By Shannine O’Neill
THIS WOMAN who dresses up as a dog says she has to deal with abuse by non-furries who refused to accept them.
Marketer and Events Coordinator Emily James (21) from London, UK, also known by her furry name Popcorn Mini, became a member of the furry community when she was just 15 years old and hasn’t looked back despite the hate she gets mainly from teenagers, as a counter balance, she uses her platform to spread positivity and individuality.
She first came across the furry fandom through YouTube videos, making her feel more and more intrigued as she delved deeper.
In the summer of 2019, Emily decided to create her own fursuit because she always had an interest in fashion and textiles, having sewn and knitted as hobbies from the age of nine.
Emily used YouTube tutorials and her own sewing skills to make her first fursuit and instantly fell in love with her colourful creation, which eventually led to her creating her own online fursuit company called Popcorn Mini in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic was at its height when Emily started her business but she was able to grow her social media channels, including 16K TikTok followers, which helped boost her creative ventures.
Through her interactions with the furry community online and at “fur-meets” in London, Emily said she has found acceptance, positivity and joy.
However, not everyone has been as open-minded and positive and Emily described how she has received hate online for her hobby.
“People dislike anyone or anything which is abnormal,” she said.
“Drag queens were once seen as weird and now are beloved, making a huge name for themselves at a global scale.
“I believe the furry fandom will follow the same path, and we are only at the beginning of an upwards journey.
“Abuse is mainly from young teenagers who are looking for any excuse to spread hateful messages.”
Even though Emily has received hate for being a furry, she has no regrets.
“I was attracted to the community because I loved the joyful energy that the community brought and I loved how adorable the fursuits are,” she said.
“The furry community was exactly what I was looking for at that time in my life – a place to express myself creatively and meet like minded people.
“For me, the furry fandom serves as an escape from reality—a delightful hobby that brings immense happiness.
“It’s important to note that dressing up as a fluffy blue cat or any other character harms no one.
“It’s simply a harmless expression of self that allows me to embrace my creativity and find solace within a warm and accepting community.”
Many people have misjudged the furry community as people wanting to identify as animals, but Emily wants people to know that that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Honestly I don’t know a single furry who identifies as an actual animal,” she said.
“We are simply humans who enjoy creating anthropomorphic characters.
“From an outsider’s perspective I appreciate it may sound similar to the furry community however they are definitely completely different.
“We are humans who enjoy anthropomorphic art.”
Emily believes the people abusing furries online are clearly lacking fulfillment in their lives.
“I truly feel sorry for them,” she said.
“They are clearly people who are not happy in life and therefore have put up barriers to come across as more alpha amongst their friends.
“If they took a step back and actually looked at the furry community as a whole, they would realise we are just a group of people who enjoy creating anthropomorphic characters and dressing up as them to spread smiles.
“Through the furry fandom, I forged lifelong friendships and found a creative outlet to express myself through artwork.”
Through the furry community, Emily has been able to grow her business and create fursuits for those who truly appreciate her work, which is a tedious labour that Emily has thrown herself into.
“In the summer of 2019, I created my very first fursuit with the help of YouTube tutorials, I learned the entire process and instantly fell in love with the craftsmanship involved,” she said.
“Fursuit making is a labour of love, with one fursuit taking up to three months to make from start to finish.
“They are completely unique, often sculpted out of foam and covered in faux fur to create the appearance of a fluffy anthropomorphic character, like those you see in films.
“A fursuit ranges between £1K to £10K depending on which maker you choose to get it from as it is an entirely custom made wearable work of art.
“Making fursuits for others became my ultimate dream, a way to share joy with fellow enthusiasts.”