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Interview with Raven Star Cosplay (Being Body Positive)

What got you into cosplay?

Way back when, I think this was in 2007 or 2008, I visited a local ren faire. After gawking at everyone for an hour or so, I realized I really, really wanted to join them! When I thought about which type of character I most wanted to be, I instantly settled on a character from a videogame. I wasn’t aware cosplay existed, so I just kind of stumbled into it! I asked a friend’s mum to make me a costume and the year after that I started making my own. Everything just kind of spiraled from there.

How do you explain cosplay to friends/family member who don’t know this hobby?

“I’m a big nerd who makes costumes from video games and dresses up to go to conventions to meet other nerds who dress up in costumes.”
People tend to not understand until I show them pictures and then they’re usually quite impressed / excited! ^^

What has been your favourite cosplay to date?

Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn will always have a special place in my heart. I started on that costume shortly after the first E3 trailer in 2015 and it has allowed me to meet so many amazing people and has opened up so many awesome opportunities. I will forever be grateful to everyone at Guerrilla Games for being so good to me and to the friends I’ve met through that costume. The game’s not bad either 😉
Another favourite of mine is Vax’ildan from Critical Role. The costume itself is nothing special, I whipped it up in 2 weeks, but it was my first experience crossplaying and I felt intensely comfortable! The character means a lot to me in many ways and I got to meet the man who played and came up with him, Liam O’Brian, while wearing the costume!

You seem to travel a lot around Europe. Where has been your favourite country to visit and which country has the best Comic Con event and why?

Whenever I visit for a con, I usually only visit to see the con without seeing much of the country, sadly. The Netherlands didn’t use to have a comic con scene until 2015 or so, so I can’t really say I have years of experience to compare to. I really enjoy going to MCM London in October. The location’s great, there are a lot of interesting guests and artists and I’ve made so many amazing friends at the con!

I’ve also seen your twitter really shows a very “positive body” feed. Why are you so passionate about this?

I spent most of my life hating my body and having a love-hate relationship with food. When I was 18 or so, my negative body image and food issues spiraled into a full blown eating disorder. I was at an all time low and struggled with depression, negative body image and disordered eating. This lasted for several years. I got professional treatment, but never felt like I had truly recovered.
Body positivity and intuitive eating were the keys to developing a better relationship with my body and with food. They were my ‘way out’ so to speak.
I spent years not doing the things I wanted to do because I was terrified of how people would react to my body or because I felt I couldn’t do them because I didn’t ‘look right’. I don’t want anyone to feel that way. I don’t want anyone to feel as low as I did. So I’m devoting a large portion of my time to educating people about body positivity, coaching and using my own body and story as an example to others. If I can get out of this, so can you.

How do you feel about celebrity voicing their concerns about health matter or sponsored products?

You know, I think body positivity is going mainstream which in a lot of ways is very awesome! The more people know about body positivity and fatshaming, the better we can all band together to help each other. Sadly, the message of bopo and fat acceptance is often getting diluted by big brands and big names. People will add disclaimers like: “As long as you’re healthy” (which is bull since health is not a requirement for (body) respect and it’s often secretly a way to still be fatphobic while claiming to be looking out for someone’s health). I’m glad people with a big platform are spreading the message! I just hope that the message being spread is the most inclusive one possible and includes marginalized groups, and does not contain fatshaming or fatphobic additions.

Also you have a body positive website. What is it all about and how can people get involved?

I do! In 2018 I quit my day job to start my own business. I’m currently the owner of Bodypositive Living. I help people to stop messing about with food and make peace with their bodies through self acceptance and intuitive eating.
A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with food and struggle with self-esteem issues. I know from experience it doesn’t have to be like that, so I started my coaching business to help others out.
I host lectures about body positivity at conventions and other locations and I coach people who want to start learning how to trust themselves around food and leave the diets behind so they can focus on a relaxed relationship with food.
If you’re curious about my work, please have a look at my website or follow me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!

Has Cosplay helped you in your body positive message?

Yes! Cosplay has been a great outlet for me. I enjoy going against the grain and doing things bigger girls aren’t ‘supposed’ to do. In a cosplay culture that sometimes values ‘likeness’ above all else, it’s nice to be a voice for just having fun, forgetting the idea of looking exactly like someone (we’re making costumes based on a bunch of pixels for crying out loud!) and for self love and self acceptance.

What is the tip or advice you would give someone?

If you’re the least bit interested in cosplay, please just give it a go! It doesn’t matter whether you make a costume, alter it or buy it entirely. If this seems like something you might want to do, give it a shot!
As for non-cosplay advice: Find what makes you uniquely ‘you’ and cherish it. I can guarantee you this world needs it.

Is there a cosplay you were initially uncomfortable wearing but have now since worn it because of your experience?

Yes! A few years ago I dreamt about doing a Bayonetta cosplay and then immediately dropped it because I told myself I’d never wear a bodysuit. I realized how ridiculous it was that I kept telling people to do what they wanted but had the self imposed limit of not wearing a bodysuit!
So I made the damn costume and while creating it was definitely a very heavy experience that brought out a lot of old insecurities, I loved wearing it and felt extremely empowered! It was also really nice to share my journey of making that costume and the insecurities I faced while making it online. I realized a lot of people connected to it, which made them feel less alone which was amazing!

Money is no object, which cosplay and location you love to shoot at?

Aloy’s Shadow Stalwart armor at Bryce Canyon in the USA.
Words can’t express how much I’d love to make that costume and shoot it there.

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