Hey there, Papabear!
I'm a 21 year old furry guy, who's been somewhat involved in the fandom for about six years now, and am looking to get more involved. I'm afraid that my problem is a bit abstract and personal in nature, but I hope that you'll be able to give me your opinion on the situation.
I've always been something of an "artiste." Creating things is just part of my DNA, I think, and I'm always really connected to my work, even if my skill level isn't exactly great yet. Creating work that I'm not "feeling" strikes me as very dishonest and distasteful.
I discovered the furry fandom in late 2008, through a small-time PC game mod, of all things. I was immediately hooked, and happily set about the task of mentally transforming me and all of my friends into a colorful cast of critters. I was putting out more artwork than I ever had before! I knew about the fandom's rather unsavory reputation going in, so I got it into my head that I was going to be the Last, Best Hope of the Furry Fandom. I would be the one to prove, once and for all, that we weren't all just pasty social outcasts banging each other in dog suits!
Of course, It's been nearly six years since then, and you've never heard of me, so we both know how that plan went.
Now that I'm older, and a bit more honest with myself, I actually feel that I want to begin branching out into more adult themes in my artwork. I've been attracted to overweight and even obese women for most of my life, and this has been finding expression recently in my artwork. Yep, I'm a fan of Fat Furs. I feel like a freak. I'm impossibly different. And I'm very afraid of my own sexual drive. I hate it. I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I feel alone in this, and like everybody else who shares my proclivities is a dangerous pervert I shouldn't be within five hundred yards of. I'm well aware of how ridiculous that opinion is, since I am one myself, but the fear and distrust is nearly impossible to shake. On the other hand, I LEGITIMATELY want to start drawing this stuff! How I can hold such blatantly conflicting opinions at the same time is simply beyond me, as is how I can be so afraid to be myself in such a notoriously accepting community!
But I also feel that I'm betraying the fandom in a way, becoming "just another" yiff artist that people can point to when they argue we should all be wiped from the face of the earth. The fandom is very dear to me, and I certainly don't want to hurt it or anyone in it. So, Papabear, I ask you - what do I do? Do I go through with it? Do I hold back and continue drawing more "normal" stuff? Do I bow out of the fandom entirely? How can I possibly make peace with myself?
A Conflicted Coyote
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Thank you for writing. This is a very important topic that I have occasionally touched on in the past, but now you give me the opportunity to be as frank and straightforward as I possibly can about sexuality and the fandom and my position on it, as well as my position on sexuality in general within American society.
I have struggled with this a lot myself. I am well familiar with the feelings of guilt and shame. On the one paw, I am a very—indeed, extremely—yiffy bear; on the other paw, I think the fandom could be a LOT more responsible about how this is handled online (specifically, by having all websites that have adult images put them in age-limited pages), and, too, we need to show that sexuality is only one aspect of being furry and that there is much, much more to the fandom than that.
Let’s talk about sexuality in general, first. You feel guilty about your fat fetish. But there is a wide variety of sexual fetishes out there, some more extreme than others, and yours is, actually, one of the tamer ones. You should not at all be ashamed that there is something about rubenesque women that turns you on. That’s simply what you enjoy, and it is no more odd than, say, a guy who gets turned on by a redhead more than a brunette. Don’t be ashamed of it. As you can see online, many people share your interest. Did you know, in fact, that chubby ladies were once seen as much more attractive than skinny ones? Also, it was preferred that ladies be pale of skin, not tan. The reason was that being well-fed and pale meant you were well off financially and didn’t spend your days working in the sun doing manual labor. People in previous centuries found that very attractive. Indeed, the word “rubenesque” comes from the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), who painted those chubby ladies, and many a man of his day probably got woodies staring at his art LOL.
There are people like you who have grandiose ideas of “saving” the fandom from adult artwork. That’s what the whole “burned furs” debate was about, and the only thing that movement accomplished was to create a schism in the fandom and a lot of hurt feelings and lost friendships.
To help furries on this issue, I have written ...
“5 Little Rules about Furporn”
Society is not going to collapse because there is furry porn on the Internet. If it did, we’d already be living in a post-apocalyptic world.
There are two big problems with human society on this topic: 1) those who enjoy things that are not deemed “normal” are too concerned about what other people will think of them, and 2) too many people think it is their business to tell other people how they should behave and what they should approve of as moral or despise as immoral.
Nothing pisses off this bear more than other people telling me how to live my life and judging me for my behavior when I’m not hurting anyone. So, Coyote, if you are not hurting anyone by drawing adult images of fat furs, go ahead and draw them. Stop worrying about your image or the image of the fandom. It is not your responsibility to “save” the fandom, and it will be here and thriving whether or not you participate in it. So stop worrying about what others think of you. Life is too short to be lived under the thumb of public opinion. Life is to be enjoyed to the fullest you possibly can, always remembering to respect the rights and feelings of others, but remembering that your rights and feelings are just as important.
(A note here about the American Furry Association: while the www.americanfurryassociation.org website will be furporn-free, the reason for this is because it will be accessible to all ages and therefore it was decided to keep it 100% clean; this does not mean that the AFA judges furries on their Web-surfing behavior.)
Coyote, don’t leave the fandom; don’t limit your artistic, emotional, or intellectual freedoms for fear of public opinion. Once you realize that allowing yourself to be happy is okay, you will make peace with yourself and, as I do, sleep well at night.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.