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Just how similar are cosplay and parenting? More than you think

Parenting and cosplay are undertakings I wouldn’t normally compare. Raising a child is serious and life-changing, while “the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially from the Japanese genres of manga and animé”—as the online dictionary defines cosplay—seems fickle and frivolous.

But I changed my mind after attending a comic convention with my daughter and meeting a few top notch cosplayers and costume makers there. As I listened to these world-class talents speak about their entertaining exploits, I realized that the two endeavors have, in fact, more similarities than differences.

Here are eight reasons why:

Both cosplay and parenting require pretense. Cosplayers usually dress up as their favorite superhero or villain, just like some dads don a Santa Claus outfit during Christmas, and moms become the invisible, money-giving Tooth Fairy for their children.  At times, parents have to pretend, too, that they know what they’re doing and that everything will be all right—even though they are scared or unsure—just to appease their brood.

Both easily attract comments, criticism, and advice. There’s no pleasing everyone. No matter how unique, eye-catching, and clever a cosplayer’s outfit is, there is bound to be a negative comment (or two or three) among the praises and raves. Similarly, parents, even if they mean well, are repeatedly judged on their choices and actions, particularly on contentious issues like feeding, vaccination, having a career, and disciplining kids. “What’s important is you’re doing your best and enjoying what you do. Do not let one off-putting comment among the many positive ones you receive get you down,” notes cosplayer, model, actress, and host LeeAnna Vamp.  For Bill Doran, costume maker extraordinaire of Punished Props, criticism and negativity should be taken with a grain of salt.

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  • COSPLAY X PARENTING Another satisfying thing we learned from AsiaPOP Comicon Manila 2016: Cosplaying is so much like parenting. No two cosplayers, and parents for that matter, are created equal. They just need to be confident in the characters, and roles, they play.(Manila Bulletin)
  • (Manila Bulletin)
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  • (Manila Bulletin)

Being hands-on is a must to fully understand capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. You will never know if you can pull off a particular ensemble or how fast you can finish it if you don’t make it yourself, just as you won’t know your child’s talents, likes, dislikes, and progress if you don’t spend time and do things with him. True, you will fail at first, but the key is “to fail fast and to learn from your mistakes,” counsels Bill.

Traveling light is impossible. International cosplay phenomenon and journeying artist VampyBit Me admits that luggage is always a problem for her, the same as other cosplayers who have to pack and transport cumbersome garb and props to various events. For sure, moms and dads, especially the newbies, who have to lug a car seat, stroller, heaps of clothes and diapers, toys, baby food, and other infant paraphernalia to different destinations, can relate.

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy or solution for either activity. That’s why there are free range and helicopter parents, and moms and dads who are neither, while there are cosplayers who craft their own costumes and those who only buy and wear them. Bottom line is, you do and stick to what works for you and accept that we all have our own styles and quirks. Cosplayer and avid gamer Monika Lee, for instance, likes going from top to bottom when making outfits, while Bill prefers doing “the hard stuff” first.  LeeAnna, on the other hand, reveals that she is happiest and most creative when working on the floor, with all her fabrics and materials spread before her. Vampy divulges that her partner, sculptor Jesse R. Yu, can’t stand the mellow tunes and K-Pop hits she likes, but she listens to them anyway because the music relaxes her and makes work more enjoyable.

Both cosplay and parenting can deprive you of sleep. “I work 18 hours a day,” says Vampy, who doesn’t only design clothes and toys and make large robot costumes, but also interacts regularly with her countless fans, besides editing and posting videos and other relevant content daily on social media. Consequently, sleep has become a luxury to her. “Vacation for me is staying home and sleeping for a week,” she says. Indeed, just like moms who breastfeed at all hours, care for a sick child, or slave away at an important project such as an upcoming birthday bash or an attire for Halloween or a school play.

Both benefit tremendously from having a support group. Like moms and dads who befriend, carpool, and swap tips plus hilarious and horrific stories with their fellow parents, cosplayers are equally grateful for their colleagues, pals, family, and contacts. They hang out and are regulars at comic conventions and allied events. Bill mentions having a handful of people he really trusts, who are “the best at what they do,” and who he can rely on no matter what happens.

Both need energy and enthusiasm for maximum success and enjoyment. “You may have the nicest things, toys, and tools, but if you don’t have the energy and enthusiasm for what you do, it will show,” points out LeeAnna. Like parents who have bucket lists, or who plan summer vacations, sporting activities, and specialized classes for their children, Monika, LeeAnna, and Vampy constantly think of characters to emulate and outfits to fabricate. For Monika, making a beautiful costume is not enough.  It has to fit superbly as well and become like clothing to the wearer. Bill, too, is keen on planning and imagining. “I have a list of things I want to make so I will never run out of things to do,” he says.