I am a person who's been in the fandom for at least four years and I'm now getting my very own fursuit! But- unfortunately, I do not know the proper things needed whilst having a suit and proper fursuiting etiquette. The most I know about it, is not deheading in public and needing a lanyard with a badge on it. I'd love ta know more so I can participate in an upcoming convention the right way!
Much love and bear hugs,
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Congratulations on your upcoming fursuit! And thanks for your question.
Fursuiting has changed a lot since I first started doing it over a dozen years ago. Back then, the rules (or, really, traditions, which basically arose from the fact that a lot of early fursuiters had worked at places like Disneyland) were much more rigorous. For example, most fursuiters believed you should never talk while in fursuit or reveal the fursuiter underneath the fur for any reason other than you're about to overheat if you don't dehead right away.
This is not so much the case today. I regularly see fursuiters take their heads off in public instead of in the fursuit room at cons, and there is a thing now called "poodling" that we would never have done back in the day. Poodling is when you just wear a head and paws and you allow your arms and even your legs or belly to be seen. The reason these things were frowned upon in the past is that fursuiters felt it spoiled the illusion that you were your fursona. If you ask a young fursuiter today if that is true, they will deny that it affects this illusion. Now, I understand why some people poodle because a full fursuit can be very hot. However, the problem is easily solved simply by wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts. I do feel that deheading in public and poodling are not really in the spirit of fursuiting, but since this old bear is not in charge of how fursuiters behave, I'm not going to police them. Me, I stay in full suit because I want to be 100% in character. But what you do in this regard is up to you.
There are no rules other than make sure you do not overheat and that you have access to water. All cons have a "headless room" or "fursuit room" where you should go if you need to dehead, get some water, and sit by a fan. Fursuiters and their handlers are allowed in these rooms, but not other people (this goes back to the tradition that we don't want to spoil the illusion, but also because fursuiters need a lot of room to relax and you don't want a lot of people wandering about getting in the way).
The next thing you want to do is to have a handler, especially if you are new to fursuiting. Because visibility is a problem in most fursuits, it is easy to trip on stuff. A handler helps guide you through the hotel or wherever you might be to avoid this. Handlers can also warn off overenthusiastic people who try to hug you or pull on your suit without permission. It also helps if you familiarize yourself with your fursuit location before you suit up. Do a walk-through and get to know where tables, chairs, pony walls, and other obstacles may be. Oh, and be very careful on any stairs and escalators. When it comes to hotel elevators, remember that fursuiters are allowed to get on first (after any people with disabilities and the elderly or ill).
Next: Performance! Get into character when fursuiting! Don't just amble about like a guy in oversized SCUBA gear. Get into it. Remember to exaggerate your gestures so that they are expressive and easy to see. If you choose to talk in fursuit, maybe do so in your character's voice. If you don't talk, then it's even more important to do a physical performance. Remember, people will want to take pictures and give hugs. It's up to you whether you want to allow this, and you can politely say or gesture to them that you don't care for that if that is the case, but for me, the hugs and posing for pics are the best parts of fursuiting.
Oh, and yes, do remember to wear a con badge. That's true whether you are in suit or just a regular attendee. When you are putting on your suit, it can be easy to forget! So, don't! Put on your body first, then the lanyard, and then your head in that order.
Those are the highlights. If you have more questions, feel free to ask. Have a great con!
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