IN HER OWN WORDS: TaLyn Kel
It all started with my mother. She loved dressing us up for Halloween. Some years we were able to choose our costumes from whatever was available in the store,but sometimes my mom would decide to create something from what we had in the house. One year my brother was a toilet paper mummy. Another year I was a table made from cardboard, an old sheet, plastic tableware that was glued to the sheet and hole in the middle cut out for my head as the centerpiece. The satisfaction I felt from that costume completely eclipsed any store-bought costume I’d ever gotten, and that includes when my brother and I dressed as the Six Million Dollar Man.
Now, as an adult, I dress up. I don’t know if it’s costuming or cosplay, and honestly I don’t care. I like collecting stuff(future hoarder in the making) and then figuring out how I can use it to make a costume. I like learning new skills and figuring out how to incorporate them. I make things out of duct tape and cardboard then color them with sharpies and I love it. I can’t sew and don’t know if I will ever learn how, but I will happily piece some scraps together, cover it in duct tape and call it a mask.Perfection is great, but I don’t need my costumes to be perfect. I need them to be fun.
I am an overweight, female person of color; as such, I am very aware of the issues around gender, race and size when it comes to costuming/cosplay at conventions. I’ve had to ask myself on more than one occasion if it’s worth the hassle. The landscape has changed drastically, from the cost and skill level of costume development to the issues surrounding the rights of photographers and their subjects. There are issues around body shaming, being canon, geek legitimacy, marketing…it’s a beast.
I’ve had to revisit my feelings about this repeatedly and for me it all comes back to the fun of MacGyver-esque creating. And dammit, I want to wear what I make. It makes me ridiculously happy when I decide to create something, figure out how to make it happen and then do it.It’s also pretty cool when I hit the mark closely enough for people to recognize what I was going for. It makes me happy and I’ll keep doing it as long as it makes me happy.