Plushophilia May Not Be As Uncommon As You Think
Updated February 13, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
There's a good chance you know someone who is into plushophilia, and you wouldn't even know it. It may sound shocking, but most of us have a few secrets about the personalities that we don't necessarily share with everyone we know. And many plushophiles, as people embracing plushophilia are called, are becoming increasingly open and honest about their interest.
That's not to say that plushophilia is common amongst people, but if you factor in all the people you encounter on a regular basis, it's not a stretch to suspect that at least one of them takes part in this interest.
Maybe you, yourself, have an intense interest in plush toys, or plushies as they are affectionately called. If so, you may be wondering where exactly your plushie interest fits in with the rest of your life and whether there are others out there like you. (Rest assured that there are.)
This article covers the different varieties of plushophilia, what it means to be a plushophile, and some of the places where plushophiles or others interested in plushophilia may find information or community.
What Is Plushophilia?
At its simplest level, plushophilia is an intense love of stuffed animals, also called plushies because they are made of a fabric called plush. Plush can be made from any of several different textiles, with the distinction being that it has a pile. Pile is formed by sewing the fabric into loops that rise from the surface. Modern stuffed animals are made from polyester plush, which is a synthetic material.
Plush toys come in a variety of different types. Some are cute. Some are related to a particular storyworld, TV show, or movie. What they all have in common is that they are soft, furry toys filled with stuffing. These toys are commonly given to small children as a comfort object.
Adults who enjoy having stuffed animals also tend to find them to be objects of comfort and reassurance. Also, however, adult collectors of stuffed animals may have a particular set of characteristics they look for in their stuffed friends.
Collecting Stuffed Animals
Collecting stuffed animals has been a hobby that's not only for children for much longer than the term plushophile has been around. You can easily find communities of stuffed animal collectors, many of them interested in vintage or particular types of stuffed animals. For some of these collectors, a sense of childhood nostalgia is involved in their interest in stuffed animals.
In fact, some popular retail and auction sites have sections specifically for the buying and trading of stuffed animals intended for an adult's collection.
Is Plushophilia A Sexual Fetish?
Plushophilia is considered a form of paraphilia, which is sexual interest in objects not usually given sexual value by people. Although it has been considered a mental health disorder by some, the truth is that it is more accurately classified as a fetish or sexual fetish. Plushophilia and any form of paraphilia is only a mental health disorder if the individual becomes obsessed with these fetish-related behaviors to the point that it interferes with their ability to function socially or complete tasks of daily functioning.
It should also be pointed out right at the start that some people who identify as having plushophilia do not consider their interest to be of a sexual nature, necessarily. The word fetish can, and often does, refer to a very particular sexual interest, but it can also simply denote the worship or intense devotion to a particular object or behavior.
There are both non-sexual and sexual forms of plushophilia.
For some plushophiles, the obsession with and befriending of stuffed animals do not involve sexual attraction or activities. It may be an interest they pursue as a type of play that allows them to relieve stress by throwing off some of the chains of adulthood. Allowing themselves to play with and innocently enjoy plush toys, like a child, is a type of mental relaxation.
Others may use plush toys in part of their age play. That is, they may enjoy entering a mental state where they can pretend to be children again. And again, this can be a form of stress-relieving play for adults who enjoy these activities. Many people perform this kind of play with intimate partners, where one partner allowed themselves to be taken care of and ordered around like a child. It takes away some of the pressures of adult life for people who enjoy these types of interactions. And the partner who takes on the more child-like role may use stuffed animals in entering this mental state.
In this case, the partnership with the other person may have a sexual component, but the stuffed animals themselves are not an object of sexual attraction or use.
It does not require a person to have a partner to engage in such play. Single individuals may enjoy doing child-like things typically in the privacy of their own home to relieve the stress of responsibilities they have at work or other outside roles.
It's not a far stretch to see how people form sexual bonds with their stuffed animals. Many young children utilize soft objects like pillows or stuffed animals in their exploration of masturbation. An individual who explored early masturbation in this way may hold onto that source of comfort or familiarity even as they sexually mature.
Many individuals with sexual plushophilia also engage in other sexual activities, including sexual activities with other individuals. Their plush fantasies may be one of several types of sexual fetish or interest they enjoy, and some plushophiles even combine their plush interest with activities that include a sexual partner.
More About Plushophilia
Different plushophiles have their reasons and feelings about their attachment to stuffed animals. Here are a few thoughts, though, on why people form attachments to plushies.
- A stuffed animal can never leave you.
- It's always there for you to lean on, confide in, and cry to.
- It's always there to cuddle when other people are not.
- Stuffed animal pets and friends don't die (although they may eventually get worn out), making them longer lasting sources of comfort than, for instance, a real dog, cat, or bunny.
Some adults even use stuffed animals as a form of comfort for their anxiety or depression. The good feelings associated with a particular plush toy can help them during difficult mental health periods. These people may not have any form of plushophilia, but they still find that a specific stuffed animal helps them to feel better. It's not much different from having a pet for comfort and managing your emotions.
Plushophilia On Social Media
Social media in its various forms allow people to find and communicate with other people who share their interests. If you're looking for welcoming individuals to discuss your stuffed animal interests with, you can find groups on many different forms of social media.
Reddit has a thriving plushophile community. You will find topics for both non-sexual and sexual plushophilia here. It's also a nice place for people to share pictures of their stuffed animals and discuss collections. Of course, Reddit has been known for some pretty blunt responses, so tread carefully.
If you're more of a stuffed animal collector or non-sexual plushie enthusiast, then this plushie Reddit page may be more appropriate for you.
There is also a Reddit discussion specifically about men with stuffed animals.
Tumblr brings together people of many different interests. If you're interested in sexual plushophilia, then Tumblr is the place where you're likely to find the most like-minded individuals and information about this topic.
Other Sources Of Community For Plushophiles
If you or someone you know identifies as a plushophile, it's good to have places where you feel like you belong. Multiple types of online communities exist for people with either non-sexual or sexual plushophilia. Forming bonds with other people who share your interest can help you to keep your plushophilia healthy rather than allowing it to become an addiction that isolates you socially from others. In fact, having other people who understand you can make your plush toy experiences even more exciting and enjoyable.
Stuffedparty.com offers a forum for stuffed animal collectors and enthusiasts. They also have a helpful section on stuffed animal grooming, to keep plush friends in the best condition possible.
Fanpop.com is a general website for various types of interests, and they have online groups for stuffed animal collectors, specifically. These groups also allow people to post in forums and give tips to each other.
You can also find more general forums where the discussion of the stuffed animal collection is a supportive topic.
For those with a sexual plushophilia interest, you can find discussions for legal adults only.
You can also find people with similar interests or at least those who are open to befriending plushophiles at general sexual fetish and kink communities.
Another option for discussing your plushophilia or need for a stuffed animal without worrying about a negative response is to find an open-minded counselor you can talk to about your exploration of this interest.