Furry costumes

Furry costumes DEFAULT

Furries — people with an interest in anthropomorphized animals, like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokémon — have come in for a lot of ridicule over the years from posters on sites like Something Awful and 4chan. Mainstream press accounts tend to portray furries as sexual fetishists united by a common interest in sex in animal costumes.

But survey evidence suggests a lot of these stereotypes are wrong (very few furries think sex in animal costumes is a good idea, for instance). Here's a brief guide to the furry community, which hopefully can clear up some of these misunderstandings.

1) So being a furry means you run around in a fur suit all the time, right?

Fur-suiters on parade at Anthrocon 2007. Note that most of the people on the convention floor aren't suited. (Douglas Muth)

Fur-suiting and the furry community tend to be conflated in the popular press, but research by the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, which studies the furry fandom, suggests fur-suiters are a minority of that community.

A 2007 survey found that only 26.4 percent of respondents at a furry convention reported owning a fur-suit and 30 percent reported wearing one. A 2014 survey found that tails are the most commonly owned fur-suit component, with 48.1 percent of respondents at Furry Fiesta 2014 reporting owning a tail. Only 13 percent reported owning a full suit, while 34.3 percent reported wearing any clothing or accessories associated with their furry persona or "fursona" (more on that in a sec).

2) Is being a furry just a sexual fetish?

No, though, like with any other fan interest (video games, comics, etc.) there are sexual themes present. While sexual activity with other furries (known as "yiffing," after the sound foxes make during sex) is part of the subculture for some, others maintain a non-erotic interest in the subject.

Furries are typically subject to media portrayals that overemphasize the sexual aspect of the fandom, such as this bit from 30 Rock:

Furry Josh Strom explained to Boing Boing's Lisa Katayama, "We go to conventions to hang out with friends, maybe buy something like art or badges, go to a discussion panel or see a show. Swinger parties and fetishes are there, but that's not what the fandom is about." And the focus on sex in fur suits is particularly wrongheaded. For one thing, only a small minority of furries own full fur suits. For another, as Plante points out, "Nearly all fur-suiters will make it explicitly clear that sex in a fur suit is completely undesirable (not arousing, damaging to the suit, and not something they’re interested in doing)."

A survey at Furry Fiesta 2013 found that 96.3 percent of male respondents and 78.3 percent of female ones reported viewing furry pornography (which, it should be noted, is a broad category and typically quite similar to regular porn albeit with furry traits added); men reported looking at furry porn 41.5 times per month on average, while women reported looking 10.5 times per month.

But they also reported that most of their involvement in the fandom was non-sexual. Men reported spending 34 percent of their online roleplaying time on sexual content, and women reported spending only 21.4 percent. Nearly half of male furries, and a large majority of women, reported that sexual content played little or no role in their introduction to the fandom:

(International Anthropomorphic Research Project)

3) So what is a furry, then?

In the broadest sense, a furry is someone with an interest in anthropomorphized animals — that is, animals who have been given human characteristics, like an ability to talk or walk on their hind legs.

That encompasses a wide spectrum, from people who are simply fans of TV shows and video games featuring anthropomorphic animal characters (like Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokémon), to people who develop a highly specific furry character ("fursona") they identify with, to "otherkin" who see themselves as not fully human on a spiritual or mental level.

Dr. Courtney "Nuka" Plante, a social psychologist at the University of Waterloo and member of the Anthropomorphic Research Project team, analogizes furries to other fan groups, like comic book enthusiasts or Trekkers. "It has its origins in the science fiction fandom," he said. "If you like comic books with characters who are like animals, or artwork with humans with animal traits, those would be considered forms of furry artwork."

4) What is a fursona?

A fursona inspired by The Lion King (Nala15)

A fursona is a "furry-themed avatar" which furries use "to represent themselves when interacting with other members of the fandom," according to a recent paper by social psychologist Plante and fellow Anthropomorphic Research Project members Dr. Sharon Roberts, Dr. Stephen Reysen, and Dr. Kathy Gerbasi. "Nearly every furry has a fursona," Plante said. "It's well into the high 90s — 97 or 98 percent."

Crafting a fursona involves picking an animal — real or mythical — to represent yourself as, or, less commonly, designing a new mythical animal for yourself. Fursonas typically have names and are often the inspiration for artwork or fiction, but the degree of investment in them can vary. "For many it's just a cutesy avatar to represent yourself to people," Plante said. "For others, it's much more deep and meaningful."

5) Can I get a music break?

Of course! In addition to visual artists and fiction writers, many furries are accomplished musicians who create work with furry themes or otherwise blend their musical interests into their fandom. Here's Bucktown Tiger, a furry pianist, performing a movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at Anthrocon, the world's largest furry convention held in Pittsburgh every year, in 2010:

6) So being a furry isn't really about sex. What do furry fans actually do, then?

You can divide furry fan activities into online fandom and furry conventions. In each case, the analogy to science fiction and comic book fandoms is strong. Fan art is an important part of furry fandom, just as it is for comic book fans. A 2012 synthesis from the Anthropomorphic Research Project, looking at several surveys conducted online and in various conventions, found that the vast majority of the most popular furry sites are art-related. Many of those sites — like FurAffinity and SoFurry — also host furry-related fiction and music, and provide forums for fan discussion and community-building.

Conventions — which Plante says about half of furries attend on an annual or semiannual basis — create an in-real-life space for furries, many if not most of whom have met online, to hang out, and they also provide a way to talk to artists who are popular within the fandom. This is similar to how events like Comic Con let people talk to favorite movie directors and actors and comic artists. "It's like sci-fi fandom," Plante said. "If a fan is much more casual, it may be enough to buy the books and watch the movies. But for others, meeting JJ Abrams or meeting the voice actors from your favorite show is very meaningful."

Like fans in other communities, furries often report being bullied or ostracized in the past. "These conventions are the first places they could go to not be picked on for being into these comics or watching cartoons when they're no longer a kid," Plante said.

7) Are furries the same thing as bronies?

The cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (My Little Pony)

No, but they're not totally disconnected either. "Bronies" refers exclusively to fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; originally it only referred to male fans but the definition has been broadened in practice. Bronies share one basic commonality with furries: they're interested in anthropomorphized representations of animals. The 2012 survey synthesis found that nearly a quarter (23.5 percent) of furries identify as bronies. This wasn't the result of a brony "invasion" of furrydom, the results suggest, but rather a development of interest in the show by pre-existing furries.

About half of furries consider bronies a subgroup of furrydom; another 28 percent say they're related but not a subset, and 22 percent say there's no connection at all. There's a substantial degree of enmity toward bronies among furries as a whole, with 38 percent expressing negative views toward them compared to 36 percent reporting positive feelings and 26 percent reporting indifference.

Interestingly, there were very few demographic differences between the furry and brony fandoms. "With only a few minor exceptions," the researchers conclude, "furries and bronies are relatively indistinguishable from one another beyond the differences in the content of their fandom."

8) What kind of people are furries?

Fur-suiters before a rehearsal of the musical Furry Tales, the night before Anthrocon 2007. (GreenReaper)

Surveys suggest that furries are overwhelmingly male and white, are disproportionately likely to be gay, bi, or trans, and skew younger, with an average age in the mid-20s.

The 2012 survey synthesis estimated that 79.2 to 85.7 percent of furries at conventions were male, as were 78.3 to 84.6 percent of furries active online. A majority were atheist (44.36 percent) or agnostic (9.47 percent); 23.19 percent identify as Christian, 3.94 percent as Pagan, 1.91 percent as Wiccan, and 13.72 percent as "other."

Convention attendees were a bit older (24 to 27.1) on average than online furries (23 to 25.6) but in both cases the group skews quite young. Perhaps reflecting that, only 3.8 percent of furries have one or more children, according to survey evidence. Furries don't make significantly more or less money than the general US public and tend to be significantly more left-leaning politically. And they're much likelier than the public at large to report a non-straight sexual orientation, with well under 30 percent reporting exclusive heterosexuality:

(International Anthropomorphic Research Project)

A later study, conducted in early July 2014 at Anthrocon, found that almost 90 percent of respondents identified as white.

9) Do furries think they're animals?

It's complicated. About one in three furries report feeling not 100 percent human. A small fraction (8 to 14 percent) report meaning this in a physical sense, with many more stating they feel not fully human mentally or spiritually. About 38 to 53 percent report a desire to be 0 percent human, if they could be.

Furries and other people who identify as non-human in some substantial degree are known as "otherkin." "Therians" are otherkin who identify with, in whole or part, an actually existing species that live or have lived on Earth (wolves are the most common). Some reserve the term otherkin for those identifying as fictional or fantastical creatures (dragons, vampires, etc.) while others use it as a catch-all term.

Some researchers have suggested that the existence of otherkin and therians suggest these people could have a "Species Identity Disorder," modeled after "Gender Identity Disorder," which is used by psychiatrists to classify trans people. (Many trans people argue that the classification of gender dysmorphia as a disorder is stigmatizing and counterproductive.) Critics have responded by arguing that the analogy obscures more than it enlightens.

Sours: https://www.vox.com/2014/12/10/7362321/9-questions-about-furries-you-were-too-embarrassed-to-ask

Furry fandom is a big (and radically misunderstood and misrepresented) tent, covering not only those who identify with animals—fictional or real—but anyone who appreciates anthropomorphic critters, too. Furries express their affinities through everything, from art and literature to roleplaying on forums and in person as various "fursonas." But by far the most conspicuous and best-known elements of the fandom are fursuits, the humanoid animal outfits some furries don to more fully inhabit a fursona. Although far less ubiquitous in the fandom, and far less often overtly sexualized than shows like CSI and outlets like Vanity Fair have made them out to be, fursuits are still prominent in the culture. Longtime intra-fandom journalist (and fursuiting husky dog) Patch O'Furr refers to them as "the theatrical soul of furry," acknowledging that, since the mid-2000s, they have become "the furry thing."

Yet while most now recognize furries by these suits, few outside the scene think about where said suits come from. You might assume they're repurposed mascot costumes—but you'd be wrong. Fursuits are, you'll notice upon close inspection, better fitted and intricately crafted, made for show and individuality. Which raises the question: Who's pumping out all of these bespoke and often exceptionally well-executed suits, crafted just for furries?

The history of the fursuit is relatively short; just a bit over 30 years old, technically. (More on that in a bit.) The big makers who have emerged from this young part of the scene are folks like Mixed Candy, Don't Hug Cacti, One Fur All, and Made Fur You, all of which have turned this tiny culture into a viable enterprise. Another of these notable fursuit makers is Phoenix. A furry herself (she dresses as a purple malamute), Phoenix started making suits in 2008 at age 15 and now runs The Phoenix Nest, a Minnesota-based, hand-crafted fursuit maker with an extraordinary eye for detail—"carefully made with both appearance and durability in mind," their site reads. "We are very excited to bring your adorable critters to life!"

Phoenix, who believes her operation is about average-sized for an established maker, says she takes fursuit commissions once a year. "Around 200 submissions," she said. She accepts around ten, citing time as an issue; but as a sought-after maker, she has the freedom to work with customers based on how well their ideas gel with their own sensibilities.

Every maker has his or her own style and process. Some only model their suits on real animals and opt for naturalistic features, while others go more fantastical or cartoonish. The price of suits can vary widely, but a hand-crafted, professional made fox or hound or unicorn (or whatever you want) full suit usually runs between one and three grand at the very least. According to Dogpatch Press, a furry news site, $4,500 is "a general high range for standard commissions."

And entrepreneurial crafters have come up with all manner of add-ons that drive prices way up. You can add cooling or camera and audio systems, hyper-realistic eyes that follow people around, eyelids controlled by magnets, or jaws that move at will. For evidence of this, one need look no further than this highly specialized cheetah made by Primal Visions, which features an arduino system that moves the eyes and mouth, and triggers growls based on bio-feedback. Purchased by a furry named Spottacus in 2014, it cost a whopping $17,500. And Spottacus isn't done quite yet—he's currently eying a design that costs $25,000, a pretty penny for a cheetah.

"I'm told Hollywood FX stuff, like with animatronics and more, can add at least a zero onto the highest fursuit prices," said O'Furr, which means some may hit six-figures after full modding.

This is extraordinary when you consider fursuits have not always been a part of the fandom, which sprouted out of underground comic and zine circles in the '60s and '70s and coalesced in the '80s, with furries initially circulating zines and letters. The term wasn't even coined until 1993. A proto-suit made an appearance at the first ever furry convention, ConFurence 0 in Costa Mesa, California, in 1989: Hilda the Bambioid, the brainchild of a Disney mascot wearer and crafter named Robert Hill, based on a popular sexualized anthropomorphic character of the fandom era. But the next few conferences saw, as furry historian (and non-suited fan) Fred Patten recalls, no fursuiting, not even another Hilda sighting. Instead, the furries of the early '90s wore costume tails and ears, which they may have picked up by overlapping with the nascent anime and sci-fi fandom convention circuits.

However furries with mascoting cred (like Hill), Hollywood costuming experience (like Lance Ikegawa), or just a strong desire to inhabit their fursonas by applying some tailoring and crafting skills, puttered away, and slowly started gaining attention. By the mid-'90s, their suits were crude. But they'd started to get some play in the community. Around the same time, the furry convention circuit expanded and the nascent internet banded the fandom together, facilitating the spread of ideas.

"Once it got going," said Jurann, a polar bear in the fandom since 1994 who got his first suit around 2000, "within a couple years, you had people promoting themselves as fursuit makers and making a suit every month or two."

These early makers practiced intense experimentation, informing each other of their techniques and putting out how-to guidesfor newbies, the ultimate being Critter Costuming, a 2004 manual by Adam Riggs, a.k.a. Nicodemus Rat.

Some folks still use these guides to craft their (often low-quality) suits for cheap. But by the mid-aughts the craft had become so specialized and demand within the fandom was high enough that a few makers were able to turn fursuit crafting into a living.

From then on, many suit makers, Phoenix included, have operated on a commission model, with furries sending in either specific designs or open-ended requests to designers. If a maker takes on a design, or agrees to invent something, they request specific measurements to use in creating a perfect fit. Most makers offer partial suits, which just include a head, tail and paws; three-quarters, which add on hip-to-feet bits and are often worn with a baggy shirt or jersey mascot-style; or full-suits, the most visible and best known of the lot. The suits take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to painstakingly handcraft every element of the suit from scratch.

Several fursuitreview sites have sprung up to help furries find their ideal style, but also to weed out unoriginal, fly-by-night, or otherwise sub-par suit makers. "There can be high turnover," said O'Furr, especially as people dipping a toe in the industry realize how much labor is involved, and how hard it can be to develop a style and a following. But the suit watchers I've spoken to suggest there are a few hundred makers active at any given time, about a hundred of whom have some longevity and enough business to stay afloat. Only a few dozen can command high prices and have earned a great deal of respect within the scene.

Beyond those tiers, there's also a huge market for designs made sans commissions by big makers, or for used suits, on auction sites like FurBuy, which emerged as a community-focused alternative to cavernous eBay. At any given time they have up to 200 suits up for auction. Smaller auction sites and venues like Etsy also have a few suits for sale at any time. And furry conventions always have in-person sales areas, Dealer's Dens, featuring suits.

Taken together, this suggests many thousands of suits are created or change hands yearly, amounting to millions in sales.

"People are constantly getting new characters and fursuits," explained Phoenix of the perpetual market, especially those with novel designs or mods. "Some people have a dozen fursuits of different characters."

There's also a ready market for fursuiting skills outside of the fandom. "As fursuits have gotten higher and higher quality, and fursuit makers have made a name for themselves, they've been approached by sports teams to make their mascots as well," said Jurann. That seems to be true of municipal agencies and other organizations as well.

But the market is also bolstered by the perpetual growth of the fandom—and suiting specifically. New conventions spring up across the world almost weekly, notes scene expert Fred Patten, and social stigmas weighing down furries have finally begun to fade a bit. Most new furries are in high school or college according to Jurann, so they'll likely have even more to spend on suits moving forward. And more of them will likely buy suits than in the past, with the possibility of multiple purchases. Patten suspects media coverage focusing on fursuits has exposed more people to furry fandom and will likely increase their popularity, much like cosplay-focused coverage of anime, comic, and sci-fi conventions has built norms around dressing up.

Because of these factors, suit making will likely grow not just in volume but also complexity and expense. "The fursuit market will continue to grow," said Patten. So if you're looking to buy a fursuit, get it now. It'll only get crazier and more expensive with time.

Follow Mark Hay on Twitter.

Tagged:Fetishmascotsartisanfursuitshand crafted

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Fursuit

Costumes worn by members of the furry fandom

A large group of fursuit owners (fursuiters) at Anthrocon2010.

Fursuits are custom-made animal costumes owned and worn by cosplayers and members of the furry fandom, commonly known as "furries"; a furry who wears a fursuit is called a fursuiter.[1]: 13  The term is believed to have been coined in 1993 by Robert King. Unlike mascot suits, which are usually affiliated with a team or organization, fursuits represent an original character created by their wearer, and are often better-fitting and more intricately crafted, with features such as a moving jaw.[2] Fursuits are made in a wide range of styles, from cartoonish to highly realistic.

History[edit]

The concept of a fursuit can be traced decades prior to the term "fursuit" ever being coined, to at least as early as 1947, with a German Shepherd dog suit being a core plot element of Edwin Corle's Three Ways to Mecca.[3] An early fursuit worn by former Disney mascot wearer Robert Hill, and based on the feminine character "Hilda the Bamboid", appeared at the first ever furry convention, ConFurence 0, in 1989, but most furries of the time simply wore ears and tails, influenced by their intersection with the anime and sci-fi fandoms. Fursuits did not become widely known until the mid-1990s and the rise of the Internet, which led to the spread of ideas on costume making.[2]

Most early fursuit making was done by the suit's owner using guides released by members of the community, with one of the most prominent being Critter Costuming, a 2004 manual by Adam Riggs. However, by the mid-2000s, the demand for high-quality fursuits was high enough that fursuit making became a viable business.[2] Furries began to commission specialized makers with their custom designs or open-ended requests. Including used suits, the industry now sells millions of dollars worth of suits each year, and organizations such as sports teams are increasingly commissioning custom-made fursuits for their mascots.[2]

Fursuit construction[edit]

A reference sheetused as part of the design and build process for constructing a fursuit.

Fursuits originated due to the dissatisfaction with the quality of mass-produced mascot costumes.[4] Fursuit making is a growing industry, with new costume makers who handcraft custom suits entering the market every week.[5] A few dozen of these makers are highly respected and command prices up to $4,500 or more for a full suit, while there are several hundred more who charge less, usually between $600 and $10,000.[2] Some of these, however, are "fly-by-night" operations or make suits of sub-par quality, leading to the proliferation of fursuit review sites to weed them out.[2] There is heavy turnover of these smaller makers, with only a third of them able to stay afloat, due to suit-making being labor-intensive, and requiring a unique style and a following.[2]

People also sometimes make fursuits from scratch as a hobby without opening a business themselves.[6]

In order to make them fit correctly, many fursuit makers utilize "duct tapedummies" that are made of the wearer's body.[7] They are made with faux fur that is sometimes sourced from places like the Los Angeles Fashion District.[5] A single suit can take more than 200 hours of work and sell for thousands of dollars.[5][8][4]

Fursuits can be expensive to clean,[9] although many modern-day suits are machine-washable.[5]

Types of fursuits[edit]

Besides the typical full-body suit, the partial suit, where the suit's body is substituted by normal clothing, is a popular variation. Three-quarter suits only include part of the body, like the torso or legs, appearing similarly to a funny animal character.[1][page needed] Quadsuits are one of the most challenging and expensive types of costumes to make, and involve the wearer walking on all fours with arm extensions to create the illusion of a real animal.[10] A plush suit is a suit that is made to look like a stuffed animal/plushie.[11] There are also fursuits made of other materials, such as spandex or latex.[12]

Fursuits can range from cartoon-styled to hyper-realistic.[4] The most popular animals for fursuits to be based on are dogs and big cats.[5] They may also be based on fictional animal hybrids.[5] Some suits may include integrated technology, such as LED lights and programmed expressive eyes.[5]

In culture[edit]

Fursuits are heavily associated with the furry fandom by the general public, despite the fact that only about 15 percent of furries own a fursuit, mainly due to their cost being prohibitively high.[6] They may also be seen as overtly sexualized due to negative coverage from shows like CSI, though this is typically not the case.[2] Furries who own a fursuit often base them on a "fursona", an anthropomorphic character that represents themselves.[4] Dedicated fursuiters may own as many as a dozen suits based on different characters.[2] Despite being stigmatized as "bizarre", many members of the furry fandom aspire to be society's highest earners, in part to afford expensive fursuits and associated furry art.[13]

Fursuits are usually worn to furry conventions such as Midwest FurFest and Anthrocon.[4] Some fursuits of existing characters are made for the purposes of cosplay and are worn to anime or gaming conventions. They are also worn in public, though this often requires a spotter or handler to ensure the safety of the performer from things like rowdy people, exhaustion or accidents due to limited vision.

Esports champion SonicFox became notable in the gaming community for participating in and winning fighting game tournaments while wearing a partial fursuit of their fursona created by fursuit maker Yamishizen. They later ordered two new fullsuits from the same maker.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ abRiggs, Adam (2004). Critter Costuming: Making Mascots and Fabricating Fursuits. Ibexa Press. ISBN .
  2. ^ abcdefghi"Who Makes Those Intricate, Expensive Furry Suits?". Vice. 2017-07-27. Archived from the original on April 21, 2020. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  3. ^Corle, Edwin (1947). Three Ways to Mecca. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce.
  4. ^ abcdeBrown, Meg (2017-03-26). "The Fursuit of Happiness". Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments. Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  5. ^ abcdefgWall, Kim (2016-02-04). "It's not about sex, it's about identity: why furries are unique among fan cultures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  6. ^ ab"'It's Not a Fetish': An Interview with One of the World's Leading Furry Researchers". Vice. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  7. ^"Furries Tell Us How They Figured Out They Were Furries". Vice. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  8. ^"'Furries' Descend On Golden Triangle". WTAE-TV. June 16, 2006. Archived from the original on July 3, 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-30.
  9. ^Maass, Dave (2007-10-07). "Fluff Piece". Santa Fe Reporter. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  10. ^Parker, Sydney (2015-07-09). "The Fursuit of Happiness: High Fashion in Furry Fandom". Racked. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  11. ^"Ordering".
  12. ^Sxaleworxhttps://web.archive.org/web/20180624154233/http://www.scaleworx.org/. Archived from the original on 24 June 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  13. ^"The one fur cent: inside the lives of the world's richest furries". www.newstatesman.com. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  14. ^Ashcraft, Brian (2020-05-04). "SonicFox Got Not One But Two New Fursuits". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved 2021-03-06.

External links[edit]

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