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CONFORM by acinonyxjubatusrex

CONFORM

acinonyxjubatusrex

5 August 2020 at 01:12:36 MDT

[Edit: I'm hearing word that this piece may have been shared on some sort of furry article aggregation site? If you're looking to do that, please contact me first. Aside from my personal website, this has only been shared here on Weasyl and Twitter, and it's staggeringly simple to send somebody a private message on both platforms. I do not consent to my works being copied or rehosted onto any other website without being asked.]

I've spent 6+ years as a fursuiter in this fandom and need to get some things off my chest. Visual art is what draws people's attention in this community, but the sentiment behind the image is just as important. I appreciate your patience and attention as you take in what I have to say.

I have an, at this time, unique hyper-realistic fursuit that incorporates my real eyes and hair into the costume. I love my fursuit and couldn't be happier with it, but obviously, it's something extremely niche, quite the opposite of the cute and cartoony fursuits that attract most members of the fandom. Over the years, I've received a fair bit of unwanted criticism, backhanded compliments, and outright insults about my choice of fursuit style. I have been called ugly, creepy, gross, cringe, horrifying, not a real fursuit(er), and other less savory things that don't bear mentioning. I've had people say I should cut my hair off, wear contact lenses, and even tell me to get fake eyes put into my fursuit, as though I didn't actively choose to purchase a fursuit like this based on my own preferences.

Of all the realistic features of my suit, my eyes are what draw the most attention, for better or worse. Until now I've been telling people that I chose a use-your-own-eyes fursuit because of my vision impairments, to avoid the redundancy of putting fake glasses on a bigger and uglier fursuit head with my prescription ones hidden away beneath. While this is completely true, I haven't spoken before about the more personal reasons for doing so. I was put off getting a fursuit for so long because the vast majority, even realistic ones, don't really feel alive because of their static facial expressions. Shetani is not a theme park mascot or a cartoon and I don't envision her as such; she is a representation of myself as an animal. When I fursuit, I'm not being an individual playing a fictional character, I'm still me - albeit a little fuzzier. I want people I meet to feel like they are talking not to the costume, but the person within, and make that interpersonal connection. It's said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and I love how I have been given so much freedom of expression and emotion by showing my eyes when I fursuit. Some of the most impactful people in my life tell me that my eyes are striking, beautiful, and breathtaking - who wouldn't want to include that in a representation of themselves? My eyes are as integral an element of my fursona's design as her hair or species.

In a fandom supposedly based in acceptance and tolerance of individuality, I'm disappointed by how much close-mindedness I encounter, not from non-furries, but from fellow community members. For years, I was afraid to call myself a furry because I would be shunned and mocked by people outside the fandom - it is a bitter irony that the bulk of the harassment targeting me today comes from other furries. The phrase "Be yourself - no, not like that" is frequently tossed around as a humorous punchline, but as is often the case, its basis in reality makes it all the more poignant. I can't help but get aggravated every time I share a photo or video I worked hard on and get the inevitable remark that I should change things about the way I present myself because Random Internet Stranger #503 would like it better. I fursuit for my own benefit, not the enjoyment of others. I'm not performing for public approval and my mere existence is not an invitation for critique. I feel frustrated that the common response is not to appreciate something unique that they perhaps haven't seen before, and respect or even just acknowledge a person self-expressing in a novel way. Instead they go out of their way to tell me that they're put-off by how I choose to present myself, and that I should remove my individuality, assimilate, and become more like the status quo.

This aspect in particular inspired much of the symbolism of the piece. A garishly colored cartoon furry seeks to strip Shetani of her individuality as it forcibly stitches cutesy cartoon patches over her eyes. Its arm across her chest, with Shetani's broken glasses clenched in its paw, restricts her from moving forward, and she can do little more than accept the abuse defiantly, tears welling in her uncovered eye, brow and muzzle creased in silent outrage. The artist did a fantastic job of pushing the contrast between the two art styles, enhancing the unsettling feeling and really driving home that the two do not belong together. I'd love to hear other folks' interpretation of the piece as well - feel free to comment with your remarks!

Yesterday, an opinion post made the rounds on Twitter, which happened to be a comment on a photo of a suit belonging to one of my friends. The person claimed all realistic fursuits are nightmarish and take away the fun of people trying to be cartoon characters, while using the verbage "realistic and regular fursuits" as though realism is a form of aberrance. Thinking before you speak is absolutely lost on many members of our community these days. The amount of entitlement and outright lack of etiquette from some furries is absolutely astounding. Everyone's allowed to have opinions, but they are not entitled to voice them without being asked. If you wouldn't walk up to a person on the street and tell them their shirt is ugly, this also applies to any other apparel or visual aesthetic they've chosen to express themselves.

Sadly, we live in a culture that promotes reactions and having a comment on everything over actual substance. I'm glad I grew up in the time period that I did, because I doubt I would have survived as a teenager in today's social climate. I'm shocked by the amount of bullying, vitriol, and outright bigotry I see regularly - it's like people don't care there is another human being on the other side of the screen. What's worse is that these individuals never face actual consequences for their actions, and thus, never learn how to properly behave.
Naturally, I have my own opinions on toony fursuits, art styles, and even certain popular fursuit makers. You will never hear me voice them, especially not directly to people who enjoy and support these aesthetics, because it's their decision that makes them happy! Other people's choices have zero bearing on my own enjoyment of the furry community, and in fact, it's our diversity that makes this fandom such a joy to be part of.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, see things from my perspective, and hopefully understand what we need to do to improve as a community.

Shetani is acinonyxjubatusrex acinonyxjubatusrex
Art by red_snow_leopard

Submission Information

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7527
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27
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35
Rating:
General
Category:
Visual / Digital

Comments

  • Link

    I grew up with like, fantasy movies in the 90s and it was all elaborate costumes and makeups and stuff. Neverending Story et al. That's the style I naturally gravitate toward when I do my own costuming! It's absolutely not the mainstream style though and god... I get "creepy" a lot. People are staggeringly rude and entitled. And they have no idea that their comments actually get read by the person running the account that posted it. Pure solipsism. I feel like these same people get confused by that weird person who lives in every mirror and copies all their movements.

    FWIW... every person I see out there rocking a UYOE style mask, yourself highly included, encourages me to rock it more myself, despite the backlash. I love to block people for coming at me froggy. It's a COOL LOOK and every time you go out sporting it, it makes it a little bit more mainstream.

    • Link

      All the points you make are exactly what I was trying to get across. I'm so glad you were able to pick up on the message, I worry I got a little voerbose in setting up my own story and a lot of people petered out before the end, heh.

      I took a look at your profile and I love what you do with your costuming! I'm particularly envious of your editing skills! It must feel wonderful to have a vision in your head and be able to perfectly bring that to fruition with your art.

  • Link

    I've come across your suit before and I have to say I quite admire it. I can also understand it not being everyone's cup of tea (there are certainly parts of the furry fandom that I have zero interest in); but that's no reason to dog-pile hate on someone's personal preference. I am sorry you have to deal with that.

    I do wonder how many of these people are from younger generations that didn't grow up on a steady diet of 80s and 90s practical effects fantasy/sci-fi movies. It is possible they have trouble getting past the hyper realism of UYOE style if they've never seen them in action or only for the uncanny valley effect some have. (It's still not an excuse though.)

    The furry fandom, for all it's inclusiveness, can feel very exclusive sometimes. I've often described myself as "fringe furry" because while my interests overlap with a lot of furries, I don't really fit the "furry mold" the community seems to project. I don't draw exclusively furry art. My fursona is just a fun exercise in character design. I don't revolve everything I do around the furry fandom, it's just another interest I have. As such, there sometimes doesn't feel like a place for someone who doesn't make "furry" their whole identity. (It's a lot like the RenFaire circuit actually lol.)

    Anyway, you keep rocking your suit! <3

    • Link

      It could be that they're not used to the style, yes - in fact I'm almost certain that's the case for the furry fandom. Most of the fursuits they're looking up will be toony ones. Another issue with younger folks is that they don't have that mental filter that prevents their gut reaction from spilling out onto the (proverbial) page. Having a reaction or comment on everything is encouraged by today's climate of social media, and instead of just hitting the back button on something they find shocking, they just type out their first impression of "ew wtf" and hit enter.

      I'm not asking for blanket acceptance - the fandom is full of folks with different tastes, and that's what keeps us full of fresh new ideas - just trying to advocate being a little kinder to others and thinking before you speak. :3

  • Link

    I've never seen a fursuit like yours before, and haven't seen your fursuit in particular until your tweet linking to here floated to my Twitter timeline.

    Not much to say other than sorry that the fandom has treated you this way because I think your fursuit is unique. Being able to "animate" fursuit eyes is a challenge that many fursuiters have taken through magnetic eyelids and digital screens, and it's a shame they don't see using your own eyes as another feature. I think it's very cool.
    I guess I can't say for sure since it might be different in-person, but even so, I've (albeit relatively recently, but it's better late than never) learned how disrespectful it is to simply mouth off at someone any opinions you have if you don't like it.

    Hope your perspective reaches all the people who need it.
    (Great piece by red_snow_leopard as well~)

    • Link

      I agree, there's a lot of nuance to my suit that film can't capture. Video does a better job than still images, but it's something you really need to experience in person to get the full feeling. Funnily enough, I have never received an unkind word about my suit in person. I think most of it is internet bravado! Also, in a physical space, social norms are a bit different, and you have a lot more control over who you interact with.

  • Link

    I think I have said this before, but I love your suit and I feel bad that you get such hate because of it.

  • Link

    I LOVE your suit! For real it's so much more expressive because it uses your own eyes.
    I'm sorry to hear you're getting so much harassment over it :'( I get that people don't like it as much as other styles (everyone has their likes and dislikes) but that does not make it right to send hate and vitriol to someone.

    It's rather ironic for a community as open and accepting as this one that bickers and fight over small things like this :( . Maybe it is because of the relative young age of a lot of furries and the pseudonymity of online interaction is definitely part of it.
    As HannahCan said it could be that the many furries did not grow up with the practical effects and makeup of the 80ies and 90ies as CGI certainly has a whole different look to it.

    I myself would love to see more UYOE style of suits! Maybe I'll get one myself if I manage to overcome my anxiety ^w^; .

    The art shows the pain of the "verbal" abuse really well.
    Please remember that you are NOT ugly, NOT creepy, NOT gross, NOT cringe, NOT horrifying, and that you ARE a real fursuiter! I think it's safe to say you know this from reading your text but that does not mean it does not have to be said.
    Please stay your awesome self! *offers hugs*

    Sincerely,
    Cotta "Random internet stranger #2674"

    • Link

      P.S. Sorry if my message is a bit rambly, it's rather late and I should be asleep but I wanted to write this message before heading to bed.

      • Link

        Thank you very much for your kind words! You absolutely picked up on what I was trying to get across, and I'm glad it resonated with you. Today has been a real whirlwind for me and this was the best thing I could read before going off to bed. ♥

  • Link

    I've seen your suit, there's nothing wrong with having it be more realistic than other suits. The idea that someone gets angry over someone else's suit just seems like wasted energy, like complaining that everyone in the fandom isn't a hyena fur. I really don't get their attitude about that, especially since it's obvious about the care you've put into the suit

    • Link

      Right? Me doing my own weird little thing over here doesn't prevent anyone else from wearing their toony or mainstream fursuit. Criticizing strangers for not enjoying the same things as you is so not the way to go!

  • Link

    Coming from a complete stranger who stumbled across this from Twitter, I've gotta say, I like the more realistic look you've got. My impression is the Fandom SHOULD be welcoming of any and all expression, but if people are gonna be closed minded and apply their own standards to others, they can piss off.
    You keep doing you, and know that you've got people cheering you on.

    • Link

      Of course, thank you very much! I'm not asking everyone to like me or what I do, just to be respectful of other people and their preferences.

  • Link

    I just looked at pictures in your gallery of your suit. You're beautiful! I don't care what anyone else says. You do you and that's all you should do.

    • Link

      I've been being my beautiful self my entire life, I'm not gonna stop now 😉 Thank you!

  • Link

    I very much like your costume! Also I found your writing very well done and insightful, thank you for putting together this piece.

    • Link

      Thank you very much! This was a very personal piece to share, and non-fiction writing is severely overlooked in the furry fandom, so I appreciate your compliments.

  • Link

    Wow 😢 that’s so powerful. Listen you look beautiful in that suit. YOUR BEAUTIFUL THE WAY YOU ARE 😭

  • Link

    Really sucks that you got those comments, I always like seeing someone try a more realistic style, especially because it's so hard to do well. Furry visual media has so much more than cartoons, why not have that represented in other forms of art as well? Maybe you just end up in the uncanny valley for some people, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing. Still awful to then go and insult someone like that, of course.

    • Link

      It turns out the commenter who sparked this whole thing had barely turned 18 years old. The furry fandom is a way different place from when I first discovered it. I feel like there was a greater representation of diversity back then, but the popular style in both 2D (drawings) and 3D (fursuits) art today is overwhelmingly toony. It's understandable that a young kid joining the fandom in this day and age, not looking any deeper than what's beyond their nose, might assume that's what we're all about. It's a totally unintended side effect - after all, I suit for my own enjoyment and no one else's - but I do take a bit of pride in the fact that my mere presence in furry spaces serves to remind folks that not all of us want to look like an oversized technicolor stuffed animal, and there is more than one way to imagine one's character.

  • Link

    Dare to be different? Suffer the consequences, I suppose.

  • Link

    Be who you are Shetani. These critics of yours are no doubt younger people just entering the fandom with no "shut up" filter.

  • Link

    It's a good suit. Very old school, harkening back to the days when there was more experimentation with costuming.

  • Link

    YOU OWE NO ONE ANYTHING FOR BEING WHO YOU ARE.