The hobby of cosplay has been around long enough that some cosplayers have grown up—from children, to teenagers, to full-fledged adults—dressing up as fictional characters all throughout. As adults, these veterans of cosplay often reflect fondly on the positive influence it has had on their lives. Of course, with adulthood comes children of their own to care for, and what better tradition to pass on to the next generation than their love of cosplay?
Brad, Zella and Lindze as Pokemon characters. Photo by Benny Lee
Lindze and Brad Merritt live in Atlanta, Georgia, and utilize cosplay as another fun family activity—much like going out to the movies or bowling—to spend fun and constructive time with their 7-year old daughter, Zella. Not only a mere hobby, Lindze attributes cosplay with helping her grow into the person she is today. “Cosplay has made me much more confident in life. Not just regarding appearance, but mostly about being proud of my talents and who I am.”
Dressing up as fictional characters also led her to develop her skills as a makeup artist, which she has turned into a career. Zella, too, has inherited the family’s penchant for dressing up. Lindze mentions, “I’ve been cosplaying since 1999, so Zella was doomed to cosplay since birth. I love cosplay because it’s a fun way to geek out with your friends and meet people with common interests while being creative. My daughter now loves it for the same reasons since we’re basically clones.”
Lindze and Zella as Annie and Tibbers from League of Legends. Photo by Tess
Zella’s first cosplay was as Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service when she was 2. When she turned 4, she teamed up with her mother to portray Ponyo and Granmamare from Studio Ghibli’s movie Ponyo at Momocon in Atlanta in 2012. Lindze remembers, “We had so much fun. She was all smiles, and loved being in front of the camera, showing people her bucket. It made me so happy to combine my favorite hobby with my favorite person.”
Zella as Scylla from Smite. Photo by Lindze Merritt
Cosplaying as a hobby opened up new avenues of friendship, creativity, and career choices for Lindze, and by sharing her love of cosplay with Zella, she wishes to pass on that same life-changing experience. “I hope she learns the same creative drive that I have, where if you want to make something, you can, if you just work hard and set your mind to it.”
Lindze and Zella as Fiona and Cake from Adventure Time
Aimee and Mitch Steinberger are a couple from Los Angeles who have been cosplaying together since 2002, so it was only natural that when they gave birth to their twin girls in 2012, they would let them enjoy the family hobby as well. Aimee’s girls—Miss J and Miss R—cosplayed for the first time as a family at a Disneyland Halloween event when the twins were just a year old. Aimee donned buns to be Princess Leia, her husband Mitch was Han Solo, and the twins wore tiny Ewok costumes. Despite the girls fussing with their fuzzy Ewok hoods that they were not used to, the entire family had a great time, and got some adorable photos to boot.
Last year, the family leveled up their Jedi game and attended the Star Wars Celebration convention as Han, Leia and little Jedi padawans. The convention is a big draw for adults who loved Star Wars growing up, but also caters to those with little ones. Aimee recalls the special kid-friendly room the convention prepared was equipped with soft lightsabers for children to battle each other.
She remembers, “Even though Miss R is usually shy around people she doesn’t know, she got in there with her light saber, too, and had a great time.” Much like the twins, father Mitch is usually a little shy, but when cosplaying, “he becomes a huge ham and has a great time,” Aimee mentions.
Mitch, Aimee, Miss J, and Miss R as Prince Eric, Ariel and Little Mermaid twins from The Little Mermaid. Photo by Aimee Steinberger
Miss J and Miss R as Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon. Photo by Aimee Steinberger
For these families, cosplay isn’t merely a hobby, but has become a solid family tradition. And like any tried and true tradition, the Merritts and Steinbergers are carefully passing down their love and positive experiences of cosplay to the next generation. At Star Wars Celebration, Aimee looked at her children having so much fun interacting with other cosplayers and toying with the sets, and had a nostalgic moment. “I remember watching Star Wars with my parents and realizing that now I’m a parent sharing Star Wars with my children, too!”
Lindze and Zella as Rarity and Sweetie Belle from My Little Pony. Photo by Tess
For parents who want to pass their love of cosplaying to their children, the most important thing to remember, Lindze advises, is to “never, ever take it too seriously! Its cosplay!”
Do you cosplay with your family? Let’s hear about it in the comments!
Featured Image by Aimee Steinberger