The Con Virgin Diaries: Panic Stations and Why Luggage Should Be Bigger on the Inside

And so August rolled around and I got ready to leave for Chicago. Naturally, this inspired a last minute bout of panic. Clearly, Erin is the more sensible of the two of us. But I’m sure you’ve figured that one out already.



I’m packing for Chicago Comic Con tonight. And by tonight I actually mean this morning, given that it’s nearly 2AM. Against my better judgement, I’m jumping straight into the deep end and trying my hand at cosplay. It all sounds fun in theory, doesn’t it? You get your idea and you have this vision of what it will look like. You buy the pieces. You make more pieces. You put your heart and soul into designing this thing and thinking it will just be the coolest thing you’ve ever done. And then the day comes when you’re ready to rock your cosplay and you look in the mirror and just think,


I had two ideas in mind, figuring for two full days of convention. Day one, I would be Femme!Fourth Doctor, and then the next day I would be Femme!Brigadier. Yes, I’m rocking my Classic Who cred (with a twist obviously, just because I felt like it, I found some cute argyle tights I needed an excuse to wear, and I didn’t feel like wearing a mustache). Mind you, now that I’ve tried the kit on and everything (sans scarf for the moment because it’s still being completed before it joins me in Chicago–thank you, Erin!), I’m having second thoughts. So many that I’ve got at least another three simpler costumes in mind just in case I chicken out or have a catastrophe with one. I figure the Dark Eyes Eighth Doctor costume looks easy (and sane) enough. And modern day Clara Oswald is always a good look as well, so into the case it goes (two different versions, actually).

Now, I want to be clear for the reasoning behind this thought process. It’s not that I think cosplayers are crazy or that I’m worried about it being weird or anything. It’s not weird. I adore cosplay. I’ve literally spent years admiring the effort and talent that others put into it. So many of the creations are just so stunning that they leave me lost for words. And, as someone who, as a child, did a lot of theater and actually counted down the days to Halloween every single year (not that ever do that anymore, shut up.), I appreciate the opportunity to put on a costume and go out to have fun in it.

But the thing is, to me at least, that takes a lot of confidence. Which is something I find myself lacking now that I’m about to go and do it. I feel like it’s not just dressing up to have fun now. I feel like a majority of the people who go to these conventions take it so seriouslythat whatever I put forth as my current best effort won’t be good enough. Or because I look a certain way, I can’t pull it off. No, I have to admit, I am not built like Jenna Coleman. Wish I were, but I’m not. I am a bit taller though, so I guess that’s something.

There’s nothing wrong with curves. There’s nothing wrong with being whatever shape you are. There’s nothing wrong with whatever shape I am. I’m not body shaming. I love that our culture, to a certain extent, has become so much more aware of what body shaming is and what it means and what it does to people. That’s fantastic. And, no, you don’t have to look a certain way to cosplay. I’m not saying that either.

What am I saying? To be honest, I have no idea. Mostly just that when I put on my argyle tights and my oxford shoes and my enormous scarf on Saturday, I want to feel a certain way and I’m worried I won’t. It’s like when you’re a kid and when your birthday or a holiday rolled around, you felt a certain way. And then one day, as you got older, that feeling you had on that special day started to fade and now your birthday doesn’t feel different from any other day (Maybe that’s just me. Maybe it still feels special to you. I hope it does.)*But when I put on my UNIT uniform earlier, I thought I would feel…I don’t know…

Empowered? Awesome? Excited?

And I didn’t. All I saw were the things that weren’t quite right with it. I haven’t finished my UNIT patch yet and I don’t know if I will. The jacket I have should have embroidered rank pips and not the brass ones. My boots should be black and not brown. My beret doesn’t fit right and to be honest, I hate wearing the damn thing. And I don’t have the technically correct shirt (and tie) to wear under it because I wanted to be comfortable and so will be sporting a boring olive drab t-shirt. I will feel self-conscious about these things, yes. But will anyone else? Sure, there will inevitably be at least one person who will notice and think, Yeah…no. More than that though, will probably be people thinking, And you’re supposed to be what, exactly? And that’s fine. I know what I’m supposed to be, just like I know all the things that are missing or just wrong with my Brig cosplay. My Eighth Doctor jacket is wrong too. And my Clara boots won’t be right either. Does any of it matter to anyone other than myself?

I’ve never been to a convention before. Everything I know about them has been second (or third) hand information. I have literally no idea what to actually expect other than a massive room full of people wandering about looking at displays and shopping and endlessly queueing for things. I know there will be cosplayers there because I’ve seen them in photos of years past. I know there will be other people there who have no idea what they’re doing. Thankfully, my best friend (who is also a con virgin) will be there with me and we can muddle through together–she will be appearing as the Seventh Doctor. So, at least we’ll have each other. I’m anxious to see how this all works. To learn about this phenomena I’ve been aware of for most of my life but never participated in, and hopefully have some fun along the way. Maybe even gain a little confidence.

Haha, confidence. Get it? Sorry.

Anyway, I literally started writing this as a stalling tactic to avoid packing. Better get on that now since I have to leave in about seven hours and I haven’t slept yet. Time to pack, rest, and then jump straight into the deep end. Geronimo.

I think I’ll take some Doctor Who t-shirts just to be safe.

*In all fairness, I should also point out that I also had the same “meh” reaction when I put on my wedding dress. Not because of the way I looked or anything, just because I didn’t feel the way I thought I would. I’m not saying that to come over all Eeyore-ish either. I find it funny. Always contrary, me!

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