How much can one photograph mean to the cosplay community? Cosplayer Hijabi Hooligan recently posted a single photo of her Captain America cosplay online, and the internet went wild. The photo was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews and comments, but the amount of attention she received was completely unexpected.
The photo, pictured below depicts a Muslim woman wearing a Captain America costume, including an American flag-patterned hijab. The photo is a glowing symbol of what the majority of the cosplay community believes – that anyone can be anything. Women can cosplay as male characters (known as genderbending), African-American cosplayers can dress as Caucasian characters etc. Cosplaying can be about looking as much like the real character as possible, but more often than not it’s simply about celebrating that character and what they stand for.
As soon as I saw the photo on Facebook, I knew it was special. I shared it on social media and it totally blew up, showing that I was not alone in appreciating the photograph. I went straight to her Facebook page to give her a like and saw that she had just over 2,000 likes on her page. Now just two days later and she is nearing 9,000. Amazing!
Overwhelmed by the response, she’s been trying to keep up with all of the comments and messages she has received. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for The Marvel Report, so here are my Ten Questions with Hijabi Hooligan Cosplay.
1. This one photo has totally gone viral in the last couple of days. For anyone who is a fan of you, your Captain America costume and other cosplays, where can we find you on social media?
2. Where do you live?
I live in the Northeast part of England.
3. How long have you been cosplaying? A lot of people are nervous the first time they cosplay, were you nervous? How did it go?
I started cosplaying in 2013, and my first cosplay was Storm from X-Men! I was incredibly nervous, mainly because I had a feeling I’d be the only hijabi there and I was worried I’d get some hateful comments. But I ended up having an amazing time and making some life-long friends instead!
4. Your Captain America cosplay has gone viral over the last couple of days. What made you decide to cosplay Captain America in the first place?
Thank you so much! I’ve always loved Captain America. His character, his ideals and the fact he stands for freedom are all very endearing qualities. I also wanted to try and cosplay a character that was well known and that would stand out, even after being genderswapped and ‘hijabified’, and Cap screamed out to me as the obvious choice because of how popular he is with audiences all over the world!
5. Let’s talk about the costume itself. A few people wrongly assumed that the hijab was an American flag. We want everyone to be clear that you are not wearing an actual flag.
Absolutely. I’ve been made well aware of the reasoning behind some peoples’ reactions to my hijab and the fact they thought it was an actual flag, and I would like to put it out there that my hijab is NOT a real flag. It’s a scarf I found online with a vintage print of the stars and stripes.
6. What other details would you like to point out about the costume? The shield, the corset? Did you make any of it yourself? Was the design completely original or inspired from something that you saw online?
The original inspiration was a design I saw on Tumblr by a lovely lady called Nour Saleh. I based my first Captain America cosplay off this design, but eventually changed it to suit my style more.
The cosplay is almost entirely made up of pieces I either modified or hand made. The corset was modified, for example. I bought a white corset and painted the red stripes on. The shirt is modified to give it the interesting hemline, and I made the chest piece and attached it. The gloves were originally plain red full gloves which I cut into fingerless gloves, and I made the little shield motifs and stuck them on. The shield was a nightmare! I experimented with cardboard but eventually tried EVA foam, which is what this shield is made of. It wasn’t easy to make, partly because I lacked the proper tools and also because it was my first time making a prop, never mind a foam prop! The hijab, boots, belt and back piece were bought.
7. Is you Captain America costume completely finished, or a work in progress?
Like most projects, my cosplays are always a work in progress! I do plan to upgrade my shield, and I will probably try to change the costume again sometime in the future. But for now, I’m happy with it as it is.
8. I am a firm believer that when it comes to cosplay, anyone can be anything regardless of age/race/gender/body type. What would you say to anyone out there who is thinking about cosplaying as a character they don’t look like, or someone considering a genderbent cosplay?
I would tell them to forget their worries and go for it! Cosplay is for everyone, regardless of what you look like. The brilliant thing about cosplaying is that it’s open to interpretation. Just like I turn male characters into Muslim, hijab wearing females, a character can be adapted to different styles and to suit peoples’ requirements. Some of the best cosplays out there are adaptations!
9. Your Cap costume has become quite a hit. Besides that costume, what other costumes are you most proud of?
I would have to say either Loki, the Nightingale or my most recent fem Ezio. Loki was one of my first fully handmade cosplays and to this day remains one of my favourites. Nightingale definitely took the longest amount of time to make; roughly 2 months of hard work, including the time it took to make the bow and arrow! As for Ezio, he was always my favourite character to cosplay and will always hold a special place in my heart.
10. What other costumes are you currently working on, or considering for the future?
I have quite a few planned! I’m currently working on two: fem Gambit (X-Men), and a custom Wonder Woman! I also can’t wait to go back to some of my older costumes such as the Joker and revamp them!
I think Hijabi Hooligan is an amazing cosplayer and should be an inspiration to many current and future cosplayers. I hope you agree.