Ever attended events like Anime Festival Asia, Japanese Cultural Festival or Singapore Comic Con? If yes, you’d have seen the throngs of people who creatively bring characters from film, television, books or Japanese anime and manga to life by donning colourful costumes – they’re known as cosplayers.
Among these enthusiasts is a cosplayer who wants to be known as Nur Mimi. While the nature of cosplaying is to don a larger-than-life costume of one’s favourite character, this 25-year-old’s approach is unique.
She is a hijabi cosplayer who goes by Shirumimi.
The hijab is based on the religious concept of modesty, seen in the headscarf or headcover and modest clothes that Muslim women wear. A hijabi is the term for Muslim women who observe the hijab.
As a hijabi, when Nur cosplays, she keeps her hair and her body appropriately covered.
“Many anime costumes are known for being revealing,” Nur said. “But I’ve learned that they can be creatively reimagined to suit a hijabi style.”
A LOVE FOR ANIME AND CUTE CHARACTERS
“I’d known about cosplaying for a while, but whenever I saw photos of cosplayers, they were often dressed in very tight or revealing clothes due to the original character design,” Nur said.
“I don’t think it’s a problem by itself, but as someone who wears the hijab, it wasn’t something that was aligned with my values related to modesty.”
So she Googled “hijabi cosplayers”. To her delight, she found many cosplayers – especially in Malaysia and Indonesia – who, like her, wear the hijab and had been doing so for years while cosplaying.
Inspired by these hijabi cosplayers, Nur started experimenting on her own to figure out how to style anime characters while wearing a hijab.
What was particularly time-consuming and difficult: Getting the hijab to look like anime-style hair.
She declined to reveal her secrets but said: “It’s all about patience and being open to trying new ways”.
Almost two years after entering the world of cosplay, Nur has no intention to stop. To date, she has spent around S$1,000 on her costumes and modifications.
“It’s a crazy amount that takes a lot to save – truly an expensive but fulfilling hobby,” the civil servant said.
There are tens of thousands of anime characters out there, and the possibilities of cosplaying any of them are also similarly endless, she said.
“I’d like to see how I can be more innovative when coming up with costumes of characters who inspire the most fun and creativity in me.”
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BALANCING HER MUSLIM VALUES AND COSPLAYING INTERESTS
What’s crucial is understanding her personal boundaries when engaging in her hobby.
“If I feel like I’m losing myself and straying away from my religion when I’m cosplaying, then I should be brave enough to let go of my hobby,” she said.
“As much as I love cosplaying, if it compromises my identity as a Muslim or leads me to forget some of my religious values, I’m prepared to say goodbye.”
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