How One Black Cosplayer is Using Custom Wigs to Make The Scene More Inclusive

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Some people consider themselves part of a fandom, but no group (outside the Beyhive, but I'm biased) does fandom better than cosplayers. Cosplaying is a form of performance art where fans dress up as their favorite characters from TV, movies, comics, anime, or video games. Both a noun and a verb, cosplay has become one of the internet's favorite forms of fandom expression, but for Becca, or as they'd preferred to be known, Seun Here, a New-York based cosplayer, the scene is a little lacking, specifically, in wig options for Black cosplayers with natural hair. They enjoyed cosplaying characters that weren't typically done by Black women, like Gaara from the anime Naruto. But the wig options they saw as they were browsing eBay were not ideal. They wanted wigs that were more like the texture of their natural hair, but also available in colors like pink or orange.

Seun Here as Gaara from Naruto, their personal favorite. "When I did that cosplay most people told me that they never saw nor could they ever imagine a Black person cosplaying as Gaara, much less a Black woman." Courtesy Seun Here.

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Seun Here has one motivation with their wig work, and that's to provide more options to Black cosplayers who may feel uncomfortable in wigs that don't match their natural hair texture. "It’s not as though Black cosplayers don’t exist — we’re just less likely to be featured on the major cosplay pages and sites," they say. "This exclusion can be damaging to young prospective cosplayers because when the only examples of great cosplays are being done by white people, prospective Black cosplayers may begin to feel as though the cosplay community isn’t a space for them. Even in terms of anime or comic conventions, the cosplay guests selected are typically non-Black."

That's unfortunate, but not surprising. The lack of representation, obviously, carries over into the wig selection. "I thought about creating my own wigs ever since I purchased my very first cosplay wig from eBay. The standard cosplay wigs sold now are typically too small, bone-straight, very shiny, and overall I felt as though [they don't] suit me as a Black woman," Here explains. "I wanted wigs that resembled the texture of my natural hair but were available in fun colors such as pink or orange. I knew at that moment in order for me to feel comfortable in my cosplay, I needed to have my hair done in a style that better suited what I wanted. So I thought, why not make my own?"

And so they did. Here purchases loose hair in their desired color, curls it in the texture they see for the character they have in mind, and then crochets those loose hairs onto a wig cap, which they then style. "Buying the loose hair gives me the opportunity to pick the exact color that best matches the character. I love having that freedom and flexibility." The hardest part is the length of time it takes to make each wig, considering the crochet process is not a quick one. The favorite wig they've made is their Shoto Todoroki, a red-and- white curly unit devoted to a character from manga/anime My Hero Academia.

Seun Here.

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If you're looking to getting into cosplay, but find yourself discouraged by the lack of options for Black characters, they've got advice for you. "Figure out exactly what it is that you want and tap into your creativity. Follow other Black cosplayers on social media and see what it is that they’re doing to make their cosplays one of a kind, and then build from there. It also doesn’t hurt to talk to someone in the community who has a bit more experience and expertise." Send an email or DM — it can never hurt.

"I hope to become a regular guest at conventions and work with brands to become a positive representation for Black people in the nerd community. Overall, I want to take the necessary steps toward creating a better space for Black people in the cosplay community."

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