Batgirl

 photo DSC_0080_zpsuiqgmorx.jpgBatgirl has been a strong female I have admired since childhood. So of course this is a costume that I had to eventually do! This was before I learned how to work with spandex so the suit was actually from Think Geek several years ago. I had a gift card for my birthday so why not use it. It originally came as a zenti suit meaning it had a hood and gloves. This had to be changed right away for several reasons. First, as a diabetic I have to be able to check my blood sugar at a moments notice. So I cut off the finger tips and modified gloved to have the fins on the sides s. Second the originally cowl doesn’t stay in place when you sit down. That had to go quickly and modifying the suit want that easy since the zipper went all the way up the cowl too. But I made it work!!!

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As with all body suits I wear I had to cut a hole in the suit for my insulin pumps tubing so that I could wear this at the same time. Here is a link to another blog about cosplaying s a diabetic. This is one reason I wear a corset with this costume. The other reason is my cape hangs from the shoulder straps of the corset. I am very pleased with this cape! I made the pattern myself and worked very hard to make it two sided. I love the look of black and yellow!  I had to make the base tape myself so it took forever to get this part of the costume done but the time and effort was worth it.

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The cowl is made by Texas Batman. He was amazing to work with! He ran into an issue and wasn’t able to get my cowl out as originally discussed but he communicated everything so perfectly that it didn’t matter to me. Sadly, I didn’t keep in contact with him so I am not sure if he still sells these or not.

If you are looking into a costume like this, meaning using a cowl and need a wig, I would recommend looking into a half wig. The wig under the cowl makes it extra tight and hard to get on and off. Because of this I do tend to get headaches quickly in this cowl, but this is something common with cowls from conversations with other cosplayers.

As much as I love this costume I don’t get to wear it too often. The cowl makes convention sounds echo a lot so I get a headache pretty quickly.

All photos by Keyaroscuro

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

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Scarlet Witch (X-Men Comics and Cartoon)

 photo img_8822edit6_zpsblgj2rey.jpgScarlet Witch is a fairly simple costume. Most of it has been purchased and pieced together. I bought a body suit to wear at charity events because the corset really makes cleavage galore in this costumes. This is something I try to keep in mind with my costumes. Especially when I was heavily involved in CAUSEplay in Utah, a very conservative community. I also bought pink leggings to use this costume at cons.

SIDE NOTE: Personally I don’t care if you want to wear a costume that emphasis your form or is revealing. Just keep in mind where you are going and ask yourself if it is appropriate. This goes for scary or bloody costumes too.

I bought booty shorts for this costume for several reasons. One, it is more flattering for my form. I see nothing wrong with modifying a characters design to flatter your own body more. And two, as mentioned in a previous blog this holds up my insulin pumps weight better than swimsuit still bottoms I have tried in the past.

 photo img_8729edit_zpspfeekle0.jpgI wish I made the headpiece but I have to give credit to Mandy’s Masks. I found her on etsy.com but she doesn’t seem to have her shop anymore since I can’t find a link. I also purchased my Ms Marvel mask from her. Now as a cosplayer I have the confidence to make these types of things myself but when I started I was intimidated.

I did make the cloak myself. I used a pattern for the long part of the cloak and modified the top. Basically I folded a rectangular piece of fabric in half so that as it draped the same side of the fabric showed. Then made it into a circle large enough to go over my head and drape the way I wanted. If you do this method I recommend starting out with a longer piece of fabric and trim as you size it to your specifications. Remember, you can always remove you can never add. 😉

I love the boots I chose for this costume! As usual I spent a long time looking for the right pair of boots. These are really comfortable too. Since this was for charity I went with flat shoes for safety and comfort.

 photo img_8812ball_zpsethph2ku.jpgA good memory of this costumes? Oh, there are a few. But my all time favorite cosplay moment was in this costume. As mentioned above I have an insulin pump. In this costume I wear it attached to the back of my shorts so it isn’t noticeable in pictures. The cape does nice in hiding it. This happened at a charity event which made it even better. She noticed my pump and got so excited that someone else had one too! We had a very nice conversation about super heroes and being diabetic. I hope she remembers that moment for a long time and remembers that she isn’t alone in her situation. The other thing I hope she grows up knowing is that being diabetic and having an insulin pump shouldn’t keep you from dreams and passions. I use to let is hold me back and it took years to gain the confidence to use this advice myself.

I have really enjoyed this costume and have gotten a lot of use out of it!

All photo credits to Snap it Photography 

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Chronic Cosplay: Being Diabetic and Cosplay

I have started following various cosplayers who live with “disabilities” and chronic conditions. Because of them I feel like it is okay to share  my experiences and maybe pointers to other diabetics who cosplay.  The other reason I decided to write this is I am preparing for Emerald City Comic Con making costumes and preparing to stay away from home for a few days. This is the first big con I have been to in some time and it is bringing back memories of past cons and issues I have experienced at them regarding my diabetes.

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Here is a photo where you can see the infusion set to my pump. I don’t often get to share this photo and I love it!  This poor kid didn’t want anything to do with us DC babes so of course we had to torture him. Parent approved of course, that is dad in the back ground and mother was around too!

Cosplaying as a diabetic has had its own set of challenges that many people may not realize or understand. Yes, it is something you live with day to day but there are factors that have to be taken into consideration when it come to cosplay. Especially if you use an insulin pump like I do to manage my blood sugar levels. In simple terms an insulin pump acts like the part of the pancreas that produces insulin. (If you want to know more about the insulin pump here is a link for more information).  If I go more than an hour, two at the most, my blood sugar gets dangerously high and makes me very sick. This means I can’t go without it in costume. Please keep in mind that the reactions without a pump vary from diabetic to diabetic. I am writing this from my perspective and experiences. For example, I know another diabetic cosplayer who uses an insulin pump and she has issues with her blood sugar if she wears her pump in certain places limiting the costumes and modification she can do.

Because of how I choose to manage my diabetes I have to design each costume in a way that I can wear and access my insulin pump; which can make accurate costumes impossible or impracticable depending on the character. So before you criticize some one for an inaccurate costume please take into consideration that maybe the cosplayer had to adjust the design for health purposes.

Some common modifications I have had to make:

  • For all my body suits I have to cut and reinforce a small whole (strategically placed that it can be hidden) to feed tubing through so my pump can deliver insulin as needed. When deciding where to put this hole I have to also keep in mind how I will secure the pump in place.
    • I have a Catwoman costume that I had to feed the tubing through the leg so my pump can be worn inside the boot. If a suit is used for other costumes this may not be a practical location.
    • My Scarlet Witch and Mystique I have a hole in the stomach of the body suit and wear booty shorts with it because these handle the weight better than swimsuit type bottoms. These two are convenient because most people don’t notice the pump with either the cape or the long skirt.
  • My Tw’lek Mandalorian Bounty Hunter suit was specifically chosen because it came with a Velcro patch I can feed the tubing safely through.
  • Depending on the activity level I plan on in my Raven I will sometimes wear booty shorts over for the same reason I wear them with Scarlet Witch or Mystique. If I am wearing this costume at a low impact event it is okay hooked to my belt so I can wear just the leotard but I do have to adjust it regularly. And it does come un-clipped easily if I move too much.
  • Wonder Woman and Psylocke I use nude colored leggings or body suits to cover my infusion set. This way it doesn’t get ripped out while I am out and about.
  • I fell lucky with my Batgirl. I had to cut a whole in the suit but was able to hid this with a corset that also holds my cape in place. The major win was the functional pouches of the belt that allow me to access my pump!
  • For Steampunk I attach my insulin pump to a garter but I have to consider where I am going to be and will I be able to get to it in public or will I have to go into a private area to give myself insulin. Another place I can secure my pump in steampunk garb is in a boot
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The nude colored layer for this costume is actually a two piece thermal since it is winter. Which is a great way to feed tubing. It protects the infusion set and I can hook my pump to the shorts as you see here.

You might be thinking, Mala when you are in something that isn’t a body suit why don’t you just put it in your bra. I use to do this all the time until one hot fall day while wearing Steampunk Snow White my insulin pump died on me because of too much sweat moisture getting into the machine. That is never a good situation because then I have to call the manufacture to trouble shoot and determine if I qualify for a replacement, then I have to call my doctor for an alternative prescription for long lasting insulin to manage until the replacement is over nighted because I the last vial expired, then I have to get to the pharmacy to collect the insulin, and inject it before I get sick. Now imagine if this happened during an out of town con. At least I was close to home when it happened this time, it could have been worse. For those of you reading this who use a Medtronic insulin pump the manufacture recommends placing the pump in a sock if you must wear it in your bra and to carry extra socks to change out in case there is too much moisture. This is now what I do if I have to wear my pump in my bra on any given day. Cosplay or not. If you use another brand I recommend you check with the manufacture of your pump regarding this so you don’t risk voiding the warranty for inappropriate use or something like that.

Not only do I have to design costumes around my pump but days before the convention or event I have to make sure that the infusion set is placed on my body so that the tubing will reach both the site where the insulin is delivered and the location on my costume where my pump will be held or hidden. I also have to keep in mind how much insulin is in my pump so I make sure to have enough insulin and cartridges to refill the machine while I am at cons. I also plan on back ups in case something were to happen.

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Notice me sporting my insulin pump attached to the sash. This is a day I had to strategically place my infusion set for a costume.

When it comes to conventions I always have to have emergency supplies on hand. These include some form of sugar for low blood sugar, extra infusion sets in case my costume rips this out (without an infusion set my body does not get the necessary insulin and this has happened several time. Oddly enough while in steampunk, I blame the layers of steamie awesome!), glucometer, extra test strips, and cash in case I misplace my low blood sugar snack or end up using everything. This has happened to me before on a really bad day. To carry all of this I use a back pack. I love costumes with capes because most people don’t even notice my mini back pack. I love steampunk for the pouches that can handle most of this and my Twi’lek Mando! Pockets in costumes are super exciting in my world!

Something people have commented about at cons is how I regularly eat three meals a day. Most people seem to not eat at cons, which I think is weird personally. If I don’t eat I tend to become h-angry (hungry anger) but I also become lethargic and loss my mental capacity. Especially if my blood sugar gets too low. Eating regularly is a good way to prevent this. In fact, I probably shouldn’t admit this in a public forum, at one con I was uncontrollably in tears I was so hungry and exhausted. All I wanted was food in my belly! The moment I ate I was perfectly fine! I thank my friends who still hang out with me at cons and understand that I can’t control when I get this way. Since then we have developed a code word that is used among the group even when I am not there.

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Sporting my Medtronic pump like a pro!

In order to help keep my blood sugar under control I have to stay hydrated. If I don’t keep this in my mind my blood sugar levels rise and stay high. Which means if I want to wear a costume for a long period of time I have to be able to use the rest room. This is one reason I am looking into upgrading my Twi’lek Mando to a two piece suit. It is one of the few costumes I cannot wear all day and one that is easy to get dehydrated in from the layers and the latex prosthetic. I have had heat exhaustion in this costume, not an experience I want to have again or recommend to anyone.

No matter what I do sometimes my insulin pump is visible and it use to bother me. Not going to lie. I always thought I had to keep it a secret that I was diabetic. Something I should be ashamed of. But one day that all changed. While at a charity even in cosplay a little girl who was also an insulin pump user saw my pump and got so excited to see a super hero wearing a pump. We talked about super heroes and that it is okay to have diabetes. That is shouldn’t keep you from your passions. I hope that I inspired her to embrace what makes her different and own it. There is nothing wrong with having a disability or a chronic condition. It is a part of who we are as individuals. Not something that defines us but makes us stand out as unique from everyone else.

The things that I have to deal with are not what every diabetic has to deal with. Some decided to go without their insulin pump while in costume. That is their adult decision to make but I choose to incorporate mine into my costumes. Other diabetics who cosplay have their own ways to manage their blood sugars or try to. Everyone is different, with different experiences. I hope that this inspires those who don’t feel like they can’t cosplay because of their insulin pump to do it if you want to! And I hope that it opens the eyes of other people to one type of chronic condition and what it means to pursue something one loves. If you really want to do some thing you can find a way!

If you are diabetic and need suggestions please feel free to reach out to me! I am more than happy to bounce ideas of modifications or what has worked for me in situations as a diabetic. You can email me at adventureswithmala@gmail.com or through Facebook.