Sunday, November 22, 2015

Brunette Eowyns and Human Heras: Thoughts on Cosplaying

Cosplaying is fun. I admit, I spent a good chunk of the last 5 years, saving pictures of really cool cosplays to my computer. I like dressing up, and I like stories. (Full disclaimer, despite spending hours of my life saving & researching cosplays, I have never actually been to a conference, or even a midnight showing, alas)

However, something I realized, sorting out the cosplays I particularly liked, is there are 2 things I value if I did cosplay--to look like the character, but also, to also be kind of like the character---if they were me. Sort of like capturing the "ethos" of the character, translated into the modern day me.

For example: An hours worth of make up on Princess Leia? Totally. Princesses have to keep up appearances. Princesses need to be careful how they dress, how they walk, how they look. So a princess would totally spend a lot of time on make up. Yes, Princess Leia is cool and independent. So that means she puts on her own makeup, and doesn't drag along a make-up assistant before battles. She's still a princess, you know.

So if I was pretending to be Princess Leia, then yes, I'd put on make up.

More than a minute's worth of makeup on Mara Jade? Think about it. Her idea of looking presentable when Luke was coming, was to wash her face in an icy creek when she hadn't had a shower in 2 weeks. (Specter of the Past). If Mara used make-up at all, she probably wouldn't put on any more than took 60 seconds....unless she was impersonating a duchess or something like in Allegiance. But most of her work seemed to be of the hijacking pirate ships and leaping over roof-struts to rescue hostages type of things.

I like this picture of her I found on the internet. Red gold hair on a blazingly idealistic 18 yr old.
So if I were pretending to be Mara, I wouldn't bother with make-up. (And whomever illustrated the cover of Choices of One should have thought about that triple-applied mascara....)

So for portraying an alien (like Hera Syndulla), a human girl wearing a realistic & weathered aviator suit feels much more "authentic" to me, than one wearing hours worth of make-up and prosthetics to look like a Twilek. (Because a Twilek wouldn't need prosthetics.)

That said, I think when I do get round to making Josh a Grand Admiral Uniform, we will go the whole 9 yards with the blue skin and red eyes and all, because Josh basically is Thrawn already. (minus the superhuman IQ. And Josh is a Christian. And a sort of imperialist libertarian. So not the totalitarian part either.) But when we do give Josh blue skin, we will do it authentically. So I will feed him colloidal silver, to turn his skin bluish-grey naturally.

That was a joke.
We will use make-up.

Ok, back to my pointless ramble....

When trying to be like Tolkien's characters, I feel like it somehow isn't really the ethos of the Elves of Middle Earth to be wearing lots of make-up or wigs.
To me, Tolkien's world is about the natural beauty of things, the grain of the wood, the rustle of leaves, the tangle of rocks and trees and stars, elven maidens clad in simple dresses, water bubbling over rocks from a mountain brook. (As much as I love the complicated velvet gowns of the movies, they don't seem to really match the people in the book). When cosplaying Lord of the Rings characters, I like it when cosplayers just showcase the beauty of their natural hair (even forgoing their "usual" modern hair products, straighteners, curling irons, etc) go light on the make-up, and leave the artificial wigs alone.
To me, a brunette Eowyn or a blonde Arwen is so much more "authentic" than one with a wig. And an Arwen or an Eowyn climbing a tree or making breakfast feels more "authentic" to me than one at a convention playing dress up (which I imagine would be very very fun, hanging out with like-minded people, and I would love to do some day. However, it's not capturing the "ethos" of the elves).

this cosplayer "Mela"dress made by "Gen", captures more of the "ethos" of the elves for me than any of the elves in the movies did with their make up artists and fake trees.

Same for medieval looks. I feel more medieval by trying to capture the ethos of it in my everyday clothing. For me, that means having Isaiah wearing a medieval tunic with his jeans as he climbs a tree, and wearing cotton tunics & belts with my modern day pants, as I play with the kids in the back yard, make dinner, and pray. Also while learning how to shoot. But we haven't got there yet....

-------A long ramble on the subject of hair, probably of interest to very few-------------------------------

I prefer dark haired Eowyns to Eowyns with yellow wigs. (Practically, because you have to drop a good bit of money into a blonde wig for it not to look fake.) But also, I don't think Middle Earthers wore wigs, at least, not the rough-and-tumble early-medieval-Saxon-esque people of Rohan, living in wattle & daub halls (maybe flax or hair extensions, but definitely not wigs. That would be Roman).

For Star Wars, their technology is obviously very advanced, so wigs definitely existed. Princess Leia would be following in a long line of royal tradition to be wearing hair extensions & hair rats/padding. (Also, hair extensions have been around for as long as women have been able to cut off and save their own braids.)

Cosplaying realistic red hair is an issue unto itself. Sadly, a good chunk of awesome women in fiction have red hair :(
Black Widow does obviously dye her hair all sorts of colors, so dyed red hair for her makes perfect sense. (But why she straightened it in Cap 2, when they were running for their lives and hiding at Falcon's house, no one knows. She probably used an actual iron though, because she's awesome like that.)
However, with Mara, I wouldn't use dye. Firstly, because for a dark brunette to pull of red-gold, it would take something far far beyond my skill (probably professional chemicals at a salon). Secondly, because Mara would never have bothered to dye her hair, even when it would have been practical for camouflage (When she gets caught flat footed by a bounty hunter in Dark Force Rising who recognizes her by her hair). She wears a hood, though (Choices of One),so I would be a brunette Mara with a hood. But if you have blonde hair, and can pull off natural-looking red-gold hair......


  1. best line. "To me, Tolkien's world is about the natural beauty of things, the grain of the wood, the rustle of leaves, the tangle of rocks and trees and stars, elven maidens clad in simple dresses, water bubbling over rocks from a mountain brook."

  2. *raises hand* Me! I am interested in this topic! I am very much in agreement re: the impracticality of PJ's elves' costumes for climbing up into trees! I love how regal and ethereal they look, but for the most part I just have to think to myself that it's just one person's interpretation of Tolkien's world.

    As for the wigs, I can't see having long, flowing hair being very practical for a shieldmaiden, which is part of the reason why I opted to just keep my short (black) natural hair when I cosplayed Eowyn.

    1. I'm glad at least 2 people in the world found this ramble interesting :)
      Btw your Eowyn cosplay inspired me so much! (and was part of the inspiration for this ramble) For me, you really captured the "essence" of the Eowyn look in your green dress. I think I am going to have to make a version of it one day :D

    2. Aww, that's so sweet of you to say!

      I really think Eowyn would have been all about using old sheets to make her dresses...way more practical than silk and velvet!

  3. This is just perfect! Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts about it. This is a topic that is so very close to my heart, being a deep lover of Tolkien's world, and also a lover of "dressing up". For every point you made I was just sitting her nodding my head in agreement.

    I've been a long time lurker here, reading your articles about everyday LOTR clothing, and loving what you share about "dressing up" yet being able to wear those clothes in your everyday life. I so completely agree, and I'm glad that there is someone else out there who likes to dress up like their favorite characters, even though you are "grown up".

    When you said that "Tolkien's world is about the natural beauty of things, the grain of the wood, the rustle of leaves, the tangle of rocks and trees and stars, elven maidens clad in simple dresses, water bubbling over rocks from a mountain brook." you hit the nail right on the head, in my opinion. Elves are as natural as the world is, and so when we depict them, I feel like we can and should embrace as much of our natural beauty as we can. :)

    Anyway, so sorry for gushing like this! I hope you don't think I'm too weird. :D

    1. Wow, I am so flattered I don't know what to say :)
      This year, I'm hoping to post on more Everyday LOTR clothing/stuff and how I incorporate it into life.
      I really appreciate your comment, it made my day :)