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Fursuits, originally known as zoots, are animal based costumes associated with the furry fandom. The term, coined in 1993 by Robert King, can also refer to animal mascot costumes in general, as opposed to human or anthropomorphized object mascots.[clarify]
Owners are known as fursuiters, furzooters, or suiter/zooters, while the act of wearing a fursuit is usually referred to as fursuiting (originally as zooting, named after the Chicano zoot suiters of the Los Angeles area of the 1940s).
Fursuiting as a concept can be traced to as early as 1947, with Edwin Corle's Three Ways to Mecca being the story of an author who decides to start wearing a custom German Shepherd dog suit both publicly and privately out of an inner desire that he himself can't quite put his finger on (though he supposes it was an idea he got after viewing a cartoon of a moose driving a car and his best friend supposes it's due to it psychologically being a perfect balance of introversion and extroversion).
Fursuiting as a permanent feature and practice within the fandom likely dates to the pre-convention era (1984-1989), when the first furry parties were being organized at both sci-fi conventions and home parties. By Confurence 0 in 1989 (the first hotel-based furry convention), a programming track called "Furry Costuming" was held at the hotel at which it took place. Artists and fursuiters Bob Hill and Shawn Keller are regarded as the first true fursuiters in the furry fandom, with Hill being an accomplished professional performer, and Keller for his complex built suits.
Many have commented on the change which occurred in the growing fandom when graphic artists, many of whom were native to the funny animal fandom era,[clarify] shared more attention with costumers,[clarify] resulting in the artists' booths being overshadowed by the presence of costumes at conventions and furry parties
This trend continues today, with the number of fursuiters growing exponentially every year at several furry conventions, even breaking established Guinness World Records. Some conventions have included since the early 2000s the position of Fursuiter Guest of Honor.
Fursuits range from simple tails and ears to full costumes with mechanical/electronic components. Similar to mascot suits, they allow the wearer to adopt another animal look and/or personality while in costume. Owners can spend less than one-hundred to many thousands of dollars on one fursuit, depending on the complexity of the design and on the materials used. These items are mainly sold online, with many makers owning sites dedicated to their suits. Suiting paraphernalia is often sold at "Furry Conventions." Furries may make their own using online tutorials and/or ask for advice, or have a hobbyist or a professional fursuit maker or company assist them.
There are many types of fursuits. There are partials and fullsuits (along with several categories stemming from them. Suits that cover the whole body, or fullsuits, come with a head, a bodysuit, feetpaws, forepaws (hands), and a tail. There are three main types of fullsuits; the plantigrade, the digitigrade, and the unguligrade. Plantigrade gives a suit a more anthropomorphic look, adding no animalistic qualities to the legs. Digitigrade is used for canines, felines, birds, dinosaurs, and various other creatures. Unguligrade is used for hoofed animals such as horses or deer. A partial suit or half-suit contains the above, only without the body. This allows the wearer to don ordinary clothing (or a different costume) overtop of the paws, head, and tail. In partial suits, the tail is usually attached to a belt, and the arms and legs have sleeves that can go up as far as the shoulders and pelvis, respectively. A third type known as the three-quarter suit has been developed, which consists of a head, arms, and pants made to look like the legs, tail, and feet of the animal in question, which works well for characters who only wear shirts.
There are also uncommon suit types. For example the quad suit. It uses the arms of its wearer as the animals forelegs, and the hind legs are often stilts. There are also plush/plushie suits, which are suits that look like giant stuffed animals, with lots of padding and little to no dexterity in the hands.
Reasons for fursuiting
A person who wears a fursuit generally falls into one or more of six categories for wearing them:
Many people wear fursuits as a real life job. This can include mascots, though not all mascots are fursuits, nor are all mascot performers are furries. Many fursuiters are hired through an agency to represent a character, while others bring their own creations to an event. There are also several volunteer fursuiting groups across North America that either ask or are asked to entertain at various social functions. Some groups even set up their own charitable events or perform on the streets to passersby.
Some fursuiters wear their suits for non-paid charity work, such as events for social causes (animal rights) or visits to children hospitals or wards for entertainment.
Other furries enjoy wearing their suits for parades, exhibitions, or conventions for simple personal fun or crowd entertainment. They may also wear their suits to small, informal meetings among local furry fans.
Some may get permission to perform in or outside of a shop or event, while others may simply wear a suit in a major area, such as a mall. However, some cities have no-mask laws, so individuals seeking to wear their fursuit in large, public places should check first if it's allowed before performing at that location.
Some Role-players create highly elaborate costumes for their characters, including fursuits. Half-suits are usually created for role-playing games, though some role-players use full-body suits. These suits wear elaborate clothes and costumes of their own, depending on the theme of the game.
Some people (usually otherkin, therianthropes or furry lifestylers) also fursuit for reasons of expressing what they feel is their inner animal self. Most of them try to make their suits as realistic and lifelike as possible.
There is a perception stereotype in and out the furry fandom that fursuit sex is practiced by all fursuiters, thus consider the fursuit a sexual item. Some suits may contain elaborately designed/recreated sexual features (sexual organs), while some wearers have simple cut accesses on the suit.
Construction and maintenance
- Main article: Construction of fursuits
A key part of playing a character in the suit is an engaging performance. The most expensive fursuit in the world will be useless to someone who lacks the knowledge to use it. Looking good is important, but not as important as acting.
How the performer acts in costume reflects on how others relate to them. If the desired character is bouncy and bubbly, then acting that way is required to communicate it to spectators.
The design of the suit plays a part in some of the moves that can be done. For example, some fursuiters with floppy muzzles nod their heads up and down rapidly to simulate laughter or enjoyment. This cannot be done with suits with a rigid muzzle, or no muzzle at all.
Fursuiters can speak while on costume, typically to their handler(s), other fursuiters, and/or close friends. More elaborate fursuits are built with some form of talk-jaw, either physically (the fursuit's lower jaw being attached to the fursuiter's chin or pressed physically against by the fursuiter's lower jaw in some other holding fashion) or by the use of mechanical/electronic devices, which enables the fursuiter to "talk".
Alternately, fursuiters may only speak in some limited fashion, either with a terse vocabulary or simply using as few words as necessary.
Some fursuiters do not speak in costume due to a variety of reasons:
- To preserve the anonymity or conceal the gender of the performer
- The design of most suits muffles the voice of the performer
- Most animals don't talk
- It might cause an unwanted break of character
- Because they just don't want to
Because of this, acting in the suit is mostly about body language. A fursuiter may wiggle around excitedly, shiver in fear, stomp around in anger, or hang their head in sadness.
Fursuiters are often included in media coverage of the fandom, such as the CSI episode Fur and Loathing. They may also mentioned incidentally - for example, one of the female characters on the 2009 non-furry novel The Year of the Flood, a 2009 novel by Margaret Atwood, gets a job as a "Furzooter", being constantly sexually harassed.
- [FUR]A survey about "ZOOs" post on fur.artwork.erotica. Dated July 13, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
- Lifestylers and costuming/"zooting" on the An Informal History of Furry Fandom essay by Simo. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- Critter Costuming, p13 - Robert King mentions inventing the term fursuit back in 1993 for the title of an amateur costumers' mailing list about the then-unnamed hobby while on the way back from a conference, in part as a pun on the word pursuit
- Corle, Edwin (1947). Three Ways to Mecca. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce.
- “Don’t dream it – be it!” Interview with Robert Hill about early fursuiting and fandom. article on Dogpatch Press. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
- When did Fursuiters take over furry fandom? post by Joe Strike to alt.fan.furry, Nov 30 2008. Retrieved ?.
- . Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Rainfurrest Guest of Honor page on the Rainfurrest official site. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Hospital/medical sites page on the Fursuit.org website. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Fursuitsex on the Urban Dictionary. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- Fursuits and yiffing. Fact or fiction? article on Yahoo! Answers. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- The unexpected depths of headspace: A rodents tale. article on . Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- The Year of the Flood by Atwood, Margaret. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart, 2009. p. 31.
- Critter Costuming: Making Mascots and Fabricating Fursuits by Adam Riggs, Ibexa Press, September 2004, 208 pages (spiral-bound), ISBN 0967817072, (Amazon link)
- Fursuit on Wikipedia
- Costume on Wikipedia
- Available fursuit makers
- Fursuit photographs
- Necomimi (ears moved by brain sensor) on Wikipedia
- Costuming and fursuiting at Matrices.net
- The Fursuit community on LiveJournal
- Nicodemus' Fursuit Pages (archived) — information by Adam "Nicodemus" Riggs
- Fursuit building by Tioh
- Clean Fursuits website about washing, etc.
- The Fursuit Database A comprehensive Fursuit database
- fursuiter.org - fursuit database - Defunct (see archive)
- frappr.com/fursuiters - A map dedicated to fursuiters around the world - Defunct (see archive)
|Some of this page is derived from Wikipedia. The original article was at Fursuit. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WikiFur, the text of Wikipedia is available under CC-BY-SA and the GFDL.|
Construction and components
Websites and databases