Hi, I really need help. At school I’m constantly bullied for being a furry, it has be happening for 4 months. A whole sixth-grade class will bully me when they leave the cafeteria. They supervisors helped on the 3rd month, but they still bully me. Whenever they walk past my lunch table I always get quiet and fell very uncomfortable. It has also been making extremely emotional lately. Do you have any advice?
Skyla (age 11)
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I won't ask how the entire school discovered you are a furry. They know, so now you need to deal with that. You have done the right thing by telling the school about the bullying (and I hope you have also told your parents). Keeping adults informed of what is going on is important. You should also keep track of bullying that happens to you, either by writing it down (include people's names when you know them) or taking pictures of video with your phone (if you have one). If you are being bullied online or on your phone, block all bullies. Do not interact with them; do not reply to them. Just block them. Bullies thrive on knowing they are bothering you, and they slink away like wounded weasels when they know they can't affect you.
This brings us to the most important way to fight bullying. It's not fighting, of course (if you are being physically threatened, report it immediately to the school, your family, and even police). No, the way to fight bullies is to show that what they do doesn't bother you. By this, I don't mean doing what you described where you "get quiet and feel very uncomfortable." That is exactly the kind of reaction bullies like because they know they are getting to you. Bullies do what they do because they can only feel better about themselves by putting other people down and making them feel bad. Groups of bullies (like that 6th grade class) bully a kid that they feel is weak; groups do this as a way to bond socially with each other (they have something in common in that they make fun of a kid they all think is below them). This is wrong, but this is how a lot of immature people behave.
If you feel confident about yourself and who you are, then bullies can't affect you. For this to work, you have to be comfortable with being a furry. Since you are just 11 years old, I have to guess that you are a furry because you simply enjoy cartoon and animated animals and like the idea of pretending to be like one of these characters, right? There is nothing wrong with that. Liking anthropomorphic (humanlike animal) characters is something that millions of children and adults enjoy. That's why animated movies like Sing, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and Zootopia are so popular, as well as cartoons like Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and PAW Patrol and book characters like Winnie-the-Pooh and the heroes in the Redwall stories. There are a lot of reasons why people of all ages like stories featuring animals who talk and act like people, but it would take too long to describe them here in this column, so let's just acknowledge that millions of people read and watch such stories.
If kids at your school ask you why you are a furry, just say, "Well, I just like cartoons and movies and stuff (like the ones I mentioned), like a lot of people do. I even bet you like them, too, right?" Ask them to mention some shows they like, and I bet at least some of them have furry characters in them. And if they ask if you pretend to be a character like that, just say that this isn't weird either. People dress up as monsters for Halloween or Marvel and DC Comics heroes at Comicon. People also like to play video games in which they pretend to be comic book heroes or even (shocking!) furry characters like Sonic, Angry Birds, Spyro the Dragon, Starfox, or Crash Bandicoot. Ask them if they have ever played one of these, and if they have, well, they have enjoyed a furry game!
Once you see that you have nothing to be ashamed about, then their teasing will be senseless and have no power over you. Now, I realize that part of the problem, too, is that you want to be accepted by your schoolmates and not mocked by them, right? Everyone wants to be accepted. But you should only want to be accepted by people who are dope. If you talk to people, you will get to know who is awesome and who isn't. Bullies are phony, and you don't want them as friends. If bullies tease you, my reply is always, "Wow, that would really hurt my feelings if I cared about your opinion or who you are." See, you have to take away their power. You do that by not caring who they are or what their opinions are. People who are mean just to hurt people are not worth your time.
To summarize, this is how to deal with this problem:
One last thing, if the bullying gets really bad, call the Stop Bullying Now Hotline at 800-273-8255.
Remember, the special people in the world are not normal. Dare to be weird!
Hi. 13 year old new furry here. I want to ask my dad if I can get a fursuit. He already knows I'm a furry from snooping on my computer and discord. I don't really know too much of how he feels about it. I also want to attend my local furry con in June. I am really struggling with this new liking. I also want to make friends with furries, but my dad recently made me completely log out of discord and other forums for (reasons) that I will not share here. I hope someone can help me out here!
Victor (age 13)
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Your father is trying to protect you from porn, of which there is a lot on furry websites, as you likely know. At 13, you are too young for such things. The furry fandom was created for adults, not children, but these days a lot of kids as young as 10 are discovering the fandom. It is attractive to them because it relates to many of the cartoons and animated movies young people enjoy watching, and the idea of becoming an anthro animal character can have a lot of appeal to the young imagination.
If you wish to continue exploring your furriness, Papabear's advice to you is that you stop hiding your internet and phone behavior and have an honest discussion with Dad because, at the tender age of 13, you are not going to be able to attend a furcon without his cooperation and support. You are likely going to have a tough time of this, honestly, because it sounds like you have been looking at furporn and possibly indulging in other unsavory behavior.
Furcons will only allow underage furries to attend if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. You can't just go by yourself or with a friend.
So, for you to get a fursuit (are you paying yourself or asking Dad to buy it, which will be even harder?) and go to a con, you are going to have to reestablish your connection with Dad. Indeed, you will need a verbal agreement with him to do the following: NOT look at furporn or engage in X-rated roleplay online and be completely transparent with your online and phone activities with Dad (no more hiding what you do; Dad must have complete access to your browser history and more). You will then need time to repair your relationship so that Dad trusts you to be honest with him. Seeing that this is January and the con is in June, I seriously doubt you can fix this in time for the next local furcon.
That said, all hope is not lost. With a lot of work and love, you may be able to get Dad on your side again. You can do this by discussing the fandom openly with him and by showing him such things as the documentary The Fandom by Ash Coyote, which is available free on YouTube here.
So, I have a friend group, and the "leader," let's call him Fred (not really), is purrfectly fine with furries (see what I did there?) and couldn't care less. However, if I tell him, the other, not so nice kids are bound to find out, like the notorious Steve (also fake) will go, and I quote, "You're f@&$ing a!$ stupid for being into that porn &h$!." And they will tease me about it. I don't know what to do! Please help! ;w;
Anonymous (age 12)
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Ah, group dynamics are a complex thing. After years (decades, really) of failing to belong to any groups myself, my approach now and forever more will always be to have friendships on a one-on-one basis. You don't have to be friends with everyone in that social circle, especially those who are going to act like "Notorious Steve." Don't worry about that. Why would you want to be friends with haters? Be friends with those who accept you for you, and the others can go take a long walk off a short pier.
This is a good time in your life to learn how to figure out which people are friend material and which ones are shallow and judgmental. If you learn this at the age of 12, you will be way ahead of most people in the world by the time you are an adult.
Remember, you were not put on this planet to get people's approval. You are here to lend a unique voice to the chorus of humanity. Your job is to learn who you truly are as a person and to live your life genuinely, truthfully.
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.