Now this is a pretty tricky situation. First is that I have no idea of what had happened that led to that situation. Based on her profile, she's probably in upper grade school or high school depending on what region she is in, and a huge chance she is dependent on her parents for practically quite everything a 15 year old would need. So I wrote her a reply that ended up looking like a blog entry in itself.
So below was my attempt in explaining to her the reason why parents may have forbidden her to cosplay, and including advise that may help her convince them to allow her in the near future, provided she would satisfy their standards on handling a hobby responsibly.
- They fear that cosplay is a negative influence to their children. And with good reason! It all boils down to how a person manages their time and priorities. Often their lack of interests in academics and helping around the house may give them good reason not to like cosplay, or any other hobby for that matter.
- They think cosplaying is expensive. This is of course very relative. You can be creative with whatever scraps you have at home, or using very inexpensive items around. But I have witnessed some cosplayers who keep asking their parents to pay for their materials or commissions, which is a huge burden to their pockets if their children wanted to cosplay a different costume once a month or so. I had the good luck of already having a part time job while I was in school when cosplay was introduced to me, so there was not so much financial burden to my parents or relatives. But of course, I would always be careful with my priorities, even when I have the means to pay for my own hobby.
- Keeping your costumes. Having a huge closet full of costumes that you used only a few times can be a nasty eyesore to your parents. Sometimes I choose costumes that I can make and then sell/rent so I can have some money on the side. Its the best compromise I can have with my parents then. And sometimes since I do mecha, I often would recycle by destroying them (yes, I have willingly destroyed several of my past costumes!) so I can use the materials to make a new one. This solves my space problem at the same time, saving enough money to make new ones.
- Parents dont like your reason for cosplaying. When conservative folks find out you want to crossdress as a guy or girl, they would find it embarrassing or scandalous. Also adding the fact that they may not like you cosplaying because all you want is attention and fame (although I highly doubt majority of these parents are against this. Some even encourage their kids to cosplay so that they can get the attention of some variety show talent scout).
- Parents who dont like your choice of character. Face it, being a multi-tentacled Shikima Demon virgin-raper isnt exactly what your parents want you going around in public. Also applies to uber-revealing male or female characters (plenty in the gaming genre). Or even maybe Hitler.
It really took me a while to think of the best reply for her question and request. And my best advise is to be able to compromise with your parents, and to assure them that you'd still hold on to your family and schoolwork responsibilities despite having this unusual hobby on the side. Like any other hobby, cosplaying should never be the top priority until you graduate, get a job and provide for your own, where you can finally decide as a responsible adult if you want cosplay to be the center of your life of not.
One day in the future, we will someday decide to be parents/guardians too. And the kid/s may take up a hobby that may be beyond the reach of our understanding as well.