When asked “Who is your cosplay role model?” you’ll frequently find Yaya Han near the top of most cosplayers’ lists. I am no exception to this trend. This woman, proudly sporting the title of the “Cosplay Queen,” is not only highly talented in her creative skills, but has also turned her cosplaying into a business empire unlike any other cosplayer in the world.
Recently, Yaya Han did an interview with Playboy on her thoughts and experiences with cosplaying, touching specifically on the sexy side of cosplay and female cosplayers. After reading her responses to some of these tough questions, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give my reaction to her statements and why they’ve only solidified her top spot in my personal “Cosplay Idol” list.
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of her interview (where she discusses her views and experiences as a sexy female cosplayer) a number of questions offer insight into who cosplayers are, and what it truly means to cosplay. I couldn’t agree with her more when she suggests that cosplaying, whether crafting from scratch or buying pre-made, is a form of nerdom. It’s a great source of inspiration, and and opportunity to connect with a fictional world of your choosing. I think this is a great statement, and supports movements that encourage cosplay for everyone and being “cos-positive.” It’s all about having fun and displaying your fandom, not about your creative skills or appearance.
In this interview, she stresses that creating revealing cosplays isn’t about being sexy. It’s about replicating a character’s outfit or creating original designs that “tell a story.” It’s about female empowerment and confidence, and not at all about objectification. Coincidentally, some of the most badass and confident female characters tend to wear more revealing or form-fitting outfits. I can personally relate to this feeling with my recent cosplay as Quiet. Event though was by far the most revealing cosplay I’ve done, I’ve never felt more strong or ready to kick ass than I did in that particular cosplay.
One of the challenges of being a female cosplayer, she explains, is being young and afraid to speak out if you feel vulnerable, disrespected, or harassed. It’s not until you experience a safe environment that you understand what an appropriate cosplayer-to-fan interaction should be. You also have to build up a tough shell, while still being approachable. There can be a lot of cattiness and criticism in cosplay and it can be hard to let some remarks roll of your shoulders. The best thing you can do is stay positive and focused.
Lastly, one of the most important points she makes is that it’s nothing but a myth that women wearing sexy cosplays just to get attention. The reality is is that there are probably some ladies throwing on a “Slave Leia” costume because it looks hot, but for the most part cosplay should be considered an art, and an exercise in nerdiness and dedication. There is so much more to it than just wearing a costume. Whether you make it yourself or have it commissioned, cosplay demands skills in sewing, sculpting, painting, hair styling, make up artistry, modelling, acting, and possibly even some experience in sales, networking, and public speaking, especially if you decide to build your cosplaying into a marketable brand, like Yaya has done.
Yaya Han is a powerhouse in the world of cosplay. She has helped to pioneer and shape the industry, created many new business opportunities, and turned Yaya Han into a respected and recognized brand name. It’s no wonder she’s dubbed the “Queen of Cosplay.” I encourage you to go check out the interview in full on Playboy and let me know your thoughts on it. Do you agree with her on a lot of points? Do you wish she had addressed something? Let me know in the comments below!
J. Tanooki is a Contributor for aybonline.com. She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own.