The Mental Health Benefits of Cosplay

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Meet Allison Niemiec, a first year graduate student in the Higher Education Administrative Track program, who wrote this article because cosplay has been a hobby of hers since high school and continues to be a great form of self-care. Allison writes: “I believe this article can help the Rowan University community by introducing students to a new self-care activity they may have never heard of before. I also hope my article reaches those who currently cosplay and might not have been consciously aware of the mental health benefits it brings.”

Allison Niemiec posing outside of Bunce Hall at Rowan University.Cosplay is the art or act of dressing up as a fictional character from content such as movies, video games, anime, comics and more. While most people consider cosplay only as an entertaining hobby, many researchers have found that it can offer several mental health benefits as well.

In order to cosplay, an individual can either create their own costume or purchase one online. Cosplay can become a self-care activity especially for those who choose to create their own costumes. Hand making costumes involves creative elements such as sketching the costume design, sewing and experimenting with makeup. By working on the costume, many cosplayers can earn a sense of motivation as they work towards finishing their designs.

Perhaps the most influential benefits of cosplay is that it can help an individual develop more self confidence and allow them to feel a sense of community. When one chooses to cosplay, they will most likely attend an event where they will be surrounded by other cosplayers or people with mutual interests.

A cosplayer named Leah Krumholz (2017), who considers herself an introvert, suggests that being in cosplay encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone and talk to others at the event. Many attendees Allison Niemiec posing outside at Rowan University's campus.were also able to recognize the character she was cosplaying as and would initiate conversation with her about the costume and her interests. By the end of the event Leah was able to feel more confident about talking to others and was able to make connections and feel a sense of community with the other attendees of the event (Krumholz, 2017).

Another benefit of cosplay is that by cosplaying specific characters, an individual may be able to cope with their own struggles (Weisberger, 2016). More specifically, if a character chosen has dealt with and overcome their own personal struggles and an individual is able to relate to that experience, they may become more motivated to work towards coping with their own experience. For example, characters such as Batman may become inspiring to cosplayers because he experienced the trauma of losing his parents at a young age, but is able to overcome this trauma to become an iconic superhero (Weisberger, 2016). 

Overall, the act of cosplay is an entertaining hobby that can be a self-care activity and provide many mental health benefits such as developing self confidence, creating a sense of community and allowing individuals to overcome personal struggles.

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Story by:
Allison Niemiec, first year graduate student in the Higher Education Administrative Track program

Photography by:
Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major

References

Krumholz, L. (2017, Nov 08). The culture of cosplay. University Wire Retrieved from 

http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1961500326?accountid=13605

O’Sullivan, C. (2018, Apr 04). Stimulating creative instincts through cosplaying. Carmarthen 

Journal Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/2021235876?accountid=13605

Weisberger, M. (2016, October 26). Getting in Character: The Psychology Behind Cosplay. 

Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/56641-why-people-cosplay.html

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