While some people may take up cosplaying as a hobby or to express their artistic side, others join the lifestyle as a way to regain their confidence, like artist and gamer Asta Young.
Standing at just 4’5″, Young, a 25-year-old cosplayer from Arizona, had a pretty rough experience growing up, as she was always made to feel different by people around her — particularly by her peers from school.
“I was picked on as a kid, I was always made fun of for being last in gym class because I can’t run so fast because I have little legs,” she told Barcroft TV.
“That affected my confidence a lot, I remember I used to go home crying because kids would make fun of me at school. The difference between then and now, is just most the fact of my confidence. I’m a lot happier.”
Things changed, however, when she discovered cosplaying a few years back. The lifestyle has certainly helped boost Young’s confidence, as the community did not judge her by her short stature.
“Who cares what size you are, what gender you are, what race you are? You can be whoever you wanna be in the cosplay world.”
“As a kid, I knew that I was different but I just didn’t really understand why. I was trying to hard to fit in, you can’t help who you are. But sometimes you just have to love yourself for who you are. I might as well just stand out and embrace it.”
Despite her apparent height difference among her peers, Young, a self-described “Mother of Pugs,” hasn’t actually been formally diagnosed with Dwarfism.
“Growing up, I’ve never actually been formally diagnosed with dwarfism. My parents always just said, ‘hey, you were born small’,” she said during her interview.
“My parents don’t have dwarfism, my siblings don’t have dwarfism, so I kind of popped out of my mum like, ‘surprise I have short legs – love me!’”
Even before joining the cosplay community, Young had always been into all sorts of fandoms, from “Star Wars,” Marvel, and DC Comics to games and anime like “League of Legends” and “Pokemon.”
“I’ve always been a geek at heart, I’ve always been a dork. I’ve always loved all sorts of fandom growing up. I’ve always been the nerd.”
Young first stepped into the cosplay world and convention about three to four years ago when she quickly convinced her husband, Ty Goossen, to come with her. She fell in love with the community ever since then.
“I love how accepting the community is, I love how you can be yourself and no one would ever judge you. There is no discrimination in the cosplay world, it’s all about having fun and being who you are.”
Speaking about her passion for cosplaying, Young said that being in her costume made her feel she’s in a whole new different world.
“My favourite part is actually making the costume, you put in all this hard work – sometimes it takes months, depending on how intricate it is,” she added, “it’s really neat seeing it come together.”
The first time she shared her story online did not exactly go smoothly when compared to now. Of course, she received positive feedback from her followers on social media, but she also received negative ones.
“I remember when I first started posting my cosplay stuff online, there were really good comments but there was also the negative,” she said. “Sometimes people on the internet forget that behind every picture, behind every keyboard, behind everything, is a human.”
Other people with dwarfism have also curious as to where she finds the courage and confidence to do that she does. “I’ve gotten messages from other little people, like, ‘how are you so confident? Where can I get this confidence? I love that you embrace yourself,’” Young said. “You have to love yourself, no one else can love you if you don’t love yourself first.”
“Back then I used to care so much about, like, what people thought of me. But now, I got the job, I got the marriage and I got the happy pug life – it’s nice!” As for her husband, he remembered how the couple, who’ve been together for six years now, met and how she was very positive, full of energy, and just overall so good to be around.
“We both kinda had a natural curiosity about it. We’re both into video games, we’re both into the comic book culture. We were like, this is something we would enjoy doing,” Ty told Barcroft TV. “I think Asta started out as not being the most confident, now I think she’s very confident in her cosplay, she’s vey confident in her art, she’s very confident in every little aspect she carries herself in life.”
Without a doubt, the lifestyle she chose clearly brought a positive impact in her life. “I would think that cosplay changed me for the better.”
Images via BARCROFT (used with permission)