Fursuit Magic

A few years back , I had the opportunity during a large convention to converse with a fursuiter whose talents and antics I admired greatly. Long ago, you see, before furry was much of an organized fandom I was a suiter myself. As we spoke, just a few feet away two dogs and some sort of feline were playing gently with a little boy and girl, whose eyes were as big as saucers. All was going well until another suiter– who I’ll very carefully fail to describe– walked up, took his head off, and asked one of the dogs when the F he was going to come back to the room. And that, needless, to say, ended that. In a flash the moment was gone and the offended parents were dragging their screaming kids away.

“There ought to be a law against that,” I muttered.

“Yeah,” my friend replied. “Abuse of magic in the first degree.”

For fursuits are magical, you know. Anyone who’s ever worn one in public understands this, all the way to the innermost depths of their soul. The human mind is built to function via the complex interaction of symbols, and few objects carry more symbolic weight than a ‘suit. Putting one on messes with your head – and those of others – by eliminating or masking all the cultural symbol-sets by which others understand at a glance who you are and how you fit in. Your hairstyle, your clothing, your posture and gait…even your face, the most important identifier of all, is whisked away. No one can even tell for sure if you’re male or female. All the social markers so vital to everyday hominid life are tossed to the winds, leaving all who see you adrift and in a state of vague unease.

The effect is double upon the suiter himself, however. When he looks in the mirror, he greets a total stranger. A blank slate, in other words, whose duty it is for him to fill out and bring to life. The “mask effect” is well known in psychological circles, so I won’t belabor it here. Suffice it to say instead that a good costume, particularly a whole-body one like most fursuits, is both liberating and exhilarating. For my own part, wearing one had the effect of sort of turning up the “contrast” knob on life. Everything became sharper edged, I grew more aware of my surroundings… Every second of every minute burned itself into my memory. I was alive, in short, fully and completely in a manner that I’ve never achieved in any other way. I wasn’t a very good fursuiter – in fact, I rather stank at it and that’s why I gave it up. Yet…those few hours I spent here and there in suit remain among the most intense memories of my life.

These mental/social identity-softening effects lie at the root of a fursuit’s magic, and also explain why it’s so powerful. Nothing affects how we see the universe more profoundly than our viewpoint, and nothing I can think of short of hallucinogens in massive doses does more to alter said viewpoint (on the part of the suiter and bystanders alike) than a fursuit.

This is particularly true of children, whose grasp on reality is still not yet all that firm to begin with. After all, are their TV screens not alive with capering animals who smile and laugh and play? The jump from reality to fantasy is much smaller for them, so that the mere sight of a decently-made fursuit can transport them into a sort of delightful alternate world.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I can hear my patient readers thinking just about now. “We all know that clowns and such have a special role in society, and that it’s wrong to break the illusion and ruin the magic.” But… As furries, I suspect we’ve grown a bit jaded to the wonder of it all. We tend to forget how powerful our magic is, like the unnamed fursuiter in my opening example, and abuse it with more terrible effects than we know.

Back when I fursuited, the only venues available were kid-related activities. The first major one I “worked” was playing the Easter Bunny at an orphanage for abused little girls. It was a pretty tough gig, because most of the residents were in their teens and thought a guy in a bunnysuit was about the uncoolest thing possible. But one little girl about six or seven years old – I’ll call her “Alice” – met me with wide eyes and asked “Are you a real rabbit?”

“Of course!” I reassured her. Then for the next hour she prattled on and on with me about what it was like to be a bunny while I improvised. “Of course I eat grass! But only cooked grass – I’m a civilized rabbit!” Then the Easter Egg hunt was finally held, and while Alice was off hunting eggs (she won!) the orphanage’s counselors closed in on me en-masse and demanded to know what I’d been talking to her so long and intently about. At first I was angry – it sounded like they were accusing me of something pretty terrible.

“No!” they explained. “It’s not that at all. You see, she was terribly abused about six months ago, and hasn’t said a single word to anyone since.”

When Alice came back with first prize she was still full of chatter, and when I left she was energetically telling her counselors all about me. Half of them were crying.

And so was I.

So… Fursuits are magic of a very special and sacred kind. No one will ever convince me otherwise. Not only that, but they’re potent. Those wearing them carry deep obligations to use their powers responsibly. Far too few seem to understand this, in my book.

And the fursuiter who used the F-word in front of children with his head off in public? He told me to F myself a few minutes later, when I tried to explain my concerns. It’s too bad that every story can’t have a happy ending.

About Rabbit

Rabbit Is the author of over thirty published furry novels and novellas as well as numerous columns and articles in other furry venues. He's a retired Tennessee auto worker.

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10 thoughts on “Fursuit Magic

  1. I know who that masked rabbit was. :D

    This is a great story, and a great argument for the “Protect the magic” rules that are promoted by many and disparaged by a few.

    My own experience with suiting has a slightly different angle. I built my two suits to represent characters about whom I’ve written extensively, and in some cases roleplayed online. So when I look through the mask into the mirror, I do know who it is I see, though he is not myself. Trying to live up to the personality and expected behavior standards of the character becomes a job not unlike acting on stage.

    Fortunately, both characters are fairly decorous.

  2. It “messes with your head”…”a vague state of unease”…You make these sound like they are positive, desirable effects to apply towards others. Sorry, but I’m afraid I am one of those for whom “The Magic” died a long time ago, and is never coming back.
    You speak of looking in the mirror at a “blank slate,” as if to say the current work is subpar and needs to be remade. Well, what about us that look in the mirror and, instead, see a masterpiece? What’s wrong with being myself? Why should I have to invent a character?
    A few months back, there was another fursuiter, who is held in high regard by many other furries, who remarked, “I consider the old trope of ‘It’s just me with fur’ something of a cop-out.” To which I asked–what am I “copping out” to? What am I compromising? The fursuiter simply dismissed my question by answering gruffly, “These are my opinions, my rules, my guidelines *I* live by.” He ended snidely with, “[H]ave FUN. Or…at least don’t be miserable.” (Ha, hardly!)
    Ironically, I do have a partial fursuit, although I actually made it as a costume entry for San Diego Comic-Con, before I had aligned myself with the furry fandom. Unfortunately, the submission queue was full, so I didn’t get to use it there. But it wasn’t long after when I did finally participate in furry things, and I reclassified my “costume” as a “partial fursuit.” And, although my partial is actually a homage to an actual cartoon character, I do intend to commission a fursuit of my own alfurnate (fursona). When people asks for photos of me in my partial, I may pose as the character does, but otherwise, I am still myself. And people seem to be just fine with that. I have participated in (non-furry) volunteer work in the past, and I’ve made people happy–no fursuit needed!

    I just don’t see what’s so “special and sacred” about fursuits. On the contrary, I’ve noticed some fursuiters act as though the sole fact of owning a fursuit gives them an exalted position. (Note the brush-off I was given by the aforementioned fursuiter.) Again, maybe it’s just me, but my partial is just another outfit for me to wear. Truthfully, my friends tell me I have too many “outfits”, but I reassure them that, no matter how I look, you’re still getting the same person. =]

    I did enjoy reading your article; I appreciate your insight into what you take away from fursuit. I guess I’m just weird and different! :)

    1. Hrmm….

      First. let me say that I’m terribly sorry to hear that you for the magic is gone. I mourn your loss, and suspect you don’t know what you’re missing.

      I don’t have much to say about the rest of your comment, except to comment that I found it very insightful indeed. Everyone experiences life from a somewhat different angle, and it’s good to be reminded of that sometimes. One thing that I don’t want to let pass, however, is the condescending attitude of the suiter(s) you mentioned. As I stated in my own piece, I haven’t been a suiter myself for a very long time now and no longer even own one (though I keep toying with the idea of having another made). Therefore, I have no moral standing to apologize or in any way speak for him/them. On the other hand, when a person excels at something that other people value highly, it _does_ tend to inflate the ego. All humans are subject to human frailties, and heaven knows that I’m vulnerable to my own share. So when confronted with situations like this I try very hard to smile, recognize the phenomenon for what it is, and try to make a new friend of the person anyway. His other edges are perhaps not so rough. _Probably_ aren’t, in fact.

  3. I don’t know as I feel that jaded to the magic. I think there’s a pretty even split between fursuiters who do it to feel comfortable with themselves (so more of a magnifier of their base personality and a me-with-fur only more social) and those that do it to portray a character. As with anything, there’s a spectrum, of course. Currently all I have is my quad, who is pretty much me as a cat. I try to act like a cat while wearing it, which is made a lot easier by how those around me (children and adults) act when I’m there.

    On the other hand, I break the magic often enough by standing up to leave and it doesn’t seem to bother the children I visit much at all. Once a smaller one who’d been following me around as a cat chased me down the hall as I was bipedal and I went down on all fours to greet him.

    I do think that there is some amount of obligation to it, though. Fursuiters do tend towards a slightly higher social position on average and personally I feel like there’s a mandate towards not breaking character unless it’s something that I need to do or works in the character’s totality. Thrak’s a psychokinetic, after, all so he can talk. He just chooses not to most of the time because he gets more attention if he just walks up to someone and nuzzles them.

    1. I especially like quad suits and hope to someday see yours!

      In all things there’s a spectrum, and reality is reality no matter how hard we seek to make the illusion more real. (I bet your suit has some sort of zipper or the equivalent that a child might discover, for example. Plus, accidents always happen.) But… There’s a difference between bowing to reality (like walking bipedally away from a quadrupedal performance) and blatantly despoiling a carefully-wrought dream. That’s all I’m trying to say.

      1. I understand what you mean. I was attempting to highlight that difference myself and why I at least feel an obligation to try to mitigate that even when I’m doing what I need to. It seems unthinkable for me to do what the person in your anecdote did simply because in costume I have a very handy muzzle to rest on someone’s shoulder to let them know I’m there. There’s breaking magic and then there’s plain lack of manners.

        The zipper is actually very hard for kids to reach since I’m still decently large on all fours and it’s behind a panel held on by velcro. What’s more obvious are the eyes, which at least one kid poked. Quads occupy a different point in the spectrum of blurring reality. I think the average child is less afraid of a quadrupedal because they’re on the kid’s level and seem more like a giant stuffed animal in most cases or an actual critter. My perception from very hazy memories as a child.

  4. Hi I’m a male furry looking to get a full female fursuit with big breasts built on and I can not find where to find them ones I’m looking for are like Aurora Spencers Vixen if any one knows where I can go the buy a couple email me put subject fursuit thank you

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