The Furry Fandom – One wolf’s guide to the world of Furries
What is the furry fandom, exactly? Ziggy Wolf’s guide to fursonas, fursuits and more. Furries unite! Non-furries – respect the interests of others and accept!
We`re all just animals…
What is a furry?
This is a simple question with several answers. A furry is simply a cartoon animal (think Bugs Bunny) or a creature who has both human and animistic qualities. This mix of human/animal qualities is called anthropomorphic – or anthro for short.
If a person has an interest in furries and identifies with them, this person is also called a furry.
There. So now you know what a furry is! Moving on…
The furry fandom
Okay, so these furries are more or less part of what is called the furry fandom. Unlike many fan communities who splash out on really expensive kit, the furry fandom is often quite DIY in its approach. Fans make many of the props, furry art and fursuits (I’ll explain later) themselves.
Having said that, the furry fandom has been hugely influenced by corporate cute-animal-creators like Disney, Warner Bros, Nintendo and the like. Furry artwork, comics and literature often bounces off creations by these big creative zaibatsus. Secondary to the furry art and literature are furry-inspired music and other means of creative expression. For the most part, the furry fandom is largely visual.
Furmeets and Furrycons
Most furries are content with just weiving, or making furry artwork or literature. Many furries attend so-called “furmeets” where furries gather to socialize, trade artwork, watch movies or simply grab a beer.
Furries exist virtually every everywhere on the face of the planet from the frozen tundras of the north to the sandy deserts in the south. Most likely there are a pair of them sitting in your local pub. Also, double-check those foxes nosing around your communal bins. They could just be super-creative types in a really good fursuit.
It is estimated that several million furries exist all around the world. Most furries are fairly young, between the ages of 14 and 30. Furries come from all walks of life, and often combine other interests with the furry fandom. So we have everything from punks, metal heads, bikers and ravers to gamers, soldiers, technicians, and (sigh) politicians.
Many furries also attend conventions. These are furmeets on a grand and organised scale, called furcons or furrycons. As with cosplay and comics conventions, much of the focus is on entertainment, dancing and exchange of merchandise.
A big event at any furrycon is, of course, the fursuit parade. A glorious sight to behold.
Furry fashion and the fursuit.
Many furries embrace a furry lifestyle to the full and this is reflected in their fashion, either worn privately or among friends. Furry fashion can also be worn subtly in public. Furries might wear collars, clothing depicting anthropomorphic creatures and sometimes even tails. Before you judge, think to yourself – hell, why not? Who hasn’t wanted a tail at some point in their lives, even for a brief and glorious moment? At last count, it can never be said that using arts and crafts to make yourself a tail ever actually hurt anyone.
Fursuits are basically animal costumes. Much like sports mascots, these fursuits are often hugely detailed and elaborate in construction and design.
Fursonas and Roleplay
Remember I mentioned the fursuit parade, a big event at any furrycon? Fursuits are full costumes made by a furry which are usually based on the person’s chosen “fursona” (see? Another addition to the furry vocabulary). Your fursona is basically a furry representation of yourself. It tends to be the animal that you personally identify yourself with.
While most furries are cute and cuddly, some furries are also a combination of both cute and something more intimidating. Like a dog for instance, wich you might want to pet, but could just as easily turn around and bite you.
These fursonas or characters are often used to express oneself in the furry fandom, both artistically (how good can you make your costume?) and through role playing (if you’re a wolf, what kind of a wolf are you? Cute? Growly? Act it out).
Furries, Shamanism and the Spiritual Connection to Animals
Many furries have a spiritual side to their involvement in the furry fandom. Many feel a spiritual connection to a certain animal, much like shamanistic tribes do. Some also use these anthropomorphized animals as totems to draw strength and inspiration from. Some furries even go so far to say they feel themselves to have the soul of a certain animal. We call these therantropes.
So, in this context, being able to act out one’s inner creature is for many a vastly spiritual experience, similar to the dream journeys of shamanistic societies.
Finally, there is the other, slightly taboo subject that many furries cringe at whenever it is uttered in the media. I speak, of course, of yiff.
Yiff refers to furry erotic material. It’s supposedly the sound a fox makes during mating. So there you go. You learn something new every day.
Many furries have been accused of being overly obsessed with sex. But a quick look at most of the major furry websites reveals that this amounts to a little over 35% of all the artwork out there. And it’s kinder not to condemn the creators of that 35% for being in any way ‘unusual’. Most other fandoms have hot stuff hidden in a dark cupboard somewhere. Take, for instance, all the ‘hentai’ out there, or the erotic stories about vampires (and let’s not forget that much of slash fiction – think Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson – is written by women as a fun bit of catharsis). It’s rule 34.
Basically, any fandom going will feature – for some of the fans – an aspect of sexuality. While yiff may seem a bit odd to some, in its base form it has existed for millennia, as artwork on ancient Greek and Egyptian pottery depicting figures with animal heads having sex. Similar finds have also been reported all around the world. Also, many myths and legends tell of anthropomorphic creatures engaging in sexual activities, such as satyrs chasing after nymphs, fox maidens luring off men in Japanese mythology and so on. So this is hardly something new.
But the form we largely know yiff in today is much derived from the funny animal comics from the 70s – think Felix the cat, Omaha the cat dancer and several books from the same period.
So what we now know today as the furry fandom started with the rise of the internet. Well, there’s a surprise 🙂
Why do people wish to become furries?
Well, the most obvious reason is escapism. The furry escape is a refuge from the mind numbing boredom of everyday life. For many, the idea of a sentient being other than humans is fascinating, as it is in sci-fi or fantasy. The vast diversity of different people from around the globe makes the furry fandom one of the most altruistic and accepting subcultures in the world. This is also one of the reasons it has grown in popularity over the last two decades.
This feeling of acceptance for one’s quirks is one of the furry fandom’s greatest strengths. Furries all around the globe unite through subculture, celebrating diversity. Much like punk, we furries create our own culture and go against the norms of established society. In our own way, we – like so many others – are striving towards positive and, indeed, furry social change.
Go on, do some furry art. You know you want to. See where it might take you. Fly free with your creativity!
Furry fan art: © Ziggy Wolf