If you have young children, you know how much fun playing dress-up can be. There are firemen, cowboys, ballerinas, and of course, Disney Princesses.
What if you could continue playing dress-up as an adult? To continue transforming into The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel or Anna from Frozen — even if for only a few hours? Well, that’s just what one 22-year-old make-up artist is now famous for. But there’s a catch: Richard Schaefer is all man.
Schaefer lives in Orange County, California, and uses make-up to transform himself into the Disney Princesses and other characters — along with a steel-boned corset and an impressive array of wigs and costumes. In fact, his collection boasts over 30 wigs and 40 costumes!
Of course, cosplay is nothing new. Head to any comic book convention and you’re bound to see countless fans dressed as their favorite characters from film, television, comic books, and video games. The rise of Comic-Con has even led to some performers becoming “professional cosplayers” — traveling to events around the country and getting paid to cosplay.
From Man to Disney Princess
The difference between Schaefer and regular cosplay comes down to his amazing skill. His creations look so much like their animated counterparts, it’s almost as if they’ve walked right out of the screen.
Check out this amazing Beauty and the Beast transformation:
Harry Potter star Emma Watson is starring in a new live-action Beauty and the Beast film for 2017, but for authenticity’s sake, Schaefar may just give her a run for her money!
Here’s a stunning look at Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid (yes, Schaefer is Ariel):
Here’s a shot from the original 1989 classic, for comparison’s sake:
How about a little Pocahontas?
I don’t know about all the colors of the wind, but I’d say Schaefar has got all the colors of perfect cosplay down to an art.
1996’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is not as well-remembered as other Disney classics, but Schaefar’s version of Esmerelda is impressive nonetheless:
When he’s not busy studying fashion design, Schaefer likes attending conventions and other events in his elaborate costumes:
“I think it’s a real compliment when people think that I’m a female cosplayer because it means that my transformations must be convincing.
“I enjoy being in character because I get to be a different person for a while, which is fun.”
It takes Schaefer about two hours to complete each look, which is accomplished with contouring techniques and colored contact lenses.
A Transformation Built From New-Found Confidence
Schaefer says his obsession began after losing a lot of weight in his senior year of high school:
“I was a bit of a loner at school and spent a lot of time by myself.
“But when I lost the weight, I felt more confident and able to just brush off any comments.
“I decided to start cosplaying as princesses because of how androgynous people used to say I was.
“Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to transform myself into my favourite princess – Ariel, who I have loved since I was a child.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how convincing I looked so I decided to stick at it and try different princesses too.”