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Kim Henderson-McAndrew: “new, new look”

I strive to write and post every week on the blog. When it is non-COVID and I’m out and about more, twice a week. I really stick to that schedule. That way I stay engaged with readers and my writing improves through practice. I know with blogs that I follow, I love it so much […]

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I strive to write and post every week on the blog. When it is non-COVID and I’m out and about more, twice a week. I really stick to that schedule. That way I stay engaged with readers and my writing improves through practice. I know with blogs that I follow, I love it so much when there is a new post. I feel like I’m sharing an experience with the writer. I’d like to give that to my readers as well.


As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Henderson-McAndrew, famed Cosplayer, Host and the author of In Plain Sight: Using Everyday Cosplay to Express Your Inner Superhero

Kim Henderson McAndrew is an author and blogger known for her bold, self-proclaimed nerdy style and ability to combine cosplay with everyday fashion. She attributes her inner geek to the day her Dad took her to see “Star Wars” back in the 70’s; a day that changed her life forever.

Kim began immersing herself in the world of Cosplay after divorcing from her husband and realizing she lacked a sense of community or support system. So, she sought out to meet new friends, and in the process, she was introduced to the magical world of costume play. Over time, Kim started to realize that the more she allowed herself to indulge, the more confident and positive she became.

While a lover of the occasional screen-accurate cosplay, Kim used her unique style and love of certain fandoms to create every looks to honor superheroes ‘in plain sight’. Over time, friends and fellow cosplayers started encouraging her to publish a guide to help others learn how to do the same. So, in 2016, she launched InPlainSight.style, an all-ages geek/nerd fashion, mash-up cosplay, bounding and lifestyle blog with an emphasis on body confidence and body positivity.

As the blog’s popularity grew, so did the demand for a book. So, she decided to combine the articles her readers felt most useful, put them in one place into a workbook-type format and this year Kim published her first book, In Plain Sight: Using Everyday Cosplay to Express Your Inner Superhero.

Kim has hosted and appeared on several reputable Con panels and her main fandoms are Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and the Arthurian Legend. When she isn’t working, helping with homework or going to a con, she is hard at work on her next cosplay.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

I’m a southern girl, born in Arkansas and raised there, with the exception of four years in Kentucky. Those years were when my late father got his DMD (he was a dentist). I was close to my maternal grandmother, Doris. She had all the dresses with matching bags and shoes. She even wore hats! She looked to me like the glamourous ladies in the black and white movies that I loved watching on TV. Ladies like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Cyd Charisse. The 50’s “new look” was a huge influence/obsession for me. Compare that with the unfortunate 70’s fashions surrounding me at the time…well, I longed to be a 50’s child. To be glamourous like them. They were my standard of beauty. I could not stand up to that with my Marcia Brady stick straight hair and striped pants. Ugh.

Thank goodness the 80’s saved me. For adults, the 80’s were also extremely unfortunate (shoulder pads and so many blouses!), but for a teenager like me, it opened up a whole new world. I listened to Duran Duran and The Cure and the like, and their style was actually a part of their music. Their look was something I really identified with, because if you take a long look at those fashions, they harken back to a more glamourous time. There were lots of vintage jewelry piled on, hats, hats, hats, lots of skirts, but paired with leggings and fishnets instead of saddle shoes. I realized I wasn’t the only one that was obsessed by, and longed for, that “new look”, but modern day. Kind of a “new, new look” if you will.

Cut to today when vintage fashions have made a huge comeback, and I’m super here for it.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?

I read a ton when I was a kid. I was that kid that always asked the teacher if I could go to the library (nerd!). I really enjoyed Judy Blume books when I was a tween/teen. I felt “seen”. I was pretty bullied, due the aforementioned nerdery, and her books showed me there were other kids like me. Other kids that didn’t feel seen, didn’t feel like they belonged and wondered why they were different. When you are that age, being different is just awful. Now, at age 53, being different is amazing, but try telling a 13-year-old that! Also, I was fascinated, and continue to be fascinated by the King Arthur legend. “Mists of Avalon” is easily my favorite book.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely! I found myself getting a divorce after 20 years of marriage. The divorce was a bit of a shock to me. I had always pictured myself as being a career woman that kept a nice house and had a little family. I had all that, but I was the only one content with that, so things fell apart. That being said, it was a great opportunity to see what else there was out there for me. I asked myself what I would like my life to look like in a year. I realized that I had poured so much into my home, being a wife and mom, that my free time was really their free time. Now, I could do what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to comic book conventions (cons), have friends to go to cons with and really celebrate those things that I loved and just have fun being me. It hadn’t been fun to be me for a long time.

So, I made myself go out to events alone. That is short of impossible for nerds to do. We are pretty much prey animals in that regard. We need a small herd to protect us. We are used to being picked off and picked on, so we like protection. What I didn’t realize was that going into an event full of nerds, your herd is already there ready to welcome you in! What an incredible community!

I made friends. Lots of friends. A revelation to be sure.

The other big thing that happened was at this exact same time, nerd women were tired of not having fashions to wear to cons. If you wanted to cosplay, you could do that, but what if you just want to wear something cute and still celebrate your fandom? At that time, a lot of companies, lead by Ashley Eckstein’s new company, Her Universe, started businesses with cute dresses and pieces for nerd women to build their wardrobe and celebrate their fandoms. Not only that, but these clothes had a nice vintage slant to them. I, of course, was over the moon excited for all of this. Add to that, that the nerd community is a size-inclusive community. So plus-size women like myself can have fun too. I have always been so grateful to be included.

Those two things really inspired me to write the blog, InPlainSight.style. I wanted other plus size women that were maybe trying to find their way; find their confidence, to have a go-to site to help them.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

I really wanted to give people that enjoyed the blog, as well as people that had not discovered it yet, a workbook to make their own. I want people to mark passages that inspire them and shopping tips that help them, etc. I also created the Team Build Checklist, which helps people that have never created or built their own nerdy outfits before, an instruction manual to help them along. Again, nerds are super sensitive to being bullied, so we tend to lack confidence. An instructional guide is a great tool to help them over that hurdle. Once they get the hang of it, the confidence will follow. I want all nerds, regardless of gender-identity, to have body positivity and body confidence right here and now. Not when, “they lose the weight” or “have that cosmetic surgery”, but now. Because we all deserve to feel confident and positive in our own bodies how they are right this second. It brings me joy, and I want everyone to experience that joy.

Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?

I was thrilled with how the book came together, mostly due to my friend, Caryn, formatting it for me and the beautiful photos by my friend, Justin. Of course I wanted to sell more copies immediately and become an overnight sensation, but that very rarely happens, particularly in COVID times, so I have to be a Jedi now and be patient. The readers will find me. The readers that have absolutely love the book and have found it very helpful, so I know I’m on the right track.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.

I got a message on Instagram from a lady that said that my story of first trying on Her Universe clothing and realizing that plus-size women had been included (I had a mini-breakdown in a con bathroom…in a good way!) really touched her because she had the same struggles. People telling her to “act her age” and to “dress her age”, really discouraged her, but now she realizes that if I can do this, so can she. I inspired a person I’ve never met. Wow! That was super-humbling and touching to me. I want more people to feel that freedom so they can live their best lives.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

I get a ton of gratitude about sharing my experiences, warts and all. I don’t pretend that being a plus-size isn’t difficult sometimes. Weight shaming is one of the last appearance-based acceptable modes of shaming. It is an easy jab for someone to make at you, so putting yourself out there is difficult. Readers are encouraged that I confront the fact that I am plus-size in a non plus-size accepting world, and take on those challenges. I let them know they can do it too.

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?

When readers tell me that they put together their first nerdy outfit and wore it to a con or theme park and enjoyed the experience. They are always pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback they receive.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

I’ve been very, very lucky to not have any trolls to speak of really. I used to cosplay with my son, so when you have a kid with you, trolls tend to scuttle back under their bridge and leave you alone. Now that my son is a teen and cosplaying with his mom is a recipe for bullying of the highest order, I’m on my own. I did get one troll comment on my Captain America corset. Something like Cap is not overweight. I blocked and deleted. I do not engage. That is what they want so much, and to deny them that is beautiful. Before I took it down, one follower commented something like, “Um yeah, Cap has zero body fat. Also, fun fact, he doesn’t wear a corset and isn’t a woman.” The comment made me giggle. There really are amazing positive people out there. More of them than of the trolls, I believe.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

I love social media and the internet in general. It gets a bad rap because of the aforementioned trolls, but I have found a lovely community with supportive and fun people. Nerds can get isolated very easily, and social media helps them to engage and be a part of their communities. That being said, books are ever-lasting. You buy a book, and you have it forever, which is different than a social media post. You can hold it. You can make notes in the book (which some consider to be blasphemy, but I feel that you are engaging with the writer in a way, but that’s just my take on things). You can revisit a book anytime. Books can have a real lasting impact on people’s lives, whether they are self-help books or fictional stories or whatever. They are a lasting literal document of our existence.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I strive to write and post every week on the blog. When it is non-COVID and I’m out and about more, twice a week. I really stick to that schedule. That way I stay engaged with readers and my writing improves through practice. I know with blogs that I follow, I love it so much when there is a new post. I feel like I’m sharing an experience with the writer. I’d like to give that to my readers as well.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?

This wasn’t so much a failure as a disappointment when the book didn’t immediately take off. I just need to remember that the thing I work on day and night, isn’t on everyone else’s front burner.

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)

I’d say, 1- Share your story. The good and bad. Let the reader know you are a real person. 2- Reassure your reader that you remember how hard it was to take that first step. 3- Be reachable so you can provide encouragement when needed. 4- Share others’ success stories. Show that we can all accomplish our goals. 5- Write as much as you can and be patient with yourself.

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?

I think the body positivity and body confidence movement is something that needs to continue to grow and nurture, especially in these isolating times. Let people know that they are beautiful and worthy right here and now. Also let people know that they can reach out to each other (over Zoom these days, but still), and share their experiences and help each other.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Find me on InPlainSight.style. There is also a “buy the book” tab on the front page of the blog to purchase a book. You can also follow me @inplainsight.style on Instagram. If you want to email me, then please do at [email protected]

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