Outside the world of cosplay, Filipino cosplayer LiaBear describes herself as "a burnt-out adult, working hard to pay bills, then crying about it later".
"I love cosplay, anime, games, and TikTok. I have four cats and one dog. Only the dog likes me. My cats ignore my existence. In my spare time, I spend hours of my day watching anime and TikTok videos. It's both my hobby and a way of gathering information about the latest trends," LiaBear told Digital Life Asia.
It was in 2014 that LiaBear began her cosplay journey.
"I cosplayed Alice from 'Kamisama no Memochou' ('Heaven's Memo Pad'). I was aware of cosplay from Animax, but I got started with the help of my classmate," she said.
Asked which characters she has cosplayed and which one is her favorite, LiaBear replied: "I've cosplayed a lot, but my favorites are Tifa Lockhart and Yor Forger. Mainly because of their character design. They're both hot and strong – qualities I strive for."
What's LiaBear's most memorable cosplay experience so far?
"So far, my favorite was guesting for Cosplay Up!, because I got to go around, have fun, and compete with fans."
Gamer and gravure model
LiaBear also shared that she likes playing video games.
"I play games casually. I'm not a hardcore gamer. The first game I played was Super Mario and Donkey Kong, on the Family Computer (Editor's note: the Nintendo Famicom, which was released in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System) with my brother. He only played with me because he didn't have a choice. We weren't allowed to go out. Lol, I feel old.
"Now, I play Mobile Legends, Nikke, Final Fantasy, Stray, etc. I play casually," she said.
Apart from being a cosplayer, LiaBear is also a gravure model. In Japan, the term gravure idol was coined to refer to models who pose in swimsuits and lingerie for magazines and photo books targeted to a male audience.
When did LiaBear start doing gravure modeling?
"I started in 2018, way past the legal age. I've always loved the gravure style of photography. So I tried my best to apply this style to my content. People liked it so I started doing it more.
"I only started earning in 2019, though, and it was just enough to cover the expenses of this hobby. I have started doing it full-time since then to support my living expenses and college expenses," she said.
Asked what message she would like to share, LiaBear replied: "Gravure models and cosplayers are still people. We might not have the most ideal jobs. But we still want to be treated like human beings. Most of us are not doing this forever. We want to live a normal life. We are not your love interests. We are not bad people. So please don't hate us or disrespect us."
Don't be a hater. Respect the cosplayer.