One day, I was perusing through Facebook and stumbled across this picture that had me way too geeked. You see, there was this fabulous plus size lady dressed up in a wonder woman costume, with her own spin to it. I knew immediately, that I had to interview, feature, and learn more about her.
I mean, wouldn’t you?
So I had the chance to ask her a few questions, have her show off her style and wares, and shed a bit of light into the world of cosplay! So please keep reading to learn more about Brichibi Cosplays!
Plus Size Cosplay SHERO- Brichibi Cosplays
For those of us who are unfamiliar, what is cosplay?
Cosplay is a combination of the words “costume” and “play.” What cosplayers do is make or buy costumes to represent their favorite characters. The “play” comes in when a cosplayer takes on the personality of the character they’re dressed as, bringing them to life, whether it’s posing as them for pictures or responding to people in the way their character would. Cosplay is done from all sorts of media: anime, video games, comic books, sci-fi, original characters, anything is fair game, which makes it really fun. You might go to a convention and see the Old Spice guy walking around with Flo from Progressive Insurance, or maybe you’ll see Deadpool dressed as Sailor Moon. The creativity is amazing!
Ohhhh I get it now! I always wondered because it is so varied… So, what got you into doing it?
Back in 2001, I was on a mailing list for an anime series called “Gundam Wing.” Through this list I met someone named Jessica Walsh, who went by Snow Tigra. Interestingly enough, we hooked up and are still together now, but through her I began to learn about a lot of things I had no idea about in the geek scene. She told me about anime conventions and she was going to one in Illinois called Anime Central, which was being held spring 2002. I wanted to go, too, to see what the whole thing was about and to meet Snow in person. I took a bus from Iowa State University — where I was going to school — to Chicago, which is my hometown. My dad took me to the hotel and that’s where I saw cosplay for the first time.
I’ll never forget being in the car with him, because we were looking for the hotel, and I looked out the window to see these people in costume walking down the sidewalk. I was like, “I think the hotel is that way…” It was so amazing to see my favorite characters brought to life: Vash the Stampede of “Trigun,” sailor scouts from “Sailor Moon,” all the stuff I was watching on Toonami was right there in front of me. I met up with Snow, who was cosplaying, too, and she explained the whole thing to me. 2 years later, in 2004, I cosplayed for the first time. I haven’t stopped since.
Did comics have a huge role on your life as a child?
Sort of. Honestly I was a geek for all sorts of things. I loved video games and still do. Growing up, I was the girl who got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas and who found everything in “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” I was also huge into anime, I still am, to this day. These are the two things I was really into in my childhood.
My dad is a comic book guy and my mom is into the Marvel and DC heroes, always watching the latest releases. I learned about Batman through the old Adam West show and the Tim Burton movies. I learned about Superman through the Christopher Reeve movies. I watched Bruce Lee as Kato in Green Hornet. I even remember the old T.V. series for the Flash and, of course, Wonder Woman, because what geeky girl didn’t fall in love with her?
Who is your favorite character to portray and why?
I feel like the answer always changes because I get a new cosplay and then I end up falling for that character. Once upon a time it was Princess Peach from “Super Smash Brother: Brawl,” especially with how it led to me writing a piece for xoJane, but then I put on Princess Tiana from “Princess and the Frog” and think, “I’m a Disney princess this is my favorite thing in the world!”
Currently I have two favorites. I still love Princess Tiana, I always will. There’s something about wearing her that just makes me feel good. She’s the first black Disney princess, and I love walking around and being her. My favorite thing about her is the response she gets, not just from children, but their parents. I feel like their parents actually react more than they do. I have really special moments with Tiana, I think.
I still remember meeting a father and daughter at a convention as her. They were both black, and the little girl’s eyes just lit up. Her reaction reminded me of the reaction I had when I first saw Storm in X-Men, this moment of, “There’s a black woman, there’s a woman who looks like me who is amazing in this show.” But it was this girl’s father who I remember most. He just smiled at me, and had this look of, “Thank you for being here for my child.” This is why Tiana has a special place in my heart.
My second favorite is Wonder Woman. Hands down. I love Wonder Woman so much. When I wear her I just feel so empowered. I think she may be the one costume where, when I get hate on because of my weight, my brain is like, “Whatever, I look damn good right now.” Not that I don’t feel good in all of my cosplay, but something about Wonder Woman just makes me feel strong. She’s just such a strong character and a great role model that when I put on that dress I feel powerful.
How do you feel when you cosplay?
It depends on the character. I usually do princesses and things like that, which makes me feel beautiful and, in Wonder Woman’s case, strong. That’s the magic of cosplay, really. You can be a gorgeous princess one minute, then a creepy animatronic bear the next.
I think cosplay is just a great way for people to express themselves. It’s not that I don’t feel beautiful in my normal life, but there’s something about cosplay that just makes me feel good the entire time — minus the initial period of putting on a corset for some characters, haha. I think it’s a way for some people to express themselves, and the love you get when you portray these characters is amazing. On top of that, it’s just a lot of fun to do!
Where do you shop for your items?
A lot of places. My partner, who I mentioned before, is the one who makes my cosplay. We’re a team in every sense of the word. For instance, with Wonder Woman, I sketched out the dress I wanted and she made it based on the sketch. Her skills have improved so much over the years, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in all of this.
As far as shopping goes, my make-up tends to come from Ulta these days. It’s really funny because I used to be the girl who hated make up and dresses, now I’m always eager to put on a hoop skirt and eye shadow. I also love shopping around for wigs, there’s some really neat online stores like Moe Mall, or even Amazon, but I always read reviews and stuff before I buy anything.
We also have a Halloween store here called “Halloween Express” that’s open all year long, and they get in some good quality wigs. I usually like to get wigs that I wouldn’t mind wearing on an everyday basis and not just for cosplay. Jo-Ann Fabrics is a great place for fabric. We also have a place here in Minnesota called SR Harris that is a huge fabric warehouse. We usually shop between the two to see who has the fabric we want and the best deals.
The assumption is that cosplay is expensive, and it can be, sure, my corset wasn’t the spendiest in the world but it was up there, but in some cases, you get what you pay for, and for a big girl like me I had to spend the money on a good quality corset (thanks Corset Story).
Do you find it a challenge being plus size and doing cosplay?
No, not anymore.
Oh??? Please, do tell us why not!!!
When I started cosplaying, I thought I absolutely had to find a character who was plus size and black. Needless to say, the options for a character like that are very small. Some characters fit my body type, some fit my race, but it’s rare to have one that fits both. So, in the beginning, I thought that meant that I couldn’t cosplay. The characters I liked looked nothing like me. But, the more conventions I went to, the more I wanted to cosplay, and I realized that cosplay is about being a character you like and having fun with it. We’re not all teenagers who morph into Power Rangers, but with cosplay, we could be, at least for a moment.
I think the trick is to make the costume work for the body you have, make it fit you in the right way. Be comfortable with what you’re wearing and rock it the way you want to. If you’re comfortable in your clothes, that really makes a difference. You walk around with confidence if you’re wearing something that you feel good in.
I feel like plus size cosplayers, at times, look at a character and think they’re off limits because of what they’re wearing. Catwoman wears a tight outfit, Sailor Moon has a short skirt, and Superman is rock solid. This doesn’t need to be something that discourages you. With my Wonder Woman, for instance, I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable in her outfit.
Now if a plus size woman can rock that look, then go for it! But me personally? I never liked short clothes, so I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable in the original outfit. I’m a skirt at the knees or longer kind of woman, you know? So I sketched a design that I would be comfortable wearing. I love ball gowns and giant skirts and that sort of thing, so I sketched Wonder Woman in a way that I would wear her, and I feel damn good when I wear it. That confidence in yourself really makes a cosplay pop. If you like what you’re wearing, it really shows, and that’s what makes people gravitate towards you.
Is the cosplay community supportive, impressed, or taken aback with your ingenuity?
It depends on the person. For the most part I get a lot of support and compliments, but there’s always that one person who has something negative to say. That’s the case in all things, really. There’s always that one person who only seems capable of being rude.
When people do have issue with your cosplay, how do you stay positive?
This is a question I get a lot. It’s really easy to focus on those negatives. For instance, when I was bashed in my Princess Peach cosplay I had a moment where I focused on the negative comments like “whale” and “wonder ball” and “looks like she’s going to go fry some chicken.” Then I realized that, wow, I had 3,500 positive hits on this cosplay, why was I letting one negative bring me down?
But that’s what happens, and I think it’s really important to talk about that. I think people assume that positivity and confidence is constant and are really down on themselves if they aren’t as confident as someone else.
Confidence isn’t something you can force. It develops over time, and even when it does, there are days where it falters. We all have days where the smile isn’t there. We all have moments of doubt. I always talk about being positive and loving yourself, which is true, but I think it’s also important to be honest. I’m not confident every day. Sometimes, I get a string of negative comments that feel like they go on forever, and they bring me down.
The important thing is to not let these comments KEEP you down.
There’s a couple of ways I do that. One thing I realized is that none of these negative remarks are about the costume itself. It’s always about my weight, or my race. These people never look at the work that goes into my cosplay, to them, it doesn’t matter. I’m fat. I’m black. Therefore, they feel the need to point that out. Honestly, they aren’t telling me things I don’t already know. “You’re fat.” Yes, I know. “That character isn’t black.” Yep, I know that, too. Anything else?
It’s pretty much the same garbage I heard growing up. I’ve been plus size for a good portion of my life. Before, I would get upset and keep those feelings to myself, especially since harsh comments came from all over the place. People would call me names. People would make assumptions about me before they got to know me.
Clearly, all I did was sit around the house and do nothing because of my weight, there was no way I was a good student who had after school activities, a job in high school, a boyfriend, and a college scholarship. None of that mattered because, “Fat means Lazy” to these people, but it’s not just these people who were judgmental.
Movies would come out where the hot guy would ignore the “fat chick” or even make bets with his friends about being able to get her, then he’d talk to her like he was doing her a favor, because clearly fat girls are friendless, lonely ladies who cling to any attention they get. Then he would get praise for seeing the error of his ways when he realized that, wow, fat girls are people. Meanwhile, girls would sneer and call her a cow.
I stay positive by remembering the positives. There are so many positives out there. They’re all around us. Friends. Family. Hell, if you can’t rely on friends and family there are plenty of online groups out there. I know there’s a lot of talk about online bullying and anonymous hate, but on the flip side, there are so many positive places to go to. There are so many cosplay groups that are all about showing love to one another.
What advice would you give newcomers?
Just go for it. If you want to cosplay, go for it. If there’s a character you want to cosplay, then cosplay them. Don’t be afraid to join in on the fun. Are there negative people out there? Yes. But if you stop and think about it you’ll realize that there are negative people everywhere you go.
So don’t stress about what people might say about you. Instead, think of positive “what if” scenarios. What if you go out there and have a good time? What if you go out there and get a lot of compliments? What if you make a cosplay that everyone loves? What if you go out there and make new friends? There are so many positive people in the cosplay community and so many positive things that happen. It may not feel like it, but there are, and they’re all here waiting to meet you.
Which character are you DYING to get into character as, that you haven’t yet? And why not?
The list is always growing! That’s what happens with cosplay. You do it once, you want to do it again, and again, and again. I really want to do more original versions to characters like Wonder Woman. I have Spiderman in mind and Captain America that I really want to do, and some friends and I are planning a Disney villain pin-up group for next year.
I also feel the need to do all of Princess Tiana’s outfits and my partner and I were talking about doing a new version to the green dress. There’s also Zelda from the game “Hyrule Warriors” and my partner wants to do Link so that we match. My ultimate dream cosplay is Maleficent and Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers. I’ve been wanting to do those for a while. I will, someday, once we have time and I can settle on something — I get really excited and change the characters I want to do at times. I feel like I’m at the point of having a couple of new costumes a year, so next year should be really exciting and fun.
WOW. I have to see your full collection! Okay, so what do you do outside of cosplay?
I’m a freelance writer/editor who works from home. I’ve had three books published (“Treat Me Kindly,” “Double Hue,” and “Seeking the Storyteller”), two short stories featured in gay romance anthologies through Dreamspinner Press, and have written for quite a few websites, be it sites geared towards women like xoJane or geeky sites that talk about anime, manga, and video games. My partner and I go to conventions to promote our books and sell the crafts we make. I’m sort of the convention manager, as in, I’m the one who submits our booth in hopes that we get a table to sell at. We both also want to start doing panels at conventions about cosplay and body confidence.
You are playful! I love you. What else would you like to share with us?
The other thing I’m slowly planning is our wedding. I don’t even know where to start, but I know what we want our theme to be: Mortal Kombat. We have all of these neat little ideas and we’re ready to start planning once we get a chance. It’s kind of funny because we didn’t think we’d have a chance to even think about marriage, but it’s legal here in Minnesota, so I guess it’s time. We’ve been together for 13 years, so we’re definitely ready!
WOW. You are impressive and amazing. Tell us everywhere we can find you!
Website: http://www.sewntogetherreflections.com/ | Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/brichibicosplays | Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrichibiTweets | Tumblr: http://brichibi.tumblr.com/ | Blog: http://brichibirants.wordpress.com/
My partner’s Facebook page (she makes my cosplay): https://www.facebook.com/snowcosplays
Lastly, what does Curvy.Confident.Chic. mean to you!?!
I think it’s great that things like this exist. I think plus size women (and men) need to see positive, beautiful representation of people who are their size. I also think they need to see plus size people being happy with who they are. The stereotype of the unhappy, fat loaf who sits on the couch being lazy is such a lie, and it kills me that that’s what some people expect when they think of a chubby person. I hate that it’s such a surprise to some people to see a plus size person wearing nice clothes and looking good, so I’m really glad to see positive representation out there.
Honestly, I think it’s just a great thing for everyone to see, not just plus size individuals. Society has such a skewed view on beauty. It’s always changing and the things we see aren’t always truthful (Photoshop, etc.) I get support from all sorts of people, not just plus size. There are plenty of people who are smaller than me who feel encouraged to love themselves when they see me. I feel like body positivity is something that’s beneficial to everyone. I feel like everyone has their insecurities, so seeing people embrace who they are is such a huge confidence booster. That’s what Curvy.Confident.Chic. means to me.