Beginners Guide to Fursuiting
Today we will be looking into the form of costuming known as fursuiting. Fursuiting basically involves costuming in an animal suit, with a fully-enclosed head, often similar in appearance to mascot costumes seen in theme parks.
This is supposed to be a basic guide and introduction but is in no way the be all and end all. If you have any hints or tips of your own please comment at the bottom of this article to add your knowledge!
First of all, fursuiting is generally connected to the ‘furry fandom’ (this will be covered in a future article), but not always, it can be completely separate, for example: someone who is a fursuiter is not necessarily a furry.
Fursuiting is a very intensive type of costuming which can be dangerous if not done correctly. One main factor to keep in mind is that your head will be fully enclosed inside of the fursuit head which is usually made of either foam or resin and then covered in layers of faux fur therefore it can get VERY warm inside the head – up to approximately 35 degrees Celsius. Keeping this in mind it is very important that you stay hydrated and take regular breaks outside of suit to cool down. Otherwise you can suffer from heat stroke and pass out, this is a very serious problem if you are in a fursuit people (first aiders, paramedics) are unable to see/get to your face, body etc to see if you’re alright and can result in you having to be cut out of the suit.
Whilst fursuiting it is important to realise that your visibility is extremely limited – in most suits you will have little to no peripheral vision and physically have to turn your body to look around. This means that you can’t see small children approaching you, obstacles, people running at you for hugs, stairs and so on. This is why it’s important to have a ‘Spotter’ with you. This is a person out of suit to look after you, keep an eye on you and warn you of any obstacles/photo opportunities.
There are a variety of different styles of fursuits out there – the most common styles of head are:
There are different styles of bodies as well:
Fullsuit – digitigrade (animal-like legs)
Fullsuit – Plantigrade
In fursuit you generally adopt the character or persona of the fursuit – this may be a character you have created yourself or a pre-existing character you are cosplaying as. To best achieve this it is generally accepted as an unwritten rule that you do not speak in suit or remove your head in public so as to avoid ‘breaking the magic’. Obviously this should only be followed if you wish to and to a sensible level, never to a point where you are putting yourself at risk.
I useful tip I always use is as soon as I’ve put on my fursuit on is that I do a quick routine: ‘eyes, ears, mouth and nose’. This just involves me tapping the eyes, ears, mouth and nose of the fursuit head to remind myself of where they are in relation to my actual head. I find this prevents me from smacking people in the face too often.
When moving in fursuit it is best to remember to exaggerate your movements so they are easy to read and interpret, for example sadness can be shown by hanging your head or pretending to cry. Also work out some signals with your spotter to let them know when you need to take a break, remove your head or get a drink.
One final tip is to remember to always be very careful around children. They can often be easily scared by fursuit characters, so do not be offended – just move away or pretend to be sad/scared too if a child starts crying. You don’t want to upset them further – or their parents!
On the other hand when children approach you, you should try to crouch down to be at their level and therefore less intimidating, also allowing you to keep an eye on them. I do not recommend hugging, especially if you do not know the child as it can make parents uncomfortable and lead to trouble, the best option is to hold up a hand for a high five or hold out an arm to allow them to pat you. As with all interaction with children use your common sense and look to the parent for guidance.
NEVER allow a parent to hand you their child to hold.
Once you have finished wearing your fursuit it is important to take good care of it. As soon as you have removed the suit, lay it out to air – it will be very damp inside from sweat so it’s best to allow it time to dry out. Also spraying it with a gentle anti-bacterial spray (one that will not irritate your skin or damage fabric) will prevent bacteria or germs growing in the fabric and therefore minimise smell. It is not advisable to spray this inside the actual head as it will be against your face. Gently brush out the fur to keep it looking nice, both before and after wear – keep in mind that it is faux fur and will not grow back! Ensure that you keep the frsuit head in a rigid box to prevent it from getting crushed or damaged.
Thank you for reading, again, if you have any questions or suggestions please put them into the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Photos by: ociocat (Ari fursuit), ShanieTX, Garyth Hawkins, confuzzled photographer (suits: evil squirrel and ‘Alupuppy’)