Weekly Cosplay - Hey Jay is the Best Jeanist, Naturally

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Weekly Cosplay is a new series of weekly profiles focusing on diverse groups that make up the fandom community. These profiles will highlight cosplayers of all skill and experience levels and introduce a place to discuss inspiration and challenges from costume creation to embodying the characters we all know and love. Weekly Cosplay is open to all fandom characters, whether its anime, manga, video games, or American comics.

Every cosplayer has their own approach to embodying a character. Some strive realism, others accuracy no matter how gravity-defying, or some like Hey Jay Cosplay's Jay Sutton are open to reinterpretation to stay authentic to themselves. Jay takes characters from a variety of mediums, including anime and comic books, and inserts her own flair for style. She also eschews wigs in favor incorporating natural Black hairstyles. The combo is striking and shows how cosplayers of all stripes can use their natural assets to bring amazing characters to life.

Best Jeanist from My Hero Academia

"What attracts me to a character is a unique design or if I just really like their character! More often than not, I enjoy seeing how I can re-imagine some characters since I mainly incorporate natural hairstyles in my cosplays."

Sutton's debut cosplay was Sesshomaru from Inuyasha about four years ago. When she first started designing her costumes, she adhered even less to strict accuracy. Her favorite part of the craft though, is when a costume comes together.

"I love seeing the end result. For myself personally, I am overcoming my fear of putting myself out there especially on the internet. Every time I post something, it is a small internal victory for me because I am so critical of images. When people say that I inspire them, it is one of the best feelings."

Jay credits her Kakashi costume as one of her most accurate, but even when she adheres to a character's original design, her choice to incorporate her natural hair instead of wig can be met with hostility.

"It is challenging to put yourself out there on the internet – period. What makes it even more challenging is people going out of their way to say '_____ was not a black woman! _____'s hair was not curly, this is terrible!' An example is my Kakashi cosplay. That is probably one of the most accurate cosplays I have ever done, but it was still greeted with hate all the same just because I used my natural hair instead of an identical wig. You do not have to like everything that everyone does, but people who go out of their way to write hateful comments is frustrating."

Kakashi from Naruto

Jay said she is happinest when her cosplay is shared and when it can inspire others. Her message for aspiring cosplayers is to be true to themselves.

"Live your life for yourself, seriously. There is a lot of hate in the community, but there are people who show a lot of love. I love the people I have met because of this space. Black Cosplayers are present, and we are not going anywhere because we enjoy this space just like everybody else."

Gambit from The X-Men

Want to follow this week's cosplayer? You can find Hey Jay Cosplay on:

  • Gambit photography by Christopher A Matthews (Instagram)

  • This article has a follow-up: Weekly Cosplay - Alissa Sallah's Marina Cosplay is Off the Hook (2018-09-29 14:45)
    follow-up of Weekly Cosplay - Izzy Saeko's Kasumi from Dead or Alive Kicks Ass
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