As a fursuiter myself, I have been faced with three responses from the people I tell about my hobby. The first one is confusion. People often have no idea what that might even mean. The second is interested, some people have at least a basic understanding of what being a furry is and want to know more. The third is disgust. These people saw something on TV and thing that all fursuits are used as sex toys; these people are difficult to convince otherwise.
Kaitlyn Kewlie of holds her fursuit head.
A fursuit is a costume, generally of an animal of some kind, similar to a school mascot outfit. All fursuits are handmade, as are all mascot costumes. They are often built on foam or resin bases and use a variety of types of furs and materials to create a memorable reproduction of a character. Making a fursuit is a long, difficult process and it takes a lot of practice to get good at it.
Fursuit pricing ranges greatly and it is based directly on quality. A starting fursuiter without much experience may charge as little as $400 for a full, completed costume, while an all-star movie-quality professional suit maker will start their prices at $3,000. The average price for a fullbody suit, which includes handpaws, feetpaws, a tail, the head, and the bodysuit is around $1,800.
Lauren Smaroff, owner of Twilight Grove Studios, is a local fursuit maker, who also makes parts for fursuits such as mask bases, jaws and claws made of resin, as well as silicone pawpads. “I had always dreamed of being a dragon thanks to the popular Disney show "American Dragon",” said Smaroff, “And in 7th grade I birthed the character which is now my well-known fursona, Drake. Being able to build her myself and experiment with new materials and ideas light my creative fire started it all.”
A fursona is someone’s furry-persona. It is a creature that often is representative of someone as an animal. A fursona can be any type of animal, real or not, ranging from a simple fox or wolf to a gryphon, a dragon, or any number of creative hybrid creatures. Dark-dragoncat, also known as Izzy Hamnqvist, a hobbyist fursuit maker and artist on FurAffinity, created most parts of her own fursuit.
“I'm more connected to the cat and dragon personalities. I also picked certain features I liked of other animals as I am a bit more personal when it comes to the design of my fursona. I "connect" with other animals as well, such as a bird, but, I don’t find that I have enough traits to dedicate myself to one animal,” explained Hamnqvist.
Andrea K. Fryslie in suit of her fursona, which she designed, Lodidah.
Despite what CSI might have shown in their episode about furries, fursuits are not sex toys. Those furries cannot be completely ignored, they do exist, but there are very strict “implied” rules when “murrsuits” (suits that are specifically made for having sex) are involved. There are no official laws or rules in the furry community, there is no way to back them up, but most members take them very seriously and breaking these rules can result in a version of public shaming (without the use of names, it is against the FurAffinity’s terms of service.)Public Shaming
According to the “Fursuiting Guide” on FurAffinity’s forums, murrsuits should NEVER be worn in public and if they are, clothing is generally worn to hide any embarrassing zipper locations. If a murrsuit is worn out, the wearer should not interact with children, which is a given.
The majority of furries only wear their suits for fun.
Pink Lightning | Dragoncat with Santa | Pink Lightning with friends | Audi striking a pose
Kewlie and friends | Jelli the Panda outside | Blaze dancing with Drake | Dragoncat with friends
The guide, linked above, is a detailed and straightforward treasure trove of information that clarifies almost everything one would need to know about the Do’s and Don’ts of fursuiting.
Prettany Overman, a sophomore at Hood College, isn’t a furry, but she has a lot of experience with being in costume. She is one of the main wearers of the college’s mascot Blaze. She has been acting as Elmo, Dora the Explorer, and Scooby Doo for parties and events since the sixth grade.
“Being in character is a stress relief,” said Overman, “For a brief time I can forget about my problems and take on the persona of a joy-filled character that has no worries except to dance and have as much fun as possible! In a way it allows me to be my true self without having to worry about what people think. They don’t know it’s me, so who can they judge? Seeing the children’s and even the parent’s reactions is priceless. I love feeling wanted by the kids. I make their imaginations real, and there is no other job that can fulfill that.”
One basic rule that fursuiters follow is the “handler” rule. Never go out without one! A handler keeps the suiter safe by warning them of uneven ground (including stairs) and incoming children or possible dangers. These people are essential to fursuiting because the people in the costumes cannot see as well as without the head- especially where peripheral vision is concerned.
Nicholas Castellano, another student at Hood College, is an amateur fursuit handler. “I’ve gone out a few times with my girlfriend while she is in suit,” Castellano said, “She can see fairly well in her costume but pretty much everything from the nose down is invisible to her. Mostly I just let her know when small children were trying to get her attention. It’s honestly fun. I thought it would be weird but people so far have been really friendly to her.”
Andrea K. Fryslie, also known as Lodidah, who owns her own small fursuiting business based in New York, got involved with the furry community because of her love for animals and anthropomorphic (animals with human characteristics) creatures.
“I found that once I was in the fandom that it was a very tight knit community that looked out for each other,” said Fryslie, “Regardless of any physical or mental handicaps or differences, they are accepting and open and love to meet new people and help others. And I know that sounds really cheesy and over exaggerated but it's completely true, if you get kicked out of your home or lose your apartment someone will house you, if you’re having money troubles, they will help support you. So in a nutshell [I joined] because not only are the creatures cute and fluffy, they're also kind of like family,” Fryslie explained in an email.
The furry community is indeed one of the most open-minded and accepting communities that can be found. There are individual groups of interests and niches within it but when brought together, they are all one big fluffy (sometimes scaly) family.