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The animated clip flashes by and for a few seconds she rises, facing a creature several times her size that she has no chance of defeating. But still she stands. Something about her position tells the viewer that, despite her fear, she will win. It is then that I not only imagine being her, but also decide that I will become her. This is the art of cosplay, adopting the physical appearance and immaterial mannerisms of a character to construct a costume that will allow the story to continue beyond where the author left it.

My knowledge of my chosen character, Peregrine, is meager because her official story ends in the course of a few animated scenes. The details I found on her clothing are obscured by the heavy winds and sandy dunes of her setting. Yet these scenes of her surroundings are enough for me to recall history lessons of the unique ways each culture adapted to its environment. Fashions are rooted in practicality: the quilted dresses and heavy fabrics of northern countries contrasted starkly with the layered robes and flowing, airy fabrics of desert climates. I decided that Peregrine, as a desert dweller, wore the latter. I wanted to incorporate her culture back into the clothing, so I learned to copy designs from the...

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