The Mighty Logo

5 Tips for Cosplaying With a Chronic Illness or Disability

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I have been cosplaying Steampunk and Renaissance for over 10 years, and it’s taken me years to figure out the best ways to still cosplay with my disability. I love to cosplay, but I also have a chronic illness and a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries that make it hard to cosplay sometimes. I have to be careful of the heat and sometimes have to limit how long I’m walking and standing. I have been known to pass out due to stress and over-exhaustion in the heat, so I always have to be mindful of my condition at conventions and when I’m cosplaying. When I put together my outfit, I try to keep in mind different aspects of my health so I don’t overexert myself.

Recently, I had open-heart surgery and it made it hard to wear my usual steampunk cosplay for an event. Corsets and open heart surgery don’t usually match. It was the first time in a year that I was able to cosplay, so I adapted my costume and went without the corset so I could still feel cute but I wasn’t going to hurt myself. Here are five tips to cosplay with a chronic illness or disability.

1) Dress in layers.

Finding a way to dress your cosplay in layers so you stay warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm is a great way to help feel comfortable throughout your day and prevent flare-ups. Take off accessories if you can. Convention season in California tends to be during the hotter months and I always get overheated. I always make sure to find a way to wear my costume in layers so I can take things off as it gets warmer.

Amelia's steampunk Mad Hatter costume.

2) Bring a backup costume.

Sometimes as the day goes on, it may be too cold or too warm to continue wearing what you planned. Maybe your costume is weighing too much and causing issues with your body. When this happens, it’s great to have a backup plan that is easier on your body. Keep this “backup plan” cosplay in your hotel room or car as a simple alternative.

Amelia wearing a simple black dress with steampunk corset.

3) Get a hotel room near the convention.

If possible, get a room in the same hotel where the convention is being held or near the convention center. This can help if you need to take breaks throughout the day and lets you make easy changes to your costume when needed.

4) Carry essentials in a small purse or bag.

When you’re going to a convention for the day and you don’t have easy access to your hotel, carry a small purse or bag. Think about where you can handle the weight on you for long periods of time. Can your shoulders handle a small backpack? Can your hips handle a satchel or a fanny pack? Find what looks right with your costume, but make sure you are comfortable first. I love to have a cute little fanny pack or satchel, since I have issues with my shoulders and the weight from a backpack hurts me after a while.

Amelia wearing a steampunk corset outfit.

5) Make your mobility device a part of your cosplay.

Find a way to make your mobility device tell a story with your costume. Is there someone you want to cosplay but they don’t have a disability? Maybe think about the vehicles they drive. Too much to add all that to your wheelchair or mobility device? Add matching colors that go with your cosplay. I love steampunk for this reason. I have seen many creative ways people have turned their wheelchairs and mobility aids into steampunk time machines. I’ve used my wood cane several times when I’ve had a limited mobility day and I love the way it goes with some of my steampunk attire.

Originally published: March 30, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home