By Gareth Shoulder @GarethShoulder
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Videographer / director: Marcus Cooper, Will Francombe
Producer: Gareth Shoulder, Kim Nguyen
Editor: Thom Johnson
Cinita C is a self-taught costume designer from Brooklyn, New York whose mission is to represent plus-size women and women of colour.
The 25-year-old took matters into her own hands in 2012 when she couldn’t find costumes in her size, she began learning to first make them for herself and later for other people.
By addressing the disparity of diversity in the comic book world, Cin hopes to inspire others by creating a more inclusive space for the cosplay community.
Cin told Barcroft TV: “I feel the need to not redefine cosplay but add a broader definition to it because I need others to see that there are people like them.
“The prejudice I face is mostly being plus-sized, that I’m too fat to be a character or I shouldn’t be doing it because of my weight or because of my size.
“The prejudice mostly lies, sadly, within the internet community.
“People feel the right to be able to say whatever they want to another person, just because they’re not in front of them.”
After attending a comic convention in New York seven years ago, Cin noticed most comic book characters were portrayed as white.
She quickly realised cosplay options were limited for people of her shape and ethnicity.
“I fell in love with the idea of going around, dressed up as a character and taking pictures with other people dressed up,” she said.
“I realised that cosplay wasn’t exactly made for me pretty quickly, but it didn’t discourage me.
“Even though I couldn’t find things that were my size, I would buy them and alter them.
“It took a while for me to come out of the box and be like, ‘I’m going to try it’.”
Cin began creating costumes that were unavailable to her when she first became interested in cosplay.
The Hispanic cosplayer hopes other women of colour are inspired when they see her dress as characters often portrayed as typically white or Asian.
“When I’ve met people or spoken to them online, their biggest appreciation is that I’m a plus-size person of colour – Afro-Latina.
“I’m doing something that isn’t necessarily made for me, but I decided I enjoyed it and why not.
“The fact other people see it and wanted to be part of it originally, but were hesitant, and now they see me and they’re like, ‘I can do this’.
“It doesn’t matter my skin type, it doesn’t matter my sexual orientation, none of those things matter – if I love a character, I can respectfully portray them.”
Although Cin comes from a family of women who sew, she didn’t start until she was 18 years old.
She received her first sewing machine for her birthday and was bitten by the bug.
“I had no choice but to learn how to sew if I wanted to dress up as my favourite characters.
“I began by altering either clothing I had or things that I bought.
“I taught a lot of this stuff to myself and if I didn’t learn from Google then I learned from YouTube videos.
“When I first started there weren’t many cosplay videos but luckily these days there are a ton of different cosplay tutorials.
“I have a few videos up because I want to help anyone who might want to learn.
“When I built my costumes, I built them for me. Even if it was a character, I altered it to fit me better.”
Cin has a younger sister, Myya who is five years old.
She hopes to be a positive influence in her life, paving the way for the next generation of cosplayers.
“For my sister I try to be a role model,” she said.
“I want to live my life in a way she sees positivity through, that she sees that she can be better, do better as a person.
“I just want to show her she can just give love to the world and to herself while doing things that she enjoys.”
How much the multimillion-dollar comic book industry will be prepared to change because of Cin is up for debate.
However, what can’t be disputed is the visibility of people like Cin removing barriers to future generations of cosplayers.
“I want to redefine cosplay; I want to help the cosplay community to show others that there’s so much more than one type.
“You don’t have to be one type of person; you can be every person.
“As long as you are true to yourself, you understand what you’re doing and you’re respectful to others, you can do anything.”