By Larissa Copeland
For Yukon’s Haelle Scott, stepping into the shoes of fictional characters – literally – is a chance to be outgoing, confident and comfortable.
For a little over a year, Scott, 17, has been active in the cosplay community, dressing up as characters from movies, books, video games, pop culture or other media and attending conventions with like-minded fans.
And, Scott says, the fact that she pieces the costumes together on her own makes the entire experience better.
From a young age, Scott has appreciated costuming and the work that goes into it.
She’s been sewing “on and off for a couple years,” she said.
While she learned to use a sewing machine at school, her mother taught her how to hand sew, and she combines the two.
“But I prefer hand-sewing, because I feel more in-touch with what I’m making,” she said.
So when a friend introduced her to a popular web comic, that love of costuming came back to the forefront. Scott started looking into the different ways people have dressed to represent their favorite characters.
And she chose a character to portray at the 2016 Wizard World Comic Con in Tulsa.
“I really relate to the character, when it comes to (things like) taking care of friends and baking,” Scott said. “I was anxious and excited since that one was my first convention.”
But unlike the convention itself, Scott said she never worried about the cosplay.
“It’s really just an outlet for me, and I don’t think I could ever have bad feelings toward it, besides just being fed up with the fabric.”
The atmosphere, she said, was “amazing.”
“It was just so fun, and I got to talk to other cosplayers,” she said. “That’s where I met my best friend. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Conventions help banish her shyness, too, she said.
“I’m always so excited to be there. The atmosphere is so joyful,” she said. “When they’re over, I’m instantly ready to do it again. I don’t want to leave.”
When she’s choosing a character to design a costume for, she said she tends to look for characters she relates to.
While some fans gravitate toward main characters, Scott said she tends to connect with characters who don’t get as much time in the spotlight.
“They’re not as stereotypical,” she said. “They’re not the hero; they’re not the bad guy. But they have their own personalities that give them life and draw you toward them. They can be a lot more interesting than the main characters, basically.”
From there, it’s a question of simplicity and how warm she’ll be while wearing it. Normally, it takes her a day or two to assemble everything.
“A lot of the things I do, I’m self-taught,” she said, adding that she often watches online tutorials if she needs more guidance.
“I enjoy the learning method,” she said. “I like learning new things, and the experimentation of it.”
For the cosplays that need a wig, she said she styles them herself.
The experience, she said, has helped boost her confidence.
“It’s taught me to be confident and comfortable with myself,” she said. “I don’t have to be as shy as I’ve been before.”
In addition to cosplay, Scott enjoys working with her hands. Things like gardening, baking and knitting, she said, came easily to her.
“Anything I can actually get my hands on, and work with using my hands, I usually can excel at,” she said.
She writes, too, and has concepts for everything from books to television shows.
Despite having so many interests, she says she sees herself continuing to cosplay.
“I have specific cosplays picked out for when I’m an old lady,” she said, laughing.
Scott said she understands how a hobby like cosplaying could be seen as strange, but she encouraged anyone interested in it to give it a try.
“I know it’s scary to be judged by people, but it’s more hurtful for yourself to hide who you are,” she said.