Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Fursonas, because Why Not!

A discussion in the shoutbox came up today about what a fursona is and why people choose the ones they do. I thought it might be fun to share here our own definitions of fursonas and perhaps the evolution of our own fursonas, as well as why we chose what we chose.

Remember, everyone’s an individual and has a right to their own definitions and opinions. Please be respectful.

Don’t have one. Some people go so far as to say that means I’m not a furry, but I know better. Dunno why I don’t have one, but I don’t.

Pfft, yeah, that doesn’t mean you’re not a furry :stuck_out_tongue: One thing I’ve learned is it all boils down to self identity. Just because you don’t feel the need to be represented as one through art or suits or what-have-you doesn’t mean anything. Interesting though how that can happen with some folks, while others obsess over them.

I guess I used to have one, but these days all I have are recurring characters I like to write, typically in RP and whatnot, and their iterations thereof.

If I counted all of those, I’d have… hm. 10? 12?

Now this is an interesting topic I can’t wait to get into - really, I find it very interesting.

For me, I don’t hold much in fursonas at all, though I understand why some do. I’ve always found the word ‘fursona’ itself a bit cringe-worthy, as I find it a bit childish, if not, then its just a bit of a pointless effort to distinguish the fandom. Persona is a perfectly acceptable word. I realise it is a bit pedantic, but I wonder if creating a furry lexicon that seems to emphasise ‘fur’ in everything makes it harder for the fandom to be taken seriously (if it wishes to), say, in perhaps our aim here to promote quality anthropomorphic literature.

What does this mean for Televassi? He’s always been more of an avatar. I had a concept floating around from one of my novels, and I just decided to take him and use him as an avatar. I got the feeling from my first attempt to be active on FA that you need to have something like that, otherwise it seems people are less willing to talk to you. May well just be down to my personal experience that time. Still, it’s quite fun to have a character as an online avatar, though I am mindful to try and make sure people don’t equate me with the character.

As a final point at large, I also wonder if some people invest in a fursona because they’re dissatisfied with their lives and/or personal appearance, and use it to hide from their problems. If you have self image issues, I am inclined to wonder whether, say, investing in an unobtainable idealised self is a healthy way to cope. The same goes for people who say suiting allows them to be more confident and outgoing - its not exactly helping them to gain them confidence when they’re out of the suit. Just some thoughts.

(remember, outsider’s perspective!)

Some people definitely do. And I agree: it’s not a solution, it’s a way to deny the problem. Still, if someone enjoys it in a healthy way, I think he’s free to do whatever he likes with it.

Then again, maybe some people just want to have a safe way to freely express themselves without having to go through some extensive personality-reshaping exercises. An alter ego allows you to do that.

I also think that the whole fursona/persona discussion is actually part of a larger problem: that is, the problem with puns. There’s no way to deny it: puns ‘feel’ childish, and yet the community seems to be built around them (name me five cons whose names aren’t puns). I think that it corroborates the image problem this fandom is suffering from.

I started out having two separate furry identities, each representing a facet/tendency of my personality. Later, on thinking I might need to add a third, it made more sense to simply fuse them all together.

As it stands, my “fursona” is actually a pretty good visual summation of my personality. It holds a lot of personal meaning; even the wounds stand for specific events.

I view my fursona as my alter ego, in a way.

Field has many of my characteristics, but through the allegory of furry, it becomes … cuter? Sweeter? Easier to handle? He’s a bit more well-adjusted, I suppose. He’s an idealized me. Taking the bits and pieces of myself and fashioning them into what I’d like them to become (within reason).

I chose the species harvest mouse for many reasons. I’m shy, quiet, twitchy, anxious, rural, a bit naive. All of which are mousey qualities. I’ve always identified with prey over predators.

I write with many characters, but I only ever roleplay as Field (and sometimes Meadow, which is a female flip-side of Field).

But I’ve had him as my fursona for ten years, now, about. And I’ve never switched. By now, it’s such a part of me that we can’t be separated!

When furry fandom was young (pauses to wave cane about), the lingo you’d hear more often was “personal furry,” and I admit that I’ve always rather liked that phrase more. I suspect “fursona” crept in not just because of furrydom’s love of puns, but because the distinct concepts of “furry” and “furry fan” got rolled into the single word “furry.” (They were always used rather interchangeably, but calling our subculture “furry fandom” has fallen out of favor over the last ~10 years.)

Having said all that, I’m not entirely sure I have a fursona. Chipotle has ended up as my defacto online representation (and I’m known to some degree by that name in non-furry circles), but Chipotle Layotl, the middle-aged coyote woman who grew up on a reservation in a furry analogue of our world and ended up becoming a celebrity chef, has very few Big Obvious Things in common with her author, not the least of which is the flipped gender. There’s a host of little things we have in common, but there’s several other characters I could say that about. Actually, I could say that about nearly all my characters.

At the first ConFurence I attended, all the way back in 1994, they had name tags you could wear in addition to your con badge that read “Hi! I’m virtually _______” so you could fill in your MUCK name; most people used real names on their con badges (yes, it’s true). I filled in the blank with “Harlan Ellison.”

Oh,yeah, do I ever remember being accused of not being a REAL furry fan because I didn’t have either a fursona or a fursuit! It was at a ConFurence around 1995 or '96.

Back around the late '80s, Jim Groat got really excited about how “everybody” had to adopt a fursona. I briefly took Frith, from Frithuric (the original Gothic for Frederick, ca. 400-500 A.D.) rather than from “Watership Down”, and a raccoon, but I never felt that they were “really me” and soon dropped them. Then Groat decided that I was a bald eagle and all the fans should draw me as one. He and Mitch Beiro did for a few years, but that eventually got dropped. Today I’m just Fred Patten. Since I consider humans to be just another of the myriad species of mammals on Earth, this is enough for me.

Chipolte and Fred just remind me of how much of this is before my time. Still, it’s really interesting to hear about the genesis of the movement - and how it’s changed into what it is now. It seems to have generally moved from appreciating things from a distance, to becoming more personally involved in it. While that’s not a bad thing, it is a bit of a problem for those who don’t want hold too strongly to keeping a fursona.

That’s some really nice symbolism Dwale - I prefer these sorts of fursonas rather than the say, toony sparkledogs, for example. xD

For me, “Poetigress” started mostly as a LiveJournal account name and didn’t really become a true fursona to me until I joined FA. It’s just an online name/animal representation of me; she’s not a character, doesn’t have a backstory, and frankly even speaking of “her” in the third person feels really freaky and uncomfortable. :slight_smile:

I kind of followed my husband into furry – he got into it far deeper than I did at first, and I’ve had something of a back-and-forth relationship with the fandom at large, sometimes feeling like I belong here and sometimes decidedly not. He was the first one to choose a fursona, and I took longer to decide, though I knew it’d be some type of cat from the beginning. (I’ve always been a cat person who grew up stuck in a family of dog people.) I (very) briefly went with a domestic cat, but after that settled pretty quickly on the Siberian (Amur) tiger, because I did feel a personal connection there.

I’d like to see the term “furry fan” make a comeback, honestly. I would think a lot of those artists/creators who say things like “I like drawing furry art, but I’m not a furry” would probably embrace such a term.

In my early days in the fandom, I made a character for the sake of saying “hey look, I have one too”. It didn’t feel right, however (it was a wolf/husky) so I thought a little bit harder about it and came up with an otter. The otter character was a mix of traits that best suited my personality. Because I’m the worst with naming characters and people, I ended up stealing a name from two novels I enjoyed (the first from one, the last from another). I then hit a major meltdown in which I effectively killed off that character, and re-created (recolored) him as Sean. It felt much easier to have a character share my real first name, because then it felt like I was me but still not me, but yet still me (if that makes any sense). As the last few years have gone by and my personal connection to furry has begun to diminish, Sean has become an online character and the mascot for my business. That’s about it. While I’ve never really tried to hide my real identity from my online one, I’ve begun to start using my real name in more furry-related correspondence (especially when it deals with AnthroAquatic).

Think that about sums it up?

A few points I wanted to hit but I’m too lazy and fuzzy in the brain this morning to mess with the quotes.

Anyone who’s seen me in the chat box long enough knows I don’t do furry puns. I understand the cringe-factor in the term fursona. I cringe everytime I see puns such as ‘furr-riends’ or ‘yiff-tastic’ or whatever being used seriously, or even being used non-sarcastically. Fursona’s one of the only ones I don’t cringe at anymore. I don’t know why, but the word just sits well with me. Apologies for any cringe-factors out there.

As for my own, my first was Rumpleteazer (creative name, right?), a white feline I based on a picture I liked online. She was a character that allowed me to partake in various different role plays, and the face that I initially met Spirit through. That alone makes her worth bringing up even though she’s been long-since retired.

There are three personas that are most worth mentioning after her, each with a completely different reason for me to have had.

Back when I was still relatively new to the fandom, I was still struggling with being an introvert. I was huge into role playing though, and had tried a few characters before settling on a black feline with wings named Leah. The wings were a big thing for me, because I was struggling with depression and a crap-tastic home life, and she was my escape. She was loud, outgoing, witty, confident, sexy- essentially all the things a shy teenager with dwarfism could dream of being but feel is unattainable. There were times when I referred to her as ‘me without the bounds of the visual’. I held onto her for many years as a goal to work towards. Eventually, parts of the persona became a part of me, and integrated into my interactions in the real world. Oh, I’m still far from witty or sexy, but I’m definitely a lot more outgoing and extroverted. I’m still finding a balance, but I don’t think I’d have near as much self confidence if I hadn’t used Leah as a means to draw it out of myself. So while such things can be unhealthy coping mechanisms, they can also be incredibly useful tools when handled properly.

Nitetigrezz (the black feline thing on my twitter banner) was mainly just a mask for me to wear to navigate the fandom. I held the name for a long time because it was never taken when I’d go to a new site. During that time I had really lost my own self identity, so it took a few years before I bothered creating a face for the name. I’ve used her for so long that a number of folks on FA made a huge fuss when I talked about auctioning off all her pictures and being done with her. Although she was just a mask to me, everyone perceived her as being me. Spirit suggested that I shouldn’t see her as a bearer of bad memories, but as something that held me together when I was still collecting the pieces of myself. So now she’s my poster girl, and even has a place in the worlds Spirit and I have created.

Laura, aka Munchkin, was the first time I really embraced everything I am. For so long I was ashamed of my dwarfism, though I longed to have a persona that was honestly me. Spirit was the one who first recommended the munchkin cat. I tried to deny it at first, but after a lot of thought I realized he couldn’t be more right. She’s gone through some changes since I originally came up with her, but every change has been to make her that much more, well, me. She has no separate story, no separate personality (except that I feel more comfortable acting goofy through her :P), she just is me. Funny enough, she even shares my name and nickname X3

So yeah, that’s been my transformation through the fandom. First a character, then a goal, then a mask, and now me, as I am.

Same here. Not really sure why, but “fursona” has never bothered me while pretty much every other furry-specific word does.

This exactly. Every time I read the other ones online, I cringe. Every time I hear the other ones in live conversation, I have to walk out of the room because I feel uncomfortable.

I’ve been around long enough to remember “personal furry” and “RP character” and to have had those. The word “fursona” is really a clever coinage though. It’s furry-specific, yet carries a clear meaning that often doesn’t need definition even for outsiders. Of course, I’ve said before (to some boos and hisses) that I’m not bothered much by furry lingo like “furs” and “footpaws” and so forth. Language is what it is. Words come and go, but a few do become permanently installed into the language. This is especially true for English. We all know what “smog” is, but the word is an artificial creation. A “portmanteau” word, as I think Lewis Carroll first called them. It was certainly Humpty Dumpty who claimed the right to make words work for him however he chose to do it.

Yes, I have a fursona. Altivo grew out of a lot of RP at online sites, 15 and more years ago. I also have favorite characters in my writing, most particularly Argos the white wolf, but they are not fursonas. I am not my characters. Nor am I Altivo, but… Altivo is certainly me in many respects.

If you think about that last statement, I believe it will make sense. In a fursona, we selectively present elements from our own personalities, while suppressing or hiding others. The fursona is an aspect or a representation of ourselves, as we might wish to be, as we prefer to perceive ourselves, or in a few cases, to release some pressures that we do NOT want to let out in real life.

^seconded -

I’ve never used “fursona,” “persona,” etc as representing myself, possibly because like Munchkin I detest pretty much any word/pun containing “fur” or “yiff” - people using “furs” as a synonym for “people” in stories has always irritated me - but also because my coyote isn’t a character or an idealised self, he’s just me with fur. I hung around the outskirts of the fandom since maybe 2008 and when four or so years ago I first came up with a specific animal to represent myself I used a wolf, because it was kind of the standard thing to do, and anyway I’d had an affinity for werewolves from the time I was quite young. After a little while of that, when I became more involved with furry fans, I switched to a coyote because coyotes are the animal I feel best represents my personality. My coyote has no differences from me beyond the physical species difference and name (there’s times I wished I used my legal name here too) - same likes/dislikes, same dreams, same fears, same talents, same flaws, same bodytype - and isn’t an avatar or some guise I assume to play a different role. To some extent he’s more real to me than my human RL counterpart, as friends I’ve met through the furry fandom generally know me better than those outside, since due the to the fandom being [on whole] largely a pretty accepting place, I am generally more genuine within it than elsewhere, the which seems to be a common experience for many people.

Given that Jay spawned from a character in one of my novels, I’ve never been sure if he’s a ‘fursona’ or simply one of my characters I identify with. I think the line can be blurred somewhat when it comes to writers.