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I don’t know whether I feel proud about this or embarrassed (probably both), but this past week I got the urge to do something both Eris and I had been thinking about for months, namely: take pictures of myself in every outfit I have and put them in an album so that I can quickly and easily choose just the right thing to wear.

Neither of us got our entire wardrobes online. I did all of my dresses and outfits, but none of my separates, swimwear, lingerie, shoes, hair, wings, accessories, or sleepwear. And I’m not even going to try to add things like eyes and so forth!

I’m tempted to list the handy things about this kind of inventory, but I’ll veer in another direction instead and think about what it tells me about myself, and probably about other people in Second Life.

I mean, it is practical in a way: I’ll spend less time getting dressed, be able to more easily find just the right thing, and I’m being introduced to a number of things I’ve bought but forgotten about. But what kind of person spends four hours just organizing a wardrobe she doesn’t even have? Especially when she has a new version of a game for the Diversionarium she wants to work on, not to mention an extremely demanding First Life?

But…it was fun. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it was easy, and interesting from a fashionista sort of point of view, and gave me that peaceful feeling that only totally organizing my surroundings gives me.

But it also turned me into a kind of Barbie doll for a while. Since I was taking pictures of me wearing all of these things, that means I was staring at myself the whole time, and only talking a little. It wasn’t a social activity or exploring another world: it was like sitting down at a mirror and spending four hours doing my hair and makeup.

Self-obsession is a time-honored tradition in Second Life, but at a certain point we probably want to consider that it’s unhealthy. What is that point, though? Is it more worthless to spend four hours organizing your wardrobe than it is to spend four hours watching two so-so movies?

One problem with it, clearly, is that it’s a little dehumanizing. The more we concentrate on our appearance in Second Life, the less, generally speaking, we’re concentrating on being who we really are (much less on who other people really are!). We choose our appearance in that world, so it is self-expression, but it’s not nearly as expressive as what we say and what we do.

So if I did this all the time, I’d know for sure to be worried. As it is, I don’t feel too, too concerned…it doesn’t feel that far out of line, especially since “dresses and outfits” was by far my biggest wardrobe category.

Most of the things I have in my Second Life wardrobe are ones I wouldn’t be likely to wear in First Life. In First Life it’s important to me to be taken seriously, not seen as a decoration, and in First Life it’s more dangerous and more socially awkward to go everywhere trying to be as pretty as possible. In Second Life, most of the rules are off, and I can wear something like this or this or even this without feeling I’m setting myself up for any trouble.

(A friend remarked recently, when I described one of my outfits as barely suitable for wearing in public, that it was nothing compared to some things she went out in sometimes, and it’s true: I try not to go out in public in clothes that are designed for the bedroom. Depending on where you are and who you are with, wearing a very provocative outfit is kind of bringing sex into the room with you, and I’d rather not be the one responsible for that in public situations.)

There was one unexpected, bad side effect of this cataloging: by the time I was done, my wardrobe seemed much less interesting to me. In a way, having dozens and dozens of different outfits I could pull out of folders offered some surprise and mystery. Some of that has vanished now, and also, having looked at my wardrobe for so long, I’m now a bit over it. There are outfits in there that I really, really like a lot, but for now, at least, they’ve lost their lustre.

But then, that might be a good thing. The less preoccupied I am with my wardrobe, the more I can pay attention to things of greater substance.

That is, at least until the next time I sit down with my virtual camera and start taking pictures of shoes. 🙂

And if for some reason you really want to peruse my 167 outfits (including different colors and styles of the same outfit), you’re certainly welcome to go to http://picasaweb.google.com/wingedkate/DressesAndOutfits and take a look around, and Eris has some of hers up at http://picasaweb.google.com/ErisFallon/ErisWardrobe .

^^^\ Kate /^^^