By Hannah Stevens @hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: Dave Cruz
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux
Although she’s never been formally diagnosed with dwarfism, Asta Young, 25, was always made to feel different by her peers at school.
Standing at just 4ft 5in, this cosplayer from Arizona, found her confidence in the nerd world when she realised that her height couldn’t stop her from transforming into heroes like Kida from Atlantis, DC’s Aquaman, Princess Leia and Disney’s Kim Possible.
Asta told Barcroft TV: “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.”
The self-described 'Mother of Pugs' now shares her cosplay adventures to over 112,000 followers on Instagram.
She said: “I’m basically an artist and I cosplay and I’m also a gamer. I’m also the mother of pugs! Crazy pug lady over here.
“Growing up, I’ve never actually been formally diagnosed with dwarfism. My parents always just said, ‘hey you were born small.’
“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!’”
As a child, Asta was often picked on for her height and it made her feel isolated from her peers in school.
She said: “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.
“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.
“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!”
The cosplayer was already a huge fan of everything nerd - including Pokémon, League of Legends, Marvel, Nintendo and Stars Wars - when she discovered cosplay, which she credits with transforming her confidence again.
She said: “Cosplay is basically like costume play. I got into it, I think, three for years ago, 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.”
After falling into the cosplay world online, Asta quickly convinced her husband Ty Goossen to come along to their first comic convention - the rest is geek history.
Asta said: “So, we went to our very first convention - I think it was 3 or 4 years ago - and I just fell in love with it ever since.
“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.”
Despite the constant glue gun burns, Young thrives on creating new costumes for her fantastical characters.
She said: “When you’re in costume, you’re in a whole 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.
“It’s really neat seeing it come together.”
Ty was struck by her energy from the moment they met and the couple have been together for six years.
He said: “My first impression of Asta, was that she was just so positive, so energetic and just 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.
“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.”
After she began sharing her story online, Asta got a mixed response - some praised her confidence and others left nasty comments.
She said: “I remember when I first started posting my cosplay stuff online, there were really good comments but there was also the negative.
“Sometimes people on the internet forget that behind every picture, behind every keyboard, behind everything, is a human.
“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.’
“You have to love yourself, no one else can love you if you don’t love yourself first.
“I’ve always been confident and I think cosplay has made me into an even more confident person. I would think that cosplay changed me for the better.”