Is this fur real?
Mainstream companies are launching sexy, new merchandise seemingly marketed at the furry subculture — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Furries are an anthropomorphic community whose members sometimes dress up as animals at conventions, or who have a special “fursona” with whom they connect.
At least 250,000 Americans identify as “furries,” and many in the fandom use the subculture to explore their sexual side.
No doubt some furries are thrilled that Build-A-Bear — which has been selling stuffed teddies for children since 1997 — has now developed a raunchy range of “After Dark” bears for adults ahead of Feb. 14.
“Who said stuffed animals were just for the kids? Why should they get to have all the fun? a promo for the naughty, new “After Dark” collection reads. “The Build-A-Bear stuffed animal gift collection has something for everyone.”
One Teddy bear in the collection is clad in a Hugh Hefner-style silk robe. In a promotional picture, the toy is positioned lying on a shag-pile carpet next to a red rose and two glasses of Champagne, as if it were about to seduce someone.
BarkBox — a company selling dog products, services and experiences — has gone one step further, creating “Bark After Dark,” a range of “unintentionally spicy” dog toys clearly designed to appeal to furries.
“Ahead of Valentine’s Day, BARK, the makers of BarkBox, is releasing a range of new toys to help dogs and dog parents embrace their truest selves,” the company enthused in an email promo.
Of particular interest is a stuffed dog toy named “Murray The Furry” — a fictional human character who likes to dress up as a squirrel and is clad in a thong.
“Murray celebrates dogs who have always known there are a lot of ways to play. As long as no one gets hurt, they don’t judge, and neither do we. Play on, you dirty dogs,” a description of the $15 soft toy reads on the company’s website.
It appears alongside an image of the product being chewed by a satisfied canine.
The range also features several dog toys that are shaped like adult sex toys, including the “Bacon Flavored Party Favor,” which retails for $12.
Furries have been around for decades but were recently thrust back into the spotlight following a rumor that a Michigan school put a litter box in one of its bathrooms for “the kids that identify as cats.” The rumor was later debunked.
“It is a shame that the furry community still endures (some) negative media portrayals and public misperception as deviants because the truth of this remarkable and resilient community is far more interesting,” Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, associate professor at the University of Waterloo and a co-founder of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, told The Post.
At the same time, furries such as Joe Strike are taking the high road and believe that, over time, the community will benefit from the increasingly de-stigmatized and mainstream subculture.
“I think that, in the long run, this kind of attention will help us,” Joe Strike, who identifies as a furry and penned the 2017 book “Furry Nation,” told The Post.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism