Recently, I went to a job interview where the interviewer has asked me if I have something "unique" that I have, which I responded that I don't. However, after that, I had something that popped into my head that would've made a great answer to that question. Later that day, I shared this with my dad, and he mentioned that costumes/mascots (fursuits) would be it for me, since the job requires looking after children and wearing these things would make them get a kick out of them, as it would (supposedly) entertain them a lot. (It is a job as a youth group leader at an organization. It involves watching kids as part of an afterschool program.)
After hearing about that, tons of crazy and mixed feelings were going through my head, such as anti-mask laws, reaction from others to public fursuiting (or wearing mascots/costumes out in public that cover the entire face), and knowing that he knows about this thing of mine sends chills down my spine. I've seen and read stories of people getting busted or harassed for public fursuiting and know about the stigma that surrounds the furry fandom/community. Additionally, I fear that I may be mistaken as a child molester or other things related to it that might end up getting me fired from my job. Even though I ask permission if I could do these things at a later time, I feel that my supervisor would view me differently in a bad way for even bringing it up in the first place. I also don't know what'll happen if other people knew about it, especially my relatives and friends, such as their reaction or a chance of bullying or discrimination for having it in the first place. I don't know if an anti-mask law exists where I live (the one where it's illegal to cover your face, not the COVID-related one).
Any thoughts about this? Should I have not shared this with my dad?
* * *
It is impossible to make generalizations as to how people will react to your being a furry. All people are different. Your dad, from what I can gather from your letter, doesn't seem to have a problem with your wearing a fursuit since he noted you could have talked about this at the interview. As for the rest of your friends and family, that has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
The same goes for fursuiting in public places, such as schools or elsewhere. This can be affected by everything from local laws and ordinances to policies at public parks. For example, you would not wear a fursuit mask into a bank or into a federal building such as a courthouse because you would be instantly detained. Things get a little complicated because of mask laws these days. Everyone is (or should be) wearing masks for health reasons. But a fursuit head covers everything and makes you even harder to identify. For this reason, no matter where you might be going, always check with the business or venue before you fursuit there.
As for the job as a youth group leader, you probably wouldn't fursuit all the time. However, you might offer to do so at a special event for the group, which can be fun and rewarding. Make sure, again, you always have approval from those in charge of any event before you fursuit.
Will you be subjected to harassment or bullying? Maybe, maybe not. Don't worry about it. You're entertaining kids for a good cause. If people have a problem with that, it is a reflection on them, not you. You are doing something nice for kids, and you are doing absolutely nothing wrong, so you should not give a crap what a bunch of twits say when they are just being bullies. Do not react to bullying or harassment. Just focus on bringing joy to the world and on being yourself.
Remember, normal people are boring. It's the weirdos and freaks of the world who make life special.
I think I've "known" I am a furry for the past several years, but, except for a few brief experiments, I've been denying it until about two months ago. One of those experiments created Vincent, my "fursona" (used loosely).
Vincent is, to put it bluntly, a bad person/wolf. While he originally started as a fairly standard me-but-with-confidence-and-fur character, as I played with his appearance and mannerisms, he began to take on a life of his own. That isn't necessarily a problem. One thing I like to do in TTRPGs is learn things about characters that I didn't know when creating them, except Vincent took on some of my worst traits, as well as a few I hope I don't actually have. In a word, he's "superior," which means he's kind of a manipulative bully, unwilling to see others as his true peers. I don't want to present myself as Vincent. However, I can't seem to get rid of (or change) the Vincent-concept.
(A bit of context that may or may not be relevant: I was kind of a bully as a kid, but out of ignorance from autism, not malice. Vincent seems malicious.)
Anyway, now I'm trying to define myself as a furry, and I'm having trouble coming up with a concept that resonates anywhere near as much as Vincent does (and is not a Vincent clone). Do you think I should just embrace Vincent as my fursona? If not, do you have any advice for "un-sticking" myself from Vincent and/or developing an alternative?
* * *
Thank you for your letter. Fursonas are truly a fascinating psychological phenomenon for many people. I mean, while often they can just be a way to have an avatar in an online RPG or to have some fun fursuiting, fursonas can also serve as an expression of who we are or who we wish to be.
For some furries such as yours truly, the fursona is how they envision their ideal self. Grubbs is modeled somewhat after Baloo, a bear who is friendly, laid back, easygoing, takes life in stride. This is quite the opposite of Kevin, who is often anxious, deadline-oriented, overworked, and fearful of what is going on in the world. I aspire to be more like Grubbs, an avuncular, kind of slobby bear, who likes to go fishing and wears tattered overalls (someday, I'd like to get some for my fursuit LOL). I've talked to a number of furs who feel as I do and whose fursonas represent their aspirations in life, too.
But fursonas can serve another function, which is to explore our inner selves. In the fandom, this often takes the form of exploring one's sexual identity in a way that is not tolerated by society at large. The fursona can serve as a shield to protect us from judgment, allowing us time and space to explore our inner feelings and desires.
Similarly, a fursona can serve as a platform onto which we project parts of our personalities for careful examination, and that, I feel, is what is occurring in your case. It is fascinating, really, that what you are doing is taking some aspects of yourself, removing them, and placing them into the fursona of Vincent. Vincent, then, takes on such characteristics as being a bully and feeling superior to others, which allows you to regard yourself from a distance, objectively.
Vincent, therefore, has become a useful tool for self-examination. My advice to you: keep Vincent for that purpose, but create a second fursona (or more, if you wish, there are no rules on this) and project onto them all the things that you aspire to be as a person. Make this second fursona someone you would admire and emulate. You might, too, consider a third fursona who is just there to have fun gaming and enjoying life.
Fursonas are wonderful things. They are a big reason why I love this fandom because it is so creative and because fursonas can be so personal and not just a way to dress up as a character already created by some corporate franchise.
Hope this helps.
Hey there, Papabear!!
I think this might be the third time I've written to you. I was able to follow your past advice, and it turned out really well!
On to the question.
Thanks to you, I was able to tell my parents about my interest in the furry fandom, and they are accepting of me! They just see it as a hobby, and are going to help me make a fursuit! But there are a few things.
I don't know if I should tell them about the sexual side of the fandom. I mean, almost all fandoms can get sexual, but the furry fandom is known exclusively for it.
And second, how do I tell them about me wanting to go to a furcon? There's one coming up in 2022, but it's really close to my sister's birthday, and I feel like they'll say no.
Normally, I would be fine with that, but the con coming up is the only one in my state scheduled next year.
What do you think I should do?
* * *
Dear Candy Bear,
I'm glad to hear that your parents are being pretty supportive of your furriness.
When it comes to sex in the fandom, you should certainly know that the furry fandom was designed for adults, not 13-year-olds such as yourself. Neverthless, many young kids are attracted to the fandom because it is fun and creative and playful and they like the idea of pretending to be an anthro animal.
The way to avoid any upset on your parents' part when it comes to adult imagery is to make certain you are 100% transparent with them. That is, you don't hide anything you do online or on your phone. Indeed, you should encourage their supervision of your activities. It is not just the fandom that has X-rated stuff. It is all over the internet.
Do your parents monitor what you do online now? They should, but whether they do or not, you should have a sit-down discussion with them about online porn, trolling, and child predators. Have an honest discussion about this. They will likely feel you are very mature and smart for doing so. What you say is, basically, this: "Mom, Dad, we all know there is a lot of bad stuff online. Some of it is pretty scary. I want us to talk about it and I want you to help me stay safe online, including in chat rooms and stuff. There is a lot of porn out there and also I have heard there are adults and mean kids who like to bully you and even threaten you. I want to talk to you about how I can keep safe online and still have fun talking to friends and doing my hobbies and doing stuff for school."
I think they will be proud of you for opening such a dialog. In the meantime, keep away from furporn. That means, for example, stay away from websites like FurAffinity, which is filled with X-rated art. Maybe stick with furry chat groups on, say, Facebook, which has strict policies against sexual imagery and harrassment.
When it comes to cons for someone your age, of course it is best to have your parents there with you. That said, I'd like to suggest you try a virtual furcon first. There are many of them, especially since the onset of COVID. One going on right now is Furality, which uses VRchat. Oh, and you might want to sign up for VRchat anyway. It's cool. Here is a list of online furcons you can check out: https://en.wikifur.com/wiki/List_of_online_furry_conventions. The beauty of that is that you don't have to travel!
Now, to participate in a con (online or not), you'll need to register, so you will likely need your parents' help with money (cons are anywhere from $30 and up) and also get them to sign a consent form, probably, because you are a minor. Hopefully, they will do that, and, again, encourage them to watch over you. A virtual con is much cheaper than a real-world con because there are no hotel or food or travel expenses. It's a nice introduction to furcons. Eventually, though, you will want to go to a real, brick-and-mortar furcon, but let's leave that alone for this coming year and address it in 2023.
Oh, and have fun at your sister's birthday. Cherish these times with your family. Sisters and brothers are great. I love my sister so much, and I hope you do, too!
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.