Have you ever wished that you could turn yourself into someone else? Well, Alyson Tabbitha knows exactly how to make that desire a reality. The cosplay pro is no stranger to trawling through thrift stores, searching for the perfect items to turn into the ultimate costumes. Then, once Tabbitha’s nabbed her treasures, she skilfully applies makeup to contour her face, pops in contacts if she needs to and changes up her hair. With these crucial steps complete, the creative artist transforms herself into almost any persona that she wants – male, female or even fantastical. And you simply won’t believe that some of her stunning looks aren’t the real deal.
Tabbitha’s predisposition for transforming herself into fictional characters actually runs in her genes, though. In 2015 the cosplayer told The Insightful Panda that her parents loved to disguise themselves – her mother even apparently made a living dressing up as various characters. So, when Tabbitha joined the family, it only made sense that she got handmade costumes to wear, too.
And not only did dress-up and costumes play a big part of Tabbitha’s upbringing, but her mom also taught her the skills that she would need to one day create her own looks. This know-how certainly came in handy, too, when Tabbitha attended her first cosplaying event in 2014. Before then, you see, the makeup artist had had little idea about what it truly meant to take part in such a gathering.
Cosplay combines the words “costume” and “play” – and that alone gives a hint as to what the hobby entails. Typically, an individual participating in this style of performance art picks a character from a comic book, movie, TV series, anime show, video game or other source of their choosing and puts together a costume that mimics their new persona.
So, for Tabbitha’s first foray into cosplay, she decided to arrive at Megacon 2014 dressed as her take on Lightning Farron – the protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII. And nailing the intricate costume of the character that Tabbitha had chosen would likely trip up even an experienced cosplayer. But the young woman seemingly put together an eye-catching look with ease – especially considering the fact that it was Tabbitha’s first time trying her hand at cosplay.
And Tabbitha’s resulting look – and new-found passion – had one rather unexpected result: the cosplayer’s mom was apparently thrilled about her daughter’s new hobby. This appreciation for Tabbitha’s pastime of choice became increasingly apparent later on, too, when the young woman roped her brother and sister into cosplay as well. Indeed, when Tabbitha spoke to the The Insightful Panda, she revealed, “it made [her] mom happy to know her adult kids not only are still best friends and learned many skills from her, but [that they] also participate in such a fun and innocent hobby together.”
But, of course, cosplay also ignited a powerful spark in Tabbitha herself. The budding performance artist realized, you see, that she had the skills to create both convincing costumes and striking makeup looks to pay homage to her favorite characters. And although Tabbitha “had no idea how wonderful this hobby was when [she] first jumped in,” her passion grew to dizzying heights.
After Tabbitha’s first forays into cosplay, then, her fascination with her new pastime continued to grow until cosplay had become one of the centerpieces of her life. This isn’t to say that the young woman neglects her other creative endeavors, though; she still crafts jewelry and sculptures as well as producing art that she puts up for sale on the internet. Yet despite Tabbitha’s other artistic interests, it’s her unique looks that have garnered her significant attention on social media sites. Yes, when the cosplayer started uploading photographs of her creations to social media, she began to gain a fanbase. Tabbitha currently has nearly one million Instagram followers, for instance, and her clips have accumulated millions of views on YouTube.
One of Tabbitha’s transformations that would go on to make a huge impression online was her Wonder Woman look, which was inspired by Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot’s version of the character. And for Tabbitha, too, the project held a special place in her heart. In a YouTube video explaining the step-by-step process to making the costume, she explains, “I love Wonder Woman, so I’m so excited to make this tutorial.”
After applying a base level of foundation, Tabbitha’s transformation begins – and it instantly becomes clear how much effort she puts into her cosplay. The makeup artist starts by using eyeshadow to contour her nose so that it appears to have a similar shape to Gadot’s. In the YouTube video, Tabbitha advises, “You might not need to do this, depending on the natural shape of your nose.”
And the same sage advice applies to the makeup guru’s next steps, as Tabbitha continues to mirror Gadot’s facial structure through the power of makeup. The cosplayer contours her cheekbones, temples and eyes before pencilling in her eyebrows to match her Hollywood counterpart. Tabbitha continues, “[Gadot’s] eyebrows are kind of close together in the middle but not too close, and they get thicker at the arch.”
Eye makeup comes next, and Tabbitha uses a combination of eyeshadow and liner to create a subtle winged look. But when the cosplayer picks up her eyeshadow brush yet again, this time she employs it for a rather different task. You see, Tabbitha inventively uses the palette’s darker hues to alter her hairline so that it matches Gadot’s widow’s peak.
And with this innovative step complete, Tabbitha then imparts a piece of valuable advice that any viewers who may want to mimic her cosplay look – or indeed any others – should probably bear in mind. In the YouTube video, she says, “I always look carefully at reference photos of the characters I’m doing my makeup to look like.” The cosplayer then adds the finishing touches to her face by swiping mascara onto her eyelashes and eyebrows.
With the makeup now finished, Tabbitha turns her attention to her locks. She heats up a curling iron and begins the laborious process of wrapping one section of hair around the styling tool at a time, securing each coil with a bobby pin afterwards so that it holds its shape. Then, once Tabbitha has gone over her entire head, she removes the bobby pins and teases out the bouncing curls with her fingers – using a liberal amount of hairspray to keep them in place as she does so.
Now Tabbitha has completed her look – and her resemblance to Gadot’s version of Wonder Woman is uncanny. One YouTube user wrote, “Are you Gal Gadot for real? Maybe you are Gal Gadot’s double for the action scenes. Amazing makeup.” Another commented, “Oh my gosh!! You are Wonder Woman! You did such a fantastic job on everything!”
Another stunning transformation sees Tabbitha becoming Leeloo from cult movie The Fifth Element. And in her tutorial, the cosplayer again shares some pretty ingenious tips for making her face look just like that of Milla Jovovich’s character. Firstly, Tabbitha says that she uses foundation to even out her skin tone and play down her natural facial structure.
Then Tabbitha whips out a surprising tool to shape her eyebrows: a glue stick. The cosplayer reveals that the handy school supply can help keep stray eyebrow hairs down. In addition, once the glue has dried, it forms a smooth enough surface for foundation to be applied over the top. Following this, then, Tabbitha goes on to lighten her glued-down brows with both liquid- and powder-based products.
After that, much of Tabbitha’s cosmetic process is devoted to impressively contouring her features. And the makeup artist uses eyeshadows to shape and highlight different parts of her face so that she more resembles Jovovich. The actress’ brow bone, for instance, is more pronounced than Tabbitha’s, so the cosplayer uses makeup to fashion hers the same way. She darkens the sides of her nose with various eyeshadows, too, to give the illusion of a broader bridge.
But any transformation into Leeloo wouldn’t be complete without a visual plumping of the lips – according to Tabbitha, at least. The makeup aficionado therefore uses a berry lip stain to exaggerate the edges of her own pout, making her mouth seem fuller without looking unnatural. She then opts for a pencil to color in her lips and adds shine with a finishing layer of gloss.
Now that Jovovich’s signature pout is complete, Tabbitha says that she’s ready to “take this look to the next level.” She proceeds to pop in a pair of green contacts to mask her brown eyes. Next, she applies a peachy eyeshadow over the top of her glued-down brows – a shade that matches the custom wig Tabbitha created to cosplay as Leeloo.
But the basic wig came without a proper part, meaning Tabbitha had to create one herself. In the video detailing the creative process, then, the cosplayer is seen cutting pieces of hair from the wig’s base and then squeezing hot glue onto the end of the strands. After this step is complete, Tabbitha subsequently presses the tresses into the middle of the wig’s top and positions the strands of hair so that they fall on either side of the part. She then uses a special tool to push firmly onto the hairs and help create a defined division.
And after having successfully created a middle part, Tabbitha then moves onto styling the wig so that it resembles Leeloo’s one-of-a-kind hairstyle. The cosplayer begins by wetting the synthetic strands with water. Next, she separates the wig into small sections, twists them and runs a flat iron over the spirals to seal them into place.
But the wig is then in need of a trim, as both its tresses and bangs are too long to properly mimic Leeloo’s iconic hairstyle. So, Tabbitha grabs a pair of scissors and chops away. She advises, “I start by cutting off a few inches, then I work my way up. Be careful, though, because if you cut it too long you can always cut off more later. But if you cut it too short, then there’s not much you can do.”
After having shared this gem, Tabbitha proceeds to the final step of her wig transformation process. The cosplayer grabs a bowl full of fluorescent orange acrylic paint and brushes the vibrant shade onto the wig, being careful to cover every strand with the lurid substance. She suggests, “Use your brush to really work it into the synthetic fibers. A synthetic wig won’t absorb the color, so you’re mainly just focusing on coating the hair.”
And surprisingly, Tabbitha’s DIY doesn’t end there; she hand-makes her character’s wardrobe, too. In the video, the cosplayer shows off an large white T-shirt that she picked up at a thrift store. The seamstress says that she purchased it for its fabric rather than its shape – Leeloo wears a crop top, after all.
So, Tabbitha starts by slicing away the shirt’s sleeves before cutting its side seams. She then slips into the opened-up garment and pins it along the sides of her body so that it will fit as tightly as Leeloo’s tee. Next, the cosplayer marks where the sleeves should go and subsequently cuts them from the fabric scraps that she has to hand.
With the sleeves pinned in place, then, Tabbitha just has to sew the new crop top together. And once this is complete, the seamstress moves onto Leeloo’s golden leggings, which she says can be homemade or purchased. Regardless, they’ll likely need a lined detail like Leeloo’s pants, and Tabbitha has sewn on a set of elastic bands to create the same effect.
Tabbitha’s next step has her making a belt out of craft foam. Her approach to crafting a buckle is particularly ingenious, though. You see, the cosplayer reveals that she used a handful of popsicle sticks to fashion into the desired shape. Then, once she was happy with her design, she subsequently covered her creation in poster board, glued it together and added the finishing touches with some gold paint. And, amazingly, the final effect looks just like a metallic belt buckle. The cosplayer then attaches the accessory to her leggings with Velcro.
So, with Tabbitha’s costume complete, the makeup pro can once more turn her attention to her face and put the finishing touches on her look. The cosplayer dons a pair of bright orange braces that she bought from another artisan, although she confesses that she thought about making them herself. She also brings out a frame for her homemade Multi Pass – an ID card that Leeloo carries in the movie. It emerges, too, that Tabbitha has Photoshopped herself onto a faux Multi Pass of her own.
And once again, the video of the transformation process – as well as the stunning finished product – garnered lots of praise for Tabbitha. One user wrote on YouTube, “You look just like [Leeloo]! [I] am going to cry. The Fifth Element is my favorite movie of all time! So beyond cool to me.”
Another person suggested that Tabbitha look into transforming herself into more characters played by Jovovich. They wrote, “You should cosplay as any version of her Alice character from the Resident Evil films.” But it appears as though the crafty creative isn’t in need of inspiration for her looks at all.
In some of Tabbitha’s social media posts, you see, the cosplayer debuts some original characters of her own. For instance, in 2014 she wrote on Facebook that she “got some elf ears for no reason, then made some dragon statues for [her] shop.” That gave Tabbitha the inspiration to do her makeup, adhere the ears to her own, throw on some wigs and stage a fantastical photo shoot.
On many other occasions, though, Tabbitha’s inspiration is patently clear, as she looks just like the characters she decides to cosplay. Along with the aforementioned Wonder Woman and Leeloo looks, she has successfully transformed herself into Star Wars’ Padmé Amidala Naberrie, Elsa from Frozen and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Nebula.
And Tabbitha has no problem transforming into male characters, either. Since the tender age of 14, in fact, each year the cosplayer has returned to one get-up in particular: Captain Jack Sparrow, the star of the Pirates of the Caribbean five-part movie series.
What’s more, Tabbitha has explained why she chooses to recreate the Jack Sparrow costume so often. She told The Insightful Panda, “Well, Jack is just a fun character to be. He’s one of the few costumes that when I put it on, I instantly get into character. Kids and adults alike love him. And after several years of dressing as him – and me being a huge fan since I was a young girl – he really has a special place in my heart.”
On top of that, Tabbitha has donned looks that have been inspired by David Bowie in both his musical and on-screen careers. For instance, the cosplayer recreated the iconic lightning bolt face paint that Bowie is seen wearing on the cover of his album Aladdin Sane. And Tabbitha has also delivered her own take on the pop icon’s starring role in one of her favorite movies: Labyrinth.
Tabbitha’s cosplay resume also contains an Edward Scissorhands look that she made entirely from scratch. In fact, the cosplayer posted on Instagram that she considers this work to be “one of [her] favorite costumes [she’s] ever made.” The creative artist has also shared her transformations into Legolas from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Interview With the Vampire’s haughty Lestat de Lioncourt.
And it appears that Tabbitha has had an inspirational effect on certain members of her devoted online audience. Yes, a number of her followers are delving into the world of cosplay as a result of Tabbitha’s incredible looks. One commenter wrote, “I am trying to recreate your costume. This whole idea [started] years ago when I first saw your picture, and the idea was stuck in my head for all this time. So thank you very much for being you, being so inspirational and being so beautiful.”
For her part, Tabbitha explained to Insightful Panda what draws people to cosplay. She said, “There’s really no ‘required’ reason to cosplay other than simply wanting to… So long as someone wants to try cosplay, they should! They can find their own personal reasons to keep doing it along the way.”
In Tabbitha’s case, though, it’s all about embracing who she is while creating intricate looks inspired by someone else. The cosplayer added, “Despite constantly dressing as people that aren’t me, I have never been more myself than I am now. I used to always want to seem cool and reserve my goofiness. Now I embrace my derpyness, and I am not ashamed of playing dress-up as an adult.”