I made a costume. As I hemmed and seamed, I thought of how I would like to show this to my grandmother, who is a seamstress, when I finished. I examined and procured fabrics. I sewed buttons for the first time. I jabbed pins and needles through the skin of my fingertips. I made it through a process of telling myself this didn’t have to be perfect.
The costume is Aradia Megido’s from the webcomic Homestuck. She is connected with the astrological sign Aries, which happens to be my sign as well. When I was eleven-years-old, I used the screen name aries_4_ever. I’d fashioned a persona to go along with the name, not someone I pretended to be online, but a mental image of someone I wanted to be like. She went by Aries (naturally). She was 19 with red highlights in auburn hair. She was sarcastic yet caring, laid back, funny. Maybe there were wings involved. If there were, they were red. Younger self, this is probably the closest you ever come to that person you imagined. 19 won’t be like that, but you already know that. But hey, you make the costume yourself, you know.
The whole getup was for Dragon*Con. I’ve never been to a real con before. When I was in the eleventh grade, I attended a rather different kind of convention - a mock Congress in Washington, D.C. Idealistic high school students debated bills they wrote and got talked at by minor political officials for a weekend. I spent a good amount of this convention doodling. An anime convention was going on in the hotel next door that same weekend. It was always comical when the teenage politicos attempting to look serious in their business suits passed the cartoon costumed, dyed-haired anime kids. My chaperone mother remarked on how well behaved the anime kids were, perhaps as if she expected them all to be acting out their outfits as they navigated hotel lobbies. I still feel more like I’m playing dress up when I put on a suit or even a long-sleeved blouse than I did when I was wearing this costume for an entire day.
There were a goodly number of people who recognized the costume. One woman asked to take my picture while I was still standing in line to get my ticket, before I’d even put the horns on or the hood up. There was a Homestuck cosplay meetup in a nearby park. (These photos, taken by gentristar, are from there.) It’s weird. There are pictures of me in the cameras and on the computers of strangers. People I talked to for a few minutes about a comic will maybe some day show their friends a picture of me and say, “Here is this character.” Of course, I will do the same with my pictures of similar strangers. I feel a kind of safety in this anonymity, in the fact that almost no one I met that day will know about me beyond the craft of this costume. There doesn’t really need to be more than that, though. Conventions offer solidarity in familiarity, in the simple fact that the people all around are there for the same reasons, in spite of or because of whatever silly outfits everyone is wearing.