What is a Furry?

By Jacob A. Allen, @jacobaallen

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You may have heard the term “furry” before, but do you really know what it means or where it comes from? How about what does it mean in today's context? Do you need to own a fur suit to be a furry? Do you know what a fur suit is? Today, I’m going to answer these and a whole lot of other questions. I may even debunk a few myths and rumors about furries.

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Furry is a term used to describe a fan of anthropomorphic characters but it is also so much more than that. For reference, anthropomorphic characters are animals that have human-like personalities and characteristics. Furries have grown from a small group to a monster size fandom. It's one of the largest in today's society. It's not uncommon to know someone who is a furry. I’m guessing that your wondering where did furries and the furry fandom come from?

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The term furry comes from the early 1980s. It is highly disputed among fans as to who coined the term. However, furries have been around for far longer than that. Stories depicting anthropomorphic characters have been around as long as humans have been able to tell stories. In the early days of animation, anthropomorphic characters were commonly used to tell a story, but there was not really a fandom back then. The furry fandom really started to gain followers around the 1980s with the onset of newer anthropomorphic films such as Disney's Robin Hood and has continued to grow since then. Although most of these films did not gain fame or do so hot in the box office, they did introduce people to the fandom. This led to small group gatherings and the first furry convention was held in 1989. It was called Confurence 0. Nowadays, there are many furry conventions with Anthrocon and Midwest FurFest being the largest.   


The fandom really took off in the 90s and 2000's partly to do with most Saturday morning cartoons having anthropomorphic characters as their stars. For example, there's Duck Tales, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Ninja Turtles and many others. With the onset of the internet, furries from all over the world who used to be isolated started to gather together. In recent years, the fandom has had a new flood of fans thanks in part to popular films and shows like Zootopia, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic , and Sing all featured only anthropomorphic characters. Other shows like One Piece and RWBY have anthropomorphic characters in them.

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Now lets' talk about the people of the furry fandom. Being a furry is expressed in many different ways. With such a wide group of diverse people, furries express themselves from light stuff to extremes as many other fandoms do. Some draw anthropomorphic characters and some just enjoy watching and reading these types of shows and movies. Still others have taken a more literal approach with simple ears and tails which has sparked its own sub-genre with cat ears and fox tails being some of the most common. This is pretty light stuff when compared to fur suits.

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Some fans have even created their own Fursonas, an original anthropomorphic character that represents that person. Either the person draws it themselves or they commission an artist to draw it for them. Others have found furry drawings by an artist and use that as there Fursona. Some have taken this a step further with fur suits. A fur suit is a full-body role playing custom made suit similar to a sports team mascot. These highly detailed design suits are based on a person's Fursona. The suit is a time-consuming project to create. Often times, people who are not skilled in crafting and sewing will commission an artist to create the suit for them. The suits can cost from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on who made the suit and how long it took them to make it. The cost will include the buying of materials. If you are skilled at crafting and sewing, you can find tons of videos of how they are made on Youtube. A common place to find people role playing their Fursonas in their fur suit is at an anime convention which is found all around the world. It is important to remember to ask permission first if you wish to pet them, or hug them, or want to take a picture with them. Not everyone wants to be hugged by a random stranger. Be polite, there is someone under that mask.

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Like many different fandoms, there is a bunch of hate and meanness around the furry fandom from the people in it and from normies (people that do not know about it and that AFH is here to help explain it to). Besides the normal stuff like people hating others for being different than themselves, furries have gotten a bad reputation from early media coverage of the fandom. This has to do with “Yiff." “Yiff” is the sexual aspect of an anthropomorphic character. Basically, some people find an anthropomorphic character sexy. This has led many to believe that anyone who identifies themselves as a furry also falls under this very small part of the fandom. However, "Yiff" is only a very small part of the fandom. While this is how people outside the fandom see furries, inside the fandom, there are heated debates about what makes a person a furry. Many more extremist furries will say just having ears and a tail does not make you a furry. We at AFH do not believe that at all. Another heated debate is over cat girls or fox girls and which is better. While there are elitists, most furries are generally nice people who are just living their lives normally.