Those Second Life appearance sliders-and all the tools that go with them-have a sort of sneaky appeal. You might come into Second Life wearing an avatar that looks a lot like the First Life you, but then one day you log in and say to yourself “You know, if I can stand to lose twenty pounds in my First Life, why not in my Second?” Or you don’t wait that long and trim off the extra 20 pounds (or what have you) when you start. I don’t think I have trimmed off 20 pounds, but I’ll bet I’ve trimmed off ten. Actually, I imagine it’s hard to find anyone (at least, anyone who isn’t in top shape in First Life) who hasn’t lost a little weight in translation to the screen.
It’s a bit like this for kara_timtam, who says “The other”-she means one of her two avis-“is not so perfect because it is a re-creation of the real me. Admittedly, I knocked off probably about 50 pounds. Maybe that’s narcissistic, I like to think of it as positive imagery.”
I think she’s right that it’s not narcissistic. Is it positive imagery? I think the way we tell that is whether we find ourselves making changes in our lives to be fitter or healthier or more self-expressive because of our Second Life selves. I haven’t heard of anyone doing that, but then, I don’t think people usually like to talk about looking less than perfect in First Life when they’re in Second Life among so many idealized bodies. The only problem with this attitude is if your Second Life avi sends you back to First Life despairing about your weight or face or gender or species or height or whatever you might have made different on your avi.
When I first joined Second Life, and for some months after, it was kind of a point of pride with me that I kept to roughly my First Life hair color and length and eye color. Why this should make me proud, I have no idea. Maybe it’s the Puritan idea of forgoing anything that seems self-indulgent?
keikotakamura is no Puritan, but she seems perfectly at peace in sticking with an avi that’s closely modeled on her First Life self. “My AV is a sort of flattered version of my RL self,” she says. “I tried to make the face and hair and general shape as close to me as possible. Asian eyes, little snub of a nose, glasses, pudgebelly, etc. I tend to dress better in SL because I can afford it, unlike RL. :/”
I like her attitude toward not Barbie-ing up: “What, is my sparkling personality not /bling on enough for you??” she says.
With me, though not with Keiko to date, there did come a day where I put on a dress that seemed to minimize what I had going on up front, gave my avi a good, hard look, and moved up my breast slider. It goes up and down now, between 52 and 72, as the outfit seems to demand. And then over time there were other experiments: fashion experiments, racial experiments, and recently a week where I decided to be a redhead, which felt as strange and playful to me as if I had colored my hair in First Life. I guess one of the benefits of staying having an avi that looks something like you is that changing your look is that much more exciting.
rena_mayne has done this with more self-awareness, I think, than I have. She says that her avi “started out more like me, hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, and she wore the kinds of clothing I wear in real life. The more I learned about SL the more she changed and evolved. I began experimenting with different hair colors and eye colors and then different skins. I started noticing that I reacted differently to situations depending on how I looked. If I looked shy and innocent, I acted accordingly because I felt shy, and a little vunerable. If I looked fierce and sexy I acted appropriately. It was an interesting phenomenon.”
But there are some in Second Life who have other things on their agenda, and tend not to worry about the sliders. Mari McCann (mmccann), says about her child avi, “she is largely based on RL me (at that age), and contains ‘flaws’ of sorts. Glasses, freckles, a bit of chubbiness, some overbite, and some slight knock-knees are all part of her.” But Mari has also modeled children’s clothing, and it’s hard to argue that she isn’t a pretty child. With that said, she both says and demonstrates that she’s not trying to be a baby beauty queen.
tekelili goes farther than that, saying “For some reason, I play what would be considered by many to be an ugly AV, and am exceptionally comfortable wearing him. I believe he’s more ‘unique’ looking than flat out ugly, but, he’s in no way “beautiful”. He’s pale, rail thin, creepy, and rather ill looking, and not in a ‘goth’ way, rather, just unwell-looking.
Although I have two other AVs for RP/admaking, I don’t tend to be either one unless it’s for one of those activities…it seems a simple case of being comfortable in the AV.”
Don’t think this is the end of the subject, but I think I’ve gone on long enough for now. Let’s call this the end of part 2 and I’ll pick up with part 3 in the next week or so.
^^^\ Kate /^^^