Interacting with a Fur-suiter
So there’s giant, furry animal heading your way, what do you do? Well there’s really only two ways people react to fur-suits: positively or negatively. I’ll start with the people whose gut reaction is negative when confronted with a fur-suit.
When You Dislike Fur-suits
It doesn’t make you a bad person or furry just because fur-suits make you uncomfortable. Liking fur-suits is not a prerequisite for being a furry, but since most furry gatherings/conventions will have a bunch of fur-suiters at them it is in your best interest to learn how to deal with them.
The first thing you have to realize is that most fur-suiters are not “out to get you” and they often cannot tell if they are making you uncomfortable. Fur-suits have very limited vision, so they may not be able to see your face or body language. They may also be unable to hear you unless you are very close to them or shouting. If you are feeling threatened or uncomfortable there is a right way of getting a fur-suiter to leave you alone, and a wrong way.
The Right Way:
Just walk away, the fur-suiter will almost never re-engage with someone who walks away from them.
Tell them you are uncomfortable around fur-suits, they will usually understand and leave you alone.
If you don’t want to get close enough to tell them you can usually talk to the fur-suiter’s handler (a person not wearing a costume, who helps the fur-suiter). The handler will be able to talk/signal to the fur-suiter.
The Wrong Way:
Punching, hitting, or shoving the fur-suiter. There is a person in that costume and hitting them is still assault. If your first instinct is to lash out, keep in mind that the person wearing the costume may very well be a young girl.
Yelling abuse or profanity. There’s no need for foul language, especially since any place you encounter a fur-suiter will likely have children around.
Demanding a fur-suiter to remove their head. Unless you are law enforcement, or own the venue, you cannot demand that a fur-suiter remove their head.
When You Like Fur-suits
Now for all of you who just love fur-suits, it’s great that you do, but are you acting appropriately when interacting with a fur-suiter? It’s a common problem among fur-suiters, that people treat them harshly or in a dehumanizing way, even when that person obviously loves fur-suits.
A common misconception is that fur-suiters dress in animal costumes because they want to be treated like animals. While I’m sure there are some fur-suiters who do, many fur-suiters find it insulting to be treated like an animal even while in costume. Not asking for consent to touch a fur-suiter is rude and can quickly cross the line to assault. Not all fur-suiters want to give hugs or be petted, so you should always ask permission before you do so. Please don’t be insulted if a fur-suiter says/signal that no you can’t touch them. Think of it like this, if you ran to a stranger on the street and asked to hug/pet them you’d probably be asked to back away a minimum of ten feet! Most fur-suiters will be happy to give you a hug as long as you’re polite about it.
Asking for permission also applies to pictures. There’s nothing a fur-suiter hates more than having a picture taken of them when they are not ready or even have their heads off. This is a request that is almost never denied, so just ask or make a “camera” gesture and you’ll be amazed at how fast a fur-suiter will strike a pose.
While fur-suiters may seem to be stuffed animals, they are not toys and so should not be treated as such. Not only is it demeaning to be yanked around, tripped, or tackled, it can also lead to injury. While some fur-suiters may roughhouse or play-fight, you should still treat them gently. And if you see a fur-suiter being roughed up it would be very good for your karma to step in and ask the person/child to be gentler with the fur-suiter.
Fur-suits have limited vision, so when approaching a fur-suiter, approach them from the front so they can see you coming. If you’re trying to interact with a fur-suiter and they walk right by you, they probably didn’t see you, so please don’t be offended. If the fur-suiter seems to be in a hurry, don’t try to delay them. They may be in distress and need to get somewhere to take off their costume. Convention etiquette also demands that you let fur-suiters into the elevator first. This isn’t because they are considered better than you, it’s just that a fur-suiter often needs to get to their rooms or the headless lounge to take off the suit. Fur-suits get very hot and heat exhaustion/heat stroke is a very real problem.
While I, and most fur-suiters, understand wanting to wear a fur-suit (How could we not?) asking to wear someone's fur-suit can get mixed reviews. Some don’t mind and other’s do. A fur-suit is often the performer’s own character, and can even be considered a representation of themselves. Many fur-suiters do not like being asked to let someone else wear their fur-suit. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t let someone you just met drive your car, right? The one you’ve been saving all year to buy. It’s kind of like that.
Don’t ever touch a fur-suiter without their permission.
When touching a fur-suiter, avoid the groin and chest area so you don’t accidentally grope a stranger.
If you hug a fur-suiter be gentle. Being bear-hugged can hurt and being picked up can be terrifying.
Ask permission before taking a picture.
Be gentle with fur-suiters. Don’t pull, trip, or tackle them. Glomping = Tackling.
Approach fur-suiters from the front so they see you coming.
Don’t delay a fur-suiter who’s in a hurry, they may be overheating.
At conventions, let the fur-suiters into the elevator first. They may be overheating.
When asking a fur-suiter to try on their fur-suit, don’t be offended if they say no. It’s very personal and often very sweaty.
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