While visiting Grape City Con this past weekend I was excited to attend a panel on how cosplay allows you to turn imagination into reality. There was a special focus on Zombies and Horror (of course being presented by the Zombie Club) and how being a zombie can be therapeutic. The panel even included a licensed therapist!
Often when we are kids we enjoy playing dress up, pretending to be something else and look forward to Halloween. But as we get older, society tells us to leave behind such notions as superheroes, capes and goblins. But does the longing ever really leave and how can we incorporate it into our adult lives? You are not alone!
Many people who cosplay or dress as characters have very real and professional lives. Costuming is about tapping into the creative part of the brain that allows you to be free and step out of your day to day life. Often people select characters that have traits they would like to have or admire such as super-strength, special abilities or impressive skills. In the case of zombies and horror we are allowed to embrace parts of the phsyche that are frightening or dangerous while still maintaining a safe and fun environment. All of this leads to thrills, chills and endorphins….also known as “having fun”.
During the panel we got to hear from several Zombies about why they enjoy cosplay. For some it is the ability to have a connection with all ages and family members. Sometimes 3 generations or more will all gather to do the same thing and have a blast doing it! How many things in this world allow you to do that? Some people suffer from shyness and social anxiety, but when they are embodying a character they are free from their own hang-ups and the mind allows you to do things you would not normally do.
Some people just want to scare or shock people…and typically onlookers are equally amused by these antics! One of zombies mentioned that she was tired and not feeling well but wanted to still join in the fun. The joy of being a zombie is when you feel “zombified” you can actually use it in your character and work with it rather than feel left out. This is the same creative notion that helps people with assistive technologies incorporate their deceives into costumes (like turning a wheelchair into an X-Wing) and allows them to use what they have to help transform them rather than feel separated from other members of society.
Imagination is a powerful tool and it helps our brains to process many things in healthy ways. Cosplayers do not actually believe they are the characters that they play, but when we embody a character we do get to reap all the benefits of stepping into that role. Whether that is making children smile dressed as Superman or scaring the living daylights out of unsuspecting passerby’s as a zombie clown. These all create stimulating and positive brainwaves, and that is why we do what we do…for the smiles and screams.
Check out the Zombie Club and all the awesome events they have for you to attend. Whether you are looking for a family friendly Zombie Walk, want to have a blast at a themed show such as the Zombie Train or want to attend a more “adult” party such as the Dead Hooker’s Ball, there is something for everyone and plenty of fake blood to go around 😉
All photos by Perry “Agent P” Louie