Young introverts open up through hobby

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Rebecca Yoakam, of Marysville, cosplays for both fun and charity. One of her cosplays is Huntress, based on the television show “Arrow,” that she wears for the charity group Heroes Alliance. She hopes to one day organize semi-regular cosplay get-togethers in Marysville.
(Photo submitted)
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Area cosplay enthusiasts find friendship, charity through events

Some residents of Marysville are joining together to promote their community through a pastime.
Cosplay is a hobby where people dress up as a character from pop culture, generally from video games and television shows, and gather with other people in the community to share their interests with each other. In Marysville, local cosplayers and artists were able to celebrate their interests at Mini-Con, at the Marysville Public Library, in August.
“Overall, cosplay in general for me, it’s kind of fun to be a different person for a while,” said Madeline Monroe. “It’s really easy to connect to other people visually in a crowd and be like ‘I know who you are, and I like this thing also,’ have that five-minute friendship, and go our separate ways.”
Monroe has attended Mini-Con in the past to sell her art. Before she started cosplay, she considered herself to be less confident and outgoing while being anxious and quiet. She said, through meeting up with people in cosplay at conventions, she’s had an easier time being able to express herself and communicate with others.
“Getting to be another person for a few minutes lets you be whoever you want to be without people judging you,” she said. “It’s helped me find a lot of like minded people and encouraged me to be a little more outgoing, to be a little more weird and to be different. The community is accepting and, like every culture, there is a bad side, but good side is really good.”
Monroe first got started in cosplay nearly 11 years ago, when she was 15 year old. She considers herself to be a simple cosplayer, assembling costumes out of ordinary clothing to represent her favorite anime and video game characters.
She said she attends conventions outside of Union County, mostly in Columbus, where she’s run into people from high school who recognize her in her cosplays. She met many of her friends through conventions. She met her friend, Regina Patterson, through cosplay, and sometimes they attend conventions together.
Patterson, like Monroe, has used cosplay to become more expressive and break her introvertedness. She got started in 2008, when she was attending Fairbanks High School. Since then, she’s been able to find friends at conventions and get groups together to attend conventions.
“I’m anxious and very to myself,” she said. “I like to pick characters that are basically polar opposites of myself, like ones who are very eccentric, out-there and outgoing. Ones that bring me out of my shell. The reason I got into it was an escape from the real world without going too far.”
With cosplay comes a participation aspect that goes beyond dressing up at conventions. With resident Rebecca Yoakam, she turned her hobby into an outlet for charity.
Yoakam has been cosplaying for more than 10 years and has saved more than 60 costumes she’s made since then. With her opinions changing about how she sees the convention scene, she started devoted her time and cosplay interest to Heroes Alliance, a charity organization that has people dress up as superheroes to entertain children or keep them company.
She’s been cosplaying for charity for nearly three years now, and she enjoys the work. Through cosplay and her charity work, like Monroe and Patterson, she’s had a better chance to express herself and make friends.
“With the friends I have, I wouldn’t have ever met them outside of conventions,” she said. “It gives me a way to meet people, so it gives me a common interest with people. If we’re cosplaying from the same series, you know you can talk to them about the series. You talk to some of them and you find out you have something more in common than you thought.”
Patterson said cosplay has helped her not only gain new friends but to also exercise her creative side. She said cosplaying at conventions has been a major part of her growing up and has inspired her to take on skills, such as sewing, and being able to construct props.
She said she likes to pick characters who are popular, which helps her connect with people more by being more noticeable in a crowd. She said it helps her see who’s interested in a hobby or interest and allows everyone to be able to come together.
“Walls come down as soon as you crash through that threshold of the convention center,” she said.
While they attend conventions outside of Union County, they said it would be a great thing to have more local conventions of gatherings centered around cosplay. Patterson said the idea of simply being able to “hop into my car and go” to a convention is a great feeling because of how less expensive it would be to travel to, as well as saving time and stress from packing and planning.
“I would love to try and get involved with local events and cons,” Patterson said. “I don’t feel like I have all of this potential, but I have all of these ideas to pitch.”
Monroe said she meets a lot of Union County and Central Ohio residents at conventions held in Columbus. Through this, she said she wants to see the inclusive and friendly atmosphere of cons brought to Union County, and Mini-Con in Marysville is a good stepping stone for that.
“(Mini-Con) is cool because it’s like this little window for normal, everyday people to see what a convention is like,” she said. “Definitely think it’s neat. Even though it’s a small one-day thing, we’re all still here and we want to do it.”
Yoakam said the cosplay scene in Union County is almost “non-existent,” and conventions like Mini-Con are helping to draw out area cosplayers. She said she does, however, want to see some more local events organized to promote the hobby.
“It’d be fun, even if it’s just a day or weekend hangout,” she said. “You’d meet people and it wouldn’t necessarily be the cliques you’re used to, but you’d also be in a park where you can do photos.”
With a city like Marysville, she said there are plenty of opportunities to get the community together. With a city that has many places to eat and hang out, she said a cosplay gathering or picnic would be something she’d like to see happen on a semi-regular basis and to help organize.

 



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