"The True Sign of Intelligence is not Knowledge, It's Imagination"
- Albert Einstein
When we think of imagination and creativity, we usually think of art and artists. We might think of others as being imaginative when they create a new system, invent a new object, but perhaps the greatest creators are those with a foot in the realm of childhood.
Never was there a more imaginative time for us than when we were allowed to change ourselves into something 'other'. There was a time when we were allowed, indulged and encouraged to try on the clothes and pretend to be.... a fireman... a detective... a teacher.... a superhero. There was a time in our lives when becoming a cat, dog or even a pony was tolerated, within bounds of course. (barking in a bank never ends well!) And if we are privileged to have children in our lives now, we see there is no one more brilliant than a child at play.
But as we grow and age, these opportunities to explore 'SELF' dwindle.
The occasional Fancy Dress party gives an excuse to don the mask of the masquerade. Halloween can be counted on once a year to give us the cover of night and the chance to be that which we most desire, or fear, or wish.
There's much talk about professional branding and even personal branding, but what does that even mean? A better wardrobe? A better profile picture?
The idea is that we will find the key to expressing our best possible professional/personable self and portray that image to those we come in contact with. The act of Cosplay perhaps gives us that opportunity to explore this very idea in a unique way.
There exists the idea that Cosplay came about in Japan through Manga and Anime fans and then eventually invaded the more impressionable population in the US and elsewhere. Yet the truth is, this oddness of exploration has its origins is in America. Though costuming itself is not uniquely American in practice, the first noted instance of Cosplay was the 1939 appearance of sci-fi stars dressed in character at the World Con in New York and resulted in an annual masquerade ball, allowing the opportunity.
It wasn't until 1984 when Japanese magazine writer, Takahashi Nobuyuki attended the LA World Con and witnessed the costuming of participants and attendees. As the story has it, much impressed with the level of creativity and fun, he wrote about the experience, using the term Kosupure (a blending of the Japanese words for Costume and Play) and encouraged his readers to expand the practice in their communities.
As with most human constructs, the practice and communities have grown to a point of specialization of sorts, identified by genres that reflect the basic focus. Chances are you know of a historical re-enactment in your community. They might not think of themselves as LARPer's (live action role player) but those battles lie within the genre as well. My point is that we all have probably participated in the fun at one time or another, even if on a very limited scale.
Today I'm inviting you to look through a different view.
If you're in the South Florida area this weekend, come on down to the RAIL, Steampunk Under the Sea event at Gold Coast Railroad Museum. You can step back in time to Victorian period and explore who you would have been if you didn't have an electric bill to pay, or you can step forward into Solarpunk and dream what might yet be.
You can join me in the panel discussion 'Cosplay Conversations: Wellness, not Weirdness' where we will explore how the creation of these aspects of 'self' promote wellness, self-acceptance, and exploration in healthy ways. We'll talk about the support these communities offer to individuals and the benefits to skill building, problem-solving and resilience.
Anyone who's ever fought with a costume and lost only to try again tomorrow understands how character building that is..... pun intended!
We'll be adding to the fun. Auspicious Fish will also be hosting The Tidy Tidal Tea Duel during the day. For those not familiar with the game, I'd tell you more but I'd rather encourage your sense of playful exploration.
Do you find it surprising behavior for a wellness professional? Well maybe, but the best coach is one who will help you envision what could be, What a Best Possible Self would look like for you. A self that reflects your values and strength. Then we work with our clients to help you choose the goals that will get you there and support you in finding the solutions to overcome the challenges on the way. Taking a step into the occasional unusual is a healthy means of exploring that self as we did when we were children and can help us remember that which is magical about ourselves.
Those feelings of strength and confidence are still in there, and if you need help finding them, we're is just a call or click away.
Interested in a unique view? For Further Reading try,
Lotecki, Ashley, "Cosplay Culture: The Development of Interactive and Living Art through Play" (2012). Theses and dissertations. Paper