Cosplay and Identity Thinking

Background: I have a class on Friedrich Nietzsche and sometimes my mind… it doesn’t wander off, it just likes to test understanding of key concepts by applying them to very different topics.

Okay, I admit it: it wanders off.

A few cosplayers or potential cosplayers I have spoken to in the past have talked to me about their hesitation to cosplay certain characters because that character is popular to cosplay. This wasn’t a factor of cosplay that I personally considered until I made the decision to cosplay Grell Sutcliffe—I figured that if I had been introduced to the series Kuroshitsuji by cosplay, then that certainly said something. And I did go through some of the questions that I’m sure those potential cosplayers asked themselves: how did I feel about cosplaying a character that, even at a small convention, there would be at least another cosplayer wearing the same costume? Maybe it’s the cosplayer’s version of that fear of going to a party and someone else is wearing your outfit. I got over it in about two seconds, but I’ve noticed that for some people, that’s an issue they take into consideration when planning.

Here’s where my mind wandered off during my lecture. So far as I’ve come to understand in my yet-to-be complete progression through his major works, Nietzsche basically (and I know that I’m getting myself in huge trouble just by trying to concisely summarize Nietzsche’s ideas) believes that identity statements, even in their simplest form like “Harry Potter is Harry Potter” are untrue. This is based on his belief that at any moment, someone is a different person from who they were in a previous moment because even the slightest change—from what’s going on in his or her train of thought to a shed skin cell—makes them different. He denies the definition of identity thinking that is, for this purpose, akin to potential cosplayers rejecting a character for fear of not wanting to do the same thing as anybody else.

If the character is the person, then the interpretation of that character by an individual cosplayer is like time’s influence on that person: always changing. And never the same.

Applied to cosplay, every single person’s interpretation of a character, no matter how popular, will be incredibly different. Even at the basics of costume construction, there are fabric choices, pattern choices, everything that goes into the physical representation of the character. But even if all of that were somehow identical to another cosplayer, there’s more, from how you represent your character to how that character resonated with you in the first place. Because of the nature of you being an individual cosplaying a character, you will be unique. Trust me: I can’t remember ever mixing up two people cosplaying the same character after I’ve had even the most basic conversation or glance at their costume.

 Not something to rule my character choices in the future, but something I had fun musing over for a little.

Much love,


Side note: Today I decided it would be an awesome idea to do all of my hand-sewing less than a foot away from my very hot iron. Of course, I burned myself. Please be smarter than me.


About greyrondo

My name is greyrondo. I've been a cosplayer since Fall 2006, and I've noticed that the best conversations I have with cosplayers usually involve the question, 'so how DID you do that?' So after studying costuming and making a closet's worth of costumes, that's what I'd like to help answer. Drop in and stay awhile whether you're a cosplayer or just a curious spectator; one of my musings is bound to be what you're looking for. If you have a question or something to say, leave a comment or contact me! I don't bite, I promise. View all posts by greyrondo

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