For Michelle Perl of Brooklyn, NY, cosplaying is not only a way to pay tribute to one of her favorite characters; it is a source of confidence and accomplishment. Particularly, since she used cosplaying to help her lose 100 pounds.
After gaining weight throughout high school and part of college, Perl found herself at her heaviest weight of 200lbs in 2007. She had been struggling with depression and was taking a variety of medications, which contributed to her weight gain.
In 2006, Perl’s mother also became sick with cancer and progressively got worse until she passed away in 2007.
“My mother played a very large role in my life and her death had a great impact on me,” said Perl. She realized her depression had only gotten worse after the loss of her mother and she decided to make some improvements in her life quickly before her emotional state got worse.
“I knew that if I adapted a healthy lifestyle and began exercising and seeing results, I could start to take my life in a new direction with improved confidence,” Perl said.
Perl, 27, decided to use the protagonist from her favorite video game, Metroid, as her role model and inspiration. Samus Aran, is an intergalactic bounty hunter in the game, who is responsible for wiping out an entire threatening alien species on her own.
“She is probably one of the most respected and strongest female heroines in video game history,” said Perl. “Although she was a long time silent protagonist, her actions spoke louder than words characterizing her as graceful, cunning, determined and powerful – all of which I felt were great attributes for me to look up to as a role model.”
Perl set a goal to make Samus’ zero suit costume, which is skin tight, and wear it as a cosplayer. Cosplaying is a hobby of anime, video game and comic book fans, where costumes based on fictional characters are made and worn at conventions and events. Some fans will even role play by acting like the character they are portraying or try to realistically portray the character in creative photography shoots.
So Perl went on a strict diet and started exercising. She’d go for long walks, exercise at home and dance in clubs every week.
“Surprisingly, I think the dancing was the biggest piece that really helped me shed the pounds,” said Perl. “Cardio exercise is really easy when you find a way to have fun with it.”
After 2 years of dedicated work, Perl lost 100lbs and in 2010, reached her goal weight of about 100lbs, a healthy weight for her short stature. She finished painting and designing Samus’ zero suit and has since worn it at so many events, she’s lost count.
“[I’ve worn it at] at a Nintendo World event, New York Comic Con, PAX East, Sakura Matsuri festival, Best Buy’s Nintendo 3DS release… I’ve even camped out for events in the freezing cold with it!” said Perl.
“I’m very proud of both the costume and my fitness achievement that came along with it.”