Three people dressed in fursuits, representative of their respective fursonas.
Three people dressed in fursuits, representative of their respective fursonas.

A fursona is a personally disclaimed persona resembling an anthropomorphic animal adopted by a member of the furry fandom.[1][2] Fursonas can provide numerous roles for the creator, whether it be idealized versions of their adopter, fleshed out roleplay characters, or digital mascots.[3] According to The New Science of Narcissism, 95% of those in the furry fandom have at least one fursona;[4] with the Anthropomorphic Research Project estimating that the average furry has between two and three fursonas over the course of their life.[5]

Some individuals' fursonas are acted out primarily online,[6] but also at furry conventions and in other public spaces. Acting out one's fursona in person may involve wearing a fursuit, a physical representation of a fursona, or pieces thereof, depending on the activity.[7][3] For example, a fursuiter may choose to only wear the head of the suit in higher temperature environments to reduce the risk of overheating. A small minority of furries express a desire to become, or already see themselves as, their fursona species. These people may additionally identify as therians or otherkin.[8]

History and etymology

The term "fursona" is a portmanteau of the words "furry" and "persona".[9] Fursonas become commonplace in the fandom by the mid-1990s.[10]

Fursona species

This section needs expansion with: there are more species i think most would deem notable and may qualify for a short list. You can help by adding to it. (February 2024)

Despite what the name would suggest, fursonas may be any animal species,[11] whether it be real, mythological, fictional, extinct, or hybrid creatures.[6]

According to the Anthropomorphic Research Project, among the most common fursona species are wolves, foxes, dogs, red pandas, mustelids, marsupials, big cats, and dragons;[12][7] less common examples for fursonas include rodents, rabbits, reptiles, birds, cows, goats, cetaceans and horses;[7] furries most rarely use primates as the basis for their fursona.[12]: 1 

Fursona creation

The creation of a fursona has been described as "one of the most universal behaviors in the furry fandom".[12] One study found that furries also tend to create fursonas to distinguish themselves from each other.[13]

Although the inspiration varies from individual to individual, many furries describe their fursona being inspired by their favorite media or mythology. However, the majority state that their fursona was primarily internally generated.[14] The majority of furries also cite shared characteristic as a reason for choosing a particular species.[14] These are usually archetypal traits as ascribed to the species by humans, as opposed to actual animal behaviors.[6] Some popular fursona species are particularly strongly associated with certain traits, for example, dogs being considered ‘loyal’ or rabbits being considered ‘promiscuous’.[14]

Some furries state that they simply have an innate connection to their chosen species.[14] A small minority believes that their chosen species was a past life, is a spirit guide, or that they were supposed to be born as such. These notions overlap strongly with the experiences of otherkin and therianthropy.[14]

Furries often take a long time to decide on their fursona.[3] 25 to 50% of furries surveyed have had more than one original character over the course of their lives, and about 25% stated that they had more than one concurrently.[14] Furries with multiple fursonas usually do not see them as representing multiple selves, but facets of the same self, possibly related to how they express themselves in different social contexts.[6] Additionally, the characteristics of a fursona may change over time along with its owner.[3][6][11] This is usually in personality, but species may change as well.[6]

Just as art is central to the furry fandom in general, it also plays a critical role in the creation and representation of fursonas. Furries who are not artistic themselves may commission artwork of their fursona from other members of the fandom as part of the creation process.[6]

Relationship with self

Jake Dunn argues that a furry’s fursona cannot be separated from their own sense of self, and many furries in fact see the performance of their fursona as a way of being their ‘truest’ self.[6]

On average, furries rate their fursonas higher on all dimensions of the big five personality traits. They view their fursonas as having more desirable traits than they do, and fewer undesirable traits.[14] Various researchers suggest that there is an extent to which fursonas serve as idealized versions of their owners.[14][3][11][12] Projecting this idealized self can ease social tensions and reduce social anxiety.[11] Dunn also argues that eventually, these idealized traits are incorporated back into the self. While he notes that the most common idealized traits given to fursonas are also considered ideal by society at large,[6] S. E. Roberts et al. hypothesize that to some, fursonas serve as a safe way to explore traits that are socially undesirable.[15]

Furries are often highly concerned with their fursona being unique. When they deem that their fursona has been ‘copied’, their sense of self may be threatened.[16]

Furries may use their fursonas to explore their conceptualization of their gender and presentation,[11] and some fursonas have a different gender, age, or sexual orientation than their own.[6] Transgender furries with a sense of gender identity and generalized identity that does not match their physical appearance or sex assigned at birth frequently possess a fursona or fursonas that present their idealized selves. Similar situations exist for those with other kinds of body dysphoria and related struggles.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ "Words We're Watching: 'Furry' and 'Fursona'". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  2. ^ "Dictionary.com | Meanings & Definitions of English Words". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  3. ^ a b c d e Maase, Jakob (2015-07-01). "Keeping the Magic: Fursona Identity and Performance in the Furry Fandom". Masters Theses & Specialist Projects.
  4. ^ Campbell, W. Keith; Crist, Carolyn (2020-09-29). The New Science of Narcissism: Understanding One of the Greatest Psychological Challenges of Our Time—and What You Can Do About It. Sounds True. ISBN 978-1-68364-403-3.
  5. ^ "International Furry Survey: Summer 2011". FurScience. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dunn, Jake (2019-01-01). "Self as Gem, Fursona as Facet(s): Constructions and Performances of Self in Furry Fandom". Award Winning Anthropology Papers: 17.
  7. ^ a b c Plante, Courtney N.; Reysen, Stephen; Roberts, Sharon E.; Gerbasi, Kathleen C. (2016). FurScience! A summary of five years of research from the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (PDF). Waterloo, Ontario: FurScience. pp. 6, 34, 50–74. ISBN 978-0-9976288-0-7. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Bronner, Simon J.; Clark, Cindy Dell (2016-03-21). Youth Cultures in America [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-4408-3392-2.
  9. ^ Walker, Ben. "The Spaciality of Community in the Digital Age: A Furry Case Study". Academia.
  10. ^ Silverman, Ben (May 2020). Fursonas: Furries, Community, and Identity Online (PDF) (MSc thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. p. 18
  11. ^ a b c d e Zainudden, Dzachary (2021-01-03). "My fursona and me: a tail of identity". The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  12. ^ a b c d Austin, Jessica Ruth (2021-08-26). Fan Identities in the Furry Fandom. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. pp. 1, 2, 57. ISBN 978-1-5013-7542-2.
  13. ^ Plante, Courtney N.; Reysen, Stephen; Brooks, Thomas R.; Chadborn, Daniel (2021-10-19). CAPE: A Multidimensional Model of Fan Interest. Stephen Reysen. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-9976288-2-1.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Plante, Courtney N.; Reysen, Stephen; Roberts, Sharon E.; Gerbasi, Kathleen C. (2016-06-01). FurScience!: A Summary of Five Years of Research from the International Anthropomorphic Research Project. FurScience. pp. 64, 70. ISBN 978-0-9976288-0-7.
  15. ^ Roberts, S. E.; Plante, C.; Gerbasi, K.; Reysen, S. (2015-02-27). "Clinical Interaction with Anthropomorphic Phenomenon: Notes for Health Professionals about Interacting with Clients Who Possess This Unusual Identity". Health & Social Work. 40 (2): e42–e50. doi:10.1093/hsw/hlv020. ISSN 0360-7283.
  16. ^ Reysen, Stephen; Plante, Courtney N.; Roberts, Sharon E.; Gerbasi, Kathleen C. (2020-01-02). "My Animal Self: The Importance of Preserving Fantasy-Themed Identity Uniqueness". Identity. 20 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1080/15283488.2019.1676245. ISSN 1528-3488. S2CID 210378617.