantastic in cosplay that aren’t the same body type, or skin colour as the person they are doing. We are all just people sharing our fandom and having fun. Those people telling you that you are doing it wrong ARE wrong, there is no right way or wrong way to cosplay as long as you have fun and do what you want to. As well as a celebration of fandoms it’s also an artform and art is self-expression. Everyone does it differently, each cosplay is unique because you’ve put your own personal stamp on it knowingly or not.
And lastly, whether you are large or small, tall or short, man or woman, have abs or not, black, white…You know this list can go on forever. You can cosplay and you can cosplay whataver you want.
If there is one shop you could recommend for cosplay supplies, what would it be?
If there is one shop you could recommend for cosplay supplies, what would it be? If you are in Brighton “Artpothecary” sells worbla, milliput, plastazote and many supplied we struggle to get online and always helpful in discussing techniques and materials. Online and a wig user? Wigisfashion are AMAZING. I have to of course do a shout out to the amazing mask makers Tiger Stone FX all my masks come from them and they are not only amazing at what they do but very supportive of cosplayers and lovely people.