Why I Cosplay as a Person With Autism

From a young age, I loved dressing up just like many other children, using my imagination and having fun. I never stopped, really. I have autism, and like many others on the spectrum, I have a lot of trouble with crowds and social situations. I heard of this thing called cosplay (costume play) as a young teen, but I thought, “I can’t do that.”

When I was around 18 years old, I started looking at costumes of my favorite characters from movies, games, TV shows and anime. At first, I never did a full costume — just contact lenses, a wig and a jacket, or the top half of an easy costume (mostly shirts). And makeup, which I have a passion for.

I started posting pictures of my costumes on Facebook, and I got good feedback from family and friends. So I made a cosplay page on Facebook. Not long after that, I bought my first full costume, which was a Japanese school girl as I love Japanese culture.

I was bigger back then, and my self-esteem was very low. I had people telling me I was “too fat” to cosplay and that I shouldn’t cosplay because I have a disability. At many stages, I wanted to quit, delete the page and stop cosplaying. But I did something that would change my life for the best.

I went to my first convention, a small one only two hours from where I lived, but it was good enough for me. I met some amazing people, but it wasn’t until I went to my second convention just over a month after my first one (again, only two hours away) that I met some of the most amazing, kind and loving people I have ever met. The day after the second convention, they invited me, my mother and my roommate Michael for breakfast. This was also the first time my mom met them.

After breakfast, my mom looked at me and said, “I have never seen you so happy before and socializing so much. This group of people is what real friends are. Keep them close.” Sadly, they live six hours away from me, but every year I get to see them. They are now family.

When I cosplay, I’m not Hayley. I am that character. I’ve talked on stage. I’ve gone into cosplay competitions. It brings me out of my shell, and every year my cosplay family gets bigger and bigger. They all know I have autism, but they see Hayley the person before they see a person on the spectrum.

My Facebook page now has almost 7,000 followers, and they all mean the world to me. Because of cosplay, I have done things I never thought I would. I’m now more than 60 kilograms lighter, but personally, plus-size or not, I will cosplay whoever I want, and I will rock that cosplay.

Image via Contributor.

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