Junior cosplays for personal expression


As Long’s cosplay character Nitori is a swimmer, Long finds herself in character at the pool. She meets many people as Nitori, all with an equal passion for hand-making the costumes and attending conventions.

Ever heard of cosplay? Spend a minute with junior Rachael Long and you’ll consider yourself an expert. While doing her hair and applying her makeup for her character Nitori, Long had a twinkle in her eye and an unwavering smile on her face, and to me that is truly refreshing and almost inspiring. Cosplay brought out her dedication for her art and it brought out an inner euphoria that I’d never seen in her. There was such an ease about it; I could tell her passion wasn’t forced; creating and sharing her cosplays with people at conventions is what she was meant to do.

For Long, living a life without cosplay wouldn’t be a life worth living. “I wouldn’t have a getaway in a sense. Some people have that through reading or something like that, but for me it’s like I watch a series and I really connect to this character and I’m like ‘This is a great character. I want to be this character.’ Then I can, and then people will just appreciate that and I appreciate it too. It’s a way that I can be someone else while still being myself. I’m not hiding myself in any way, but I’m more like expressing myself through someone else,” Long said.

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For Long, cosplay isn’t just a hobby or an activity, it’s a lifestyle. Whenever Long gets bored or doesn’t have anything to do, she’ll work on her upcoming cosplay or order pieces for the outfit online. However, this lifestyle of cosplays and conventions is completely unheard of to many people.

“Cosplay is when you get really passionate about a show and you get really attached to a character, or you just really love a character, so you decide to cosplay them. It’s when you dress up as that character. Some people who are really good at it will make their own costumes, and it’s really impressive and really cool and cosplays can be from TV shows, video games, or anime,” Long said.

Cosplayers attend conventions or “cons” held throughout the year to share their rendition of a character with the rest of the world either through competitions or by just meeting people. Comic Con and Katsucan, which is an anime convention held in Washington, D.C., are two of the most massive conventions for cosplayers. Long’s most recent convention was over Halloween, and now she’s looking forward to her upcoming convention over spring break in March where she’s will be part of a competitive dance group with other cosplayers including senior Mari Larsen.

At these conventions, Long is free to be anyone she wants to be, and her range of characters is not limited in any way. “It’s kind of like a second home because everyone is really accepting and really welcoming because no matter what you look like; you can cosplay anyone. You’re never not the right body shape or not the right race or anything. It’s just like, you love this character; people will appreciate that,” Long said.

The conventions are a way to help her relieve her stress, let go, and have a great time. “It’s just a way to feel happy because I can be this person and people appreciate that, and it’s not like ‘Your hair looks nice.’ They seriously mean it like, ‘I love how you did your makeup. That is seriously amazing!’ or ‘You look like you put so much dedication into this, I applaud you!’ And when they ask to take a picture with you, it’s really honorable because you know they’re appreciating your effort and knowing that you did put time into this. They love your passion,” Long said.

Another reason that Long cosplays is because of the unconditional love she receives from fellow cosplayers who know nothing about her but approach her for pictures or to compliment her just because they love her cosplay. “It’s a good feeling when people appreciate you without knowing your faults or anything about you simply because they just see your effort and your love for this character and then they just feel that, and they appreciate it. It’s a really nice feeling,” Long said.

It’s really honorable because you know they’re appreciating your effort and knowing that you did put time into this. They love your passion.

— Rachael Long


Cosplay is unique because, unlike sports or other activities, there is no winner or loser. “With cosplay you win no matter what, because people love the character and they don’t really care about the quality, but if it is high quality, of course people are going to take more pictures, but still if you handmade it and you’re not the best at sewing or whatever they’re still going to appreciate it and be like ‘you did a really good job’ so there’s not like competition but overall everyone is just happy,” Long said.

Long began cosplaying in high school, but she was first exposed to cosplay in sixth grade by her friend who is four years older than she is. “I loved seeing her get really excited when some of her pieces came in the mail; she would just start crying and be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so excited.’ It’s so amazing that someone can get so excited that a hair clip came in the mail. That’s really cool that something that small could bring someone such happiness, and now I’m feeling that,” Long said.

Costumes can be quite expensive if you buy them off of the Internet, so Long pushes herself and dedicates her time into personally creating breathtaking cosplays whenever she can. “My person has this jacket and it’s super intricate and I was like, ‘I’m not buying that $100 jacket,’ so I put on duct tape and I drew it on and people always asked me ‘you did that?’ and I’m like “yeah” and they’re like “That’s so cool!” and I’m like thanks, I literally worked for five hours to sharpie it on,” Long said.

Long’s passion for cosplay has exposed her to fellow cosplayers at BSM and in the larger community across the country who share her passion. Even though Long may never see some of these people anywhere other than conventions, she maintains correspondence over Facebook and social media to exchange cosplay tips and keep the friendship alive.

“Cosplaying has become a really big part of my social life because when you go to conventions, you usually go with friends and your friends know other friends, and there’s this huge amount of people you’re going to meet and become friends with,” Long said.