Dear Papa Bear,
Last night, the 19th of October, I watched a special on Independent Lens from PBS, and it was called "Feels Good, Man." It was about the history of Pepe The Frog and how he changed the meme world forever. I was ashamed to find out his innocent, bro-like nature was manipulated by people from MySpace and others sites into an atheistic, insidious hate symbol. You know I love to draw clean fat art of cartoon birds, so that's why I'd like to ask you this question: Why do people try to pervert simple, innocent, even Christ-like memes into outright abominations? ... I prayed for Pepe's creator - Matt - and I hope he's learned to ignore such devastating lies and move on to greater things in his life.
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Have you ever heard of Rule 34? Rule 34 states, basically, that everything is eventually turned into porn. Whether it is Star Wars or Star Trek, Disney films, Cartoons, TV shows, novels, pretty much anything, there is a porn version of that, and that includes "Christ-like memes." So, it isn't that people are attacking innocent or Christian-themed art or whatever; they target literally everything.
Why? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but because people are horny a lot of the time and are looking for novel ways to get off. It's not rocket science. Also, sex sells, and things that are particularly naughty (e.g., things that are supposed to be innocent and pure but are corrupted) tantalize and tickle the prurient interests of the libidinous.
In the case of Pepe, it was not anything personal. And I believe most artists and other creators know this. When you create art, you will be subjected to criticism, parody, mocking, and satire, and the more successful you are at your art, the more likely you will be to become a target.
Another reason for this, especially when it does not involve porn but some other kind of spoof or criticism, is because of envy. People who are envious of the successful like to tear them down, and mocking is a good way to do this. They want to bring the artist down to their level so they don't feel bad about their own mediocre, uninspiring lives. Its the same reason why we have trolls and hackers. People who lack imagination, success, and creativity crave attention, and the only way they can do this is through being destructive. Horrible? Yes. Yes, it is. But that's how people are. They crave attention and validation, and if they can't do it by being a positive force in the world then they will do it by being a negative one.
Don't let it get to you. It's just how people are. That's why I'm a bear and not a human ;)
I want to escape myself. I feel trapped inside this damn shell of a human that is myself. I'm cursed with autism and I just can't take it: the sensory overload, the harder time learning, the fact I will never be understood properly or understand others. It feels painful. I find myself on the ground begging for it all to end, frequently, but I know I can't fix anything. I just wish there was a clear way out. What can I do to just stop feeling like this and become a normal human and not what I am right now?
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Thank you for writing. I know several friends and a family member with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and many of them are in the furry fandom. The bad news is that autism is not a curable mental condition. The GOOD news is that there are ways you can help yourself feel and function better in the world. One of them is to interact more with animals, and another is connecting to the furry fandom!
There have been numerous studies that show that people with ASD benefit greatly from owning pets, whether that pet is a dog or a cat or even a guinea pig, gerbil, or hamster, or big animals such as horses (there are a number of nonprofits that teach kids to ride and socialize with horses). Pets offer unconditional love and are not judgmental, which eases the stress of interacting with them versus with a human being. They offer comfort and physical touch, which are also very soothing and beneficial. They teach you about how to care for another living being, too, making sure they have healthy food, exercise, and medical care when needed. This, in turn, has been shown to improve social interactions with human beings as a result, whether they are peers in the classroom, family members, or people at work. You can read more about this at the Human Animal Bond Research Institute page at https://habri.org/research/child-health/autism/.
In a manner similar to human-animal bonds, people with ASD who interact in the furry fandom have had similar positive results. I believe that this is because of two reasons: the association of furries with animals and the generally welcoming and nonjudgmental environment of the furry family. Being a furry can be helpful because of the way that having a fursona or a fursuit or both can help create a safe buffer between people that eases the stress of social interaction and communication. When you are interacting as your fursona, you feel the relief of not being you for a while and being who you would really like to be. People with ASD have also commented that wearing a fursuit is comforting, like being wrapped in a protective blanket.
Although I don't have ASD, I can attest to this effect, too. For example, when in fursuit I was able to do karaoke on stage at a furcon, something I would be too self-conscious to do as myself. It sort of gives me a little insight into how this would work for someone such as you, BX3.
What can you do to "stop feeling like this" then? If you don't have a pet, I would highly recommend you get one (I prefer dogs myself, but whatever you enjoy is fine). I think you would also do well to interact with the furry community while in your fursona character. Both of these things can go a long way toward easing stress and improving your ability to interact with others in social situations.
I'm transgender, MTF, and have started transitioning at least to the best of my ability given the Covid-19 situation. So here is the problem I'm facing due to the current situation in the world: I don't know how to handle it as I'm struggling to find the help or start hormone therapy, or even if I even need to actually go onto hormones to be transgender. Every site I've looked at only ever mentions going onto hormones to be considered trans, so I don't even know if I'll be accepted as female if I'm for whatever reason unable to do hormone therapy. Even though I'm trying my best to present as female. (But I've still been misgendered several times, which I can only assume is because I still "look and sound" male, which has been stressing me to no end on how to even handle that).
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Thank you for asking a very important question that may help others who read my column. Let's get down to it.
Just like people who think all furries wear fursuits, there is an assumption among the public that all transgender people get surgery and/or hormone therapy. This is false. There are a lot of people just like you who do not go for medical options. This can be for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are unable to afford hormones or surgeries. Perhaps they have other medical problems that prevent them from doing so safely. Or perhaps they simply don't want to put their body through a medical procedure. These are extremely personal decisions, and there is no right or wrong answer. You must do what is best for you.
Are you trans if you don't have surgery or hormone therapy? If you feel that your physical sex does not match the real you, then yes, you are trans. Your true self lies within you and how you feel. It is not subject to public opinion.
Assuming that, even if you do want hormone therapy, you are unable to pursue it at least for the time being, what else can you do to be trans? Your third option is called "social transitioning." That is, you change yourself outwardly in things that can be easily perceived by society. One obvious thing you can do is change your appearance--your hair, your clothes, your makeup, etc. Next, you can change your name (you can do this legally online for very little money at websites such as totallegal.com, which charges like $30 to do the paperwork), and you can insist on people referring to you with the appropriate name and pronoun that suits you. Finally, you need to look into all your legal rights in your state, which might require you to do some paperwork, depending on where you live. Check out this page https://transequality.org/know-your-rights for more on that.
Finally, related to the last part of your letter, try to build a network of support, including friends, family, and professionals (anyone from doctors, nurses, and therapists to ministers and other counselors). I recommend you check out the National Center for Transgender Equality at transequality.org to get further advice and support.
I got into the furry fandom about 6.5 months ago. Ever since I joined I always wanted to have a fully drawn out fursona, Tippy (Deer/Buck), but I’ve never had the art skill to do so. I recently have been super interested in getting a reference sheet via commission. But, I have a bit of a problem, I have no idea what I’m supposed to say/do when it comes to telling them how I want it to look. I don’t wanna be to vague so it doesn’t look right or way to complicated to the point where they don’t know what to do. If you have any advice about the proper way I should communicate my thoughts into their drawings I’d be so grateful!
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Good question, and thanks for submitting it. This is how I handled communications with the ref sheet artist for Grubbs. When talking with the artist, think of the drawing in terms of what the fursuit maker will be sewing. Figure out all the things the fursuit maker will be doing and then describe those to the ref sheet artist.
First, decide the overall feel of the character. Are you going for a highly realistic anthro, or something cartoony?
Do some research on fursuit makers based on fursuits you've seen and what appeals to you with a maker's style. If you have already chosen a maker, point out some of the fursuits they made that you want the ref sheet artist to emulate (artists have their own style, of course, but a good artist can emulate other styles). You can also suggest looks you like from movies, TV shows, and cartoons. For example, when I was coming up with how Grubbs should look, I told the maker, Beastcub, that I thought the bear suits in Disney's The Country Bears were superb and I wanted something along those lines.
What is the overall personality/occupation you are trying to convey? Is this going to be a fat furry? Skinny? Will clothing be worn or will the fursuit be skyclad (naked)? Perhaps armor will be worn because it is a warrior, or a wizard's robe, or there will be jewelry or native wear. Maybe your fursona is a tomb raider or a gamer or an athlete. Maybe they are a musician or skateboarder (maybe you want inline skate wheels installed in the feet! I've seen that... cool!).
Pick out particular features that you want. Do you want realistic eyes made of glass or acrylic, or do you want cloth mesh? Do you want horns or wings or something animatronic? Do you want soft claws or perhaps something made of polyurethane that looks real. Where do you want the zipper (back or front)? Do you want a detachable tail? Should the ears wobble or be static? Do you want a moveable jaw so you can appear to be talking? Should the fur be shaggy or short or felty? Or do you need claws or feathers? Hooves on the feet but human hands? See if the maker has options for how the head is constructed (there are various approaches to head construction (foam heads are more typical of cartoony heads, while resin is often seen in more realistic heads). Ref sheet artists often don't go into mechanical details, but if you can get them to sketch out a lot of the specifics, it can be helpful to the maker.
The ref sheet should, obviously, have a color palate. Make sure you are clear on everything from fur color to paws to claws to eyes to nose to inner ear, etc. etc. etc.
A ref sheet is essential because this is where you work out all the details of your fursona before it goes into production (much cheaper to correct things in a drawing than after it has been sewn!). So, take your time and make sure you have exactly the look you are going for before you give the okay to the maker to start sewing!
Hope this answers your question!
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