Adolescence is a tough time. Many teens feel like they don’t fit in, making them retreat from the world since nothing is going right. The transition to adulthood creates many questions, such as what path to take, causing teens to rebel. Over the years, numerous fads emerged, some positive and others destructive. Aside from these, sometimes teens join a clique who deliberately stand out by wearing outrageous clothing. Sometimes, groups of teenagers take their clothing choice to extremes, dressing up like Furries, or different types of cats.
In 2019, Rolling Stone ran an article about Generation X and why they dress up like furries. One mother talked about her nine-year-old daughter, Emily. As the piece progressed, she detailed how her child is “anxious and withdrawn,” including never being asked to join in playdates. However, once she puts on a pink zebra costume, she becomes an entirely different person. Instead of shying away from other people, there’s no concern about getting in the middle of a group. Additionally, she is outgoing and freely engages with everyone. Furries are gaining in popularity, including conventions like comic cons. Midwest FurFest is a yearly event where people can talk to TikTok social influencers who dress up like animals. Like other subcultures, people are quick to judge these people thinking they are weird or deviate from a social norm.
However, there isn’t one reason why people dress up like cats. Some, like Emily, feel more socially accepted in full costume; others enjoy cosplay and like to draw and create characters. Whatever the reason, this trend results from the growing number of influencers helping awkward children and teens make geek culture a social norm. Many furries even have cult followings like Halfy and Barry Angel Dragon. One furry, Pyxe, stated that most of his followers are girls between 13 and 18, not typical in this subculture. Young girls prefer the innocent side of the subculture. At the same time, adolescent males prefer the darker side, which caters more to adults. Now, in Kentucky, there are a group of students who’ve created a tribe of Furries choosing to dress up like cats when they go to school.
Meade County, Kentucky
One of the things that makes the students at Meade County High School stand out from other furries is they are not just violating the dress code, but they are also disrupting school. Parents and administration are expressing growing concern. One grandmother told iHeart, “apparently, from what I understand, they’re called ‘furries.’ They identify with animals. These people will hiss at you or scratch at you if they don’t like something you’re doing.” Many children don’t want to go to school since the Furries’ behavior creates a hostile learning environment. The anonymous complaint isn’t the only time the situation received attention, nor is it a new issue. The school has had an ongoing problem with teens behaving like this since last year. Superintendent Mark Martin addressed the problem in a statement. Many things he talked about included discipline-worthy offenses and severe violations of the dress code policy. However, he refused to go into detail about what the school’s guidelines are for discipline. The problem has become such a problem; students started a Change.org petition.
The students feel it’s unfair because there is no tolerance policy on hats. However, this group is wearing a full costume. Additionally, they noted that when a fellow student asks them not to hiss or scratch, it’s not the furry who receives corrective action but the student who feels threatened. Reading through the comments, students parents and guardians all had strong words. One parent felt that equal rights are necessary, but there is no equality since students cannot wear hats, making her son feel more comfortable. Still, there has been little to no corrective action for the distracting students and far exceeds dress code guidelines. Another felt this situation is “scary” because it’s the next generation who will one day graduate and need to integrate into more mainstream society. Currently, the petition has over 1,000 signatures.
Dress code aside, the biggest problem is that these kids are taking over the school. It isn’t easy to concentrate on schoolwork when someone is sitting next to you wearing a costume. It seems like much of the issue stems from influencers and other people on social media who pride themselves on being different from everyone else. During the 90s, the height of rebellion was wearing flannel and trenchcoats. However, there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of social media avenues leading to a barrage of destructive trends. Sure, you were able to classify students by their dress quickly, typically the Abercrombie preppies or the goth kids. Yet over time, as challenges and other destructive things have started becoming commonplace, it seems there is nothing kids won’t do to get attention. Moreover, all the information available seems to reward these kids for their outrageous behavior while letting serious students fall behind. The pandemic is responsible for a lot of social unrest. However, for the kids in Kentucky, it’s a disturbing trend that they identify with another species and want to terrorize a school.
Asha Bhosle once said, “I have always been rebellious, but that is because I wanted to do different things.” Much like this quote, the teens in Mead County are spreading their wings and trying out something new. Even though it seems like a foolish choice to many parents, guardians, administration, and other people in the county, it’s another in a long series of trends that catch on quickly because social media makes it seem socially acceptable. There is time and a place for children and teens to express themselves. Yet, when it becomes distracting and disruptive, it’s something that shouldn’t progress. Nonetheless, as the old saying goes, “talking to a teen is like trying to nail jello to a tree.”