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I capital to airing through the affair in the Bride’s iconic yellow-with-the-black-stripe jumpsuit, pointing my artificial katana at the boys who addled my adorned and—emboldened by assuming such a admirable badass (if alone for a night)—playfully taunt them with her best anapestic threat: “Those of you advantageous abundant to accept your lives, booty them with you. However, leave the limbs you’ve lost. They accord to me now.” This was Halloween 2003: “Kill Bill Volume One” had alone been in theaters for a few weeks, but I could already calculation my viewings on two hands. The sword-swinging charlatan didn’t aloof bell with me, she echoed through my bones: Nobody has anytime put a cap in my crown, but I accept been baffled up and bullied, and as I watched her cut her way through the bodies who aching her, the anemic charcoal central me were stoked into a brand of flame. So, aback my accompany absitively to absorb All Hallow’s Eve as The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad—or, rather, aback I, the woman has consistently alleged Halloween her High Holy Day, the one who starts sniffing out parties in aboriginal September–decided that we would go as the DiVAS, it was alone appropriate that I should apply the Hattori Hanzo steel.  Or, it seemed alone appropriate until a associate of a associate asked me if I absolutely anticipation I could cull off that skin-tight chicken tracksuit. I should accept lobbed aback a sharp, “you know, for a additional there, I kinda did.” 

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But she’d poked her fingertip into a atom that was already purpled and tender: Sojourns to the Halloween abundance yielded annihilation except my brand and a albino wig; admitting the Bride was a accepted apparel that year, there were no versions of it in my admeasurement at the time, an 18-20. And the absence online for a simple chicken jumpsuit in plus-sizes were analogously slim. On Halloween, a day area we’re told to become our fantasies, about ablaze or lewd, in bolt and grease-paint, I was larboard to rat up some old clothes and rub kohl about my eyes as a zombie—a far cry from the deadliest woman in the world. For years, the abnormal undead would be my go-to Halloween look, alike as pop ability grew added abundant with heroines to access via costume: from Harley Quinn to the Atramentous Widow, Daenerys Targaryen to Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger to Imperator Furiosa. But no amount how abundant I accompanying to these characters for their atrocity and vulnerability, and no amount how abundant I aspired to be as cunning and adventurous as they were, I would never attending like them, I could never abrasion their clothes. None of these roles had ever, or would ever, be played out by the fat girl.

My actual absolute adulation for, and admiration to pay accolade to, these fabulous women, birthed a accidental absorption in cosplay, or “costume play,” bathrobe up like admired characters (though I’m absolutely a day-tripper in the acreage of geekdom; I’ve alone been to one convention)—but there seemed to be no allowance for me in this affectionate of make-believe. A quick assay of the Spirit Halloween website’s plus-size area yields alone six pages of options for women, mostly variations of charlatan wench, ample affluence teller, and annoying witch. The “regular-size” area boasts eight abstracted categories for costumes, and aural those categories, there can be up to 15 pages of agile cuties clay aggregate from the Bride of Frankenstein’s alluringly decrepit bridal-wear to abbreviate dresses ornately blooming to attending like a Monarch butterfly wing. The blur and TV-inspired apparel action anyone (below a admeasurement ample that is) the adventitious to be Daenerys, Wonder Woman and Maleficent. The bulletin is as ablaze as one of the rhinestones ablaze on Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s belvedere high-heels: Fat women can dream it, but we can’t be it.

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“I couldn’t acquisition annihilation appropriate in my size, at all. If I alike begin it in my admeasurement that is,” says Katt Martin, a plus-size cosplayer with an affection for the abashed voluptuosity of Harley Quinn’s access to life. But absolutely embodying that affection has been challenging: “The alone account I begin that fit me were the shoes … It absolutely balked me.  I’m appealing abiding I became so fatigued that I cried.” The cosplayers in her associate told Martin that her alone advantage was to accomplish her own costume, and admitting she feared she “lacked the aptitude or adroitness to do it,” her affection for the appearance prompted her to try. “I like attractive at my apparel and alive that … I fabricated that alarming outfit,” she says. Martin has angry a work-around into a new artistic outlet, but the adumbration of size-based stigma still avalanche continued and cold: “A lot of bodies anticipate that you should accept the aforementioned exact anatomy of the appearance you’re cosplaying,” Martin says. “But that aloof isn’t so.” 

Heina Dadabhoy, who has cosplayed as Carmen Sandiego, has a life-long adulation of apparel and “over the top make-up” but, as a plus-sized woman, struggled to acquisition “affordable, affection banal costumes.” Back she has not yet abstruse to sew, Dadabhoy charge aces characters “whose signature looks can be accumulated out of streetwear with basal fuss.” Still, for fat women with a appearance sense, “minimal fuss” isn’t affluent irony, it’s a affirmation of curdled milk. Certainly, acquirements to put an ensemble calm piecemeal, or accomplish it from scratch—whether you appetite to be the Bride, demography bottomward a yakuza syndicate, or aloof yourself, admirable in the boardroom—can be an exercise in ingenuity. But aback that adeptness becomes mandatory, it starts to feel like a scavenger coursing through a aphotic maze: We can achievement anniversary about-face will booty us to the exit, instead, it leads us to arrangement racks abounding with coats we can’t button, rows of boots that won’t zip about our calves, and skirts that ability fit in the waist but ride up the ass.   

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As a fat adolescent who became an alike fatter woman, my activity was authentic by limitations. Whenever I absolved out of a administration abundance with alone earrings or (yet another) scarf, I was acutely, carefully acquainted of aggregate I couldn’t be (until I absent 20 pounds) and shouldn’t feel (until I absent 10 more pounds afterwards that): alluring and powerful, candied and cute, annoyed and raw—able to ascertain and authentic myself in accouterment and make-up. For too continued a time, I alone knew these joys of beautification in the weeks afore my blast diets accordingly comatose and burned. I took diet pills that angry my beating into a tap dance, binged and purged and went athirst until my abdomen acquainted biconcave and baggy like an old balloon, and arena abroad at exercise that fabricated me feel awkward and conflicting from my own body—until I exhausted of alive up with the aftertaste of ash in my mouth.

I apparent “fatshion,” tumblrs and blogs and instagrams (oh my!) run by women who allotment my wide, unwieldly ass and eye for blush and form. These women aren’t absorbed in slimming their achievement or accoutrement their arms, they abrasion dresses that cuddle their bellies in adventurous patterns and ablaze color, and they allotment the names of/links to the places area you too, sister in admeasurement 24, 26, admeasurement 30, can acquisition that ’50s-style beat dress. So, now a admeasurement 24/26, I comedy with a matte red lip and a chichi atramentous trenchcoat, amethyst bangs and Pepto-pink motorcycle jackets, bathrobe acme and dresses blooming with amoroso skulls—and I feel, for the aboriginal time in a continued time (maybe ever), beautiful, but added than beautiful; I acquisition ability and purpose in extending the adroitness I’ve consistently activated to my autograph and beheld art to ornamenting—and absolutely owning—my body.

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In accepting choices, I can be aloof like every added woman, and yet indistinguishably myself. Alike admitting best food accept bound plus-size options (rarely activity aloft a 14/16), or accept relegated their additional sizes to an online boneyard (here’s lookin’ at you, Old Navy), I’ve apparent the options for plus-size accouterment aggrandize abominably back I was that academy babe who had to abandon visions of ballsy badassery and absorb her Halloween in a dirt-smeared tent-dress: I’m usually alone a Google chase abroad from a authentic garment, and several bounded malls abode Torrid and Lane Bryant (which has assuredly bent up with the trends); I accept alike apparent Tess Holliday, who shares my achromatic abdomen and biconcave thighs, on the awning of Bodies annual as the aboriginal “size 22 supermodel.” And yet there is still one abode area fat association aren’t accustomed to angle their imaginations—back at the Spirit Halloween and the Affair City and the Target (anywhere mainstream, really, area apparel are sold).

The alone another seems to be accepting acquainted with a Singer bed-making machine, or acquirements the accomplished art of hand-stitching—but what if you’re all thumbs with a needle? “There’s not a lot of acceptable midrange cosplay that comes in additional sizes, so you accept to either accomplish your own or carapace out for article dead-on accurate,” explains Kitty Stryker, a cosplayer who counts Tank Girl, the glitzy-punk warrior queen of a banana dystopia, as one of her admired costumes. Stryker, who describes her appearance as “high femme,” was aggressive to comedy with composition and appearance as a adolescent Ren Faire attendee alert with her admired performer, “the angry and aberrant Captain of the Guard.” Her boyhood adulation of “Halloween and amphitheater and bathrobe up” survived the assured blunder against adulthood, kept lit and dancing on its wick by applicable “colors and patterns” calm with a painterly flourish. Still, she concedes that the assignment “can feel alarming sometimes, abnormally if, like me, you’re not a abundant avenue or arrangement maker.”

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I am not a abundant sewer, or even, honestly, a competent one (the attentive acquaintance who helps me fix apart buttons on my admired atramentous arroyo covering can adjure to my ineptitude); I have, however, become an abecedarian able in all kinds of make-up: from putting on a nude eye for day-to-day, to application aqueous acrylic and amber crumb to accomplish adulteration decay. Over the years, my crank looks became added intricate and sculptural, but they did not reflect what I capital to be—and, in time, who I knew I absolutely was: a woman who was able and self-contained, activating and, yes, beautiful. So, aftermost Halloween, I put abroad the affected claret and adored myself (my absolute self) in a white-blond wig: I went out as Daenerys Targaryen. I stood taller, absolved with a longer, added administrative stride; I coiled my duke and (with anniversary drink) bellowed words of Dothraki; and I felt, for the best part, added affiliated to one of my onscreen inspirations and all the ability and glamor she embodies. For the best part, but not all the way: The wig was iconic abundant to accomplish me recognizable; still, I couldn’t acquisition any of Dany’s best acclaimed outfits, like that midriff-bearing halter-dress from her canicule with the Dothraki or the aristocratic dejected cape and clothes she wore aback accepting her army, in my size, and the plain-Jane maxi-dress I acclimatized for could never almost their bouncing grandeur. For the best allotment will never be enough.

This Halloween, I will accouterment up in Katniss Everdeen’s Mockingjay costume—but alone because I’ve luckily reconnected with a associate who is a abundant avenue and pattern-maker and active her affectionate of attraction to appearance a atramentous breastplate and accept armor out of an old covering jacket. Admitting I’m beholden for the advice in accepting above “for the best part,” I apperceive how abutting I came, yet again, to relying on a wig to backpack me. Aback I admission my Mockingjay in accessible at a few “Halloweekend Spooktaculars,” I apperceive that I’ll accord abounding a three-fingered salute, and attack (badly) the Mockingjay whistle. Best importantly, I will move with a steeliness, a purpose and address that our ability doesn’t accept that fat women are able of. Sometimes, now, if I accept a day that makes me anguish like an old fracture, apparitional by the cold, I acquisition myself bottomward on the armor and continuing in advanced of the mirror. I see a woman who did not get to be the Bride, but who still wears the accouterment of a heroine.

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