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I set out to write a post about narcissism. After all, it seemed to me that in Second Life, it’s normal to obsess over your avi’s appearance and then gaze joyfully at it for hours on end, thinking to yourself how lovely you are. (In my case, I obsess over my avi’s appearance and then gaze at Eris for hours on end, but that’s a different subject.)

And while that certainly goes on, I realized that things were more complicated than that after I began talking with everyone over at the second_lifers Live Journal group about whether they had chosen to try to be beautiful in Second Life and if so, why.

Personally, I like to be beautiful in Second Life. I’m more or less of the same mind as cyfishy, who says “Why pretty? Because we can. We don’t need breast implants or liposuction or even years at the gym to give ourselves the body shape we dream of–just sliders.” and thymeenough, who says “In real life, clothes are one of the languages we use to express status, group identifications, interests, financial background, etc. In SL, why not go a step further and use the whole avatar?”

caliah is especially interested in the self-expression Thyme talks about: I don’t think there’s any conceit in wanting to create (and look upon) a thing of beauty – it’s just our human sensibilities kicking in regardless of our moral ones. I believe the question should be – “Why conform to the accepted standards of beauty rather than establishing your own?”


Caliah

I also like to be as beautiful as I can manage without drawing unwanted attention in First Life, but it seems to take much more work and to include more flaws. In Second Life, your sense of your own beauty is limited by your creative abilities, your effort, and a little bit by how much money you have. In First life, you’re limited by genetics, habits, your understanding of nutrition, how much spare time you have, exercise opportunities, your ability to afford a wardrobe, the health of your skin and hair, your skill with makeup (if you wear it), the talent of your hairstylist, and any number of other really tricky things.

I know I’m making an obvious point there, but I’ll leap to a less obvious one: people sometimes feel guilty about looking prettier in Second Life than they do in First Life, and this is a mistake. No one has any right to tell you to look one way or another in any life unless you’ve given that right to them. Beauty does not detract from intelligence or humor or talent or kindness. It does not in itself separate you from nice people. It can attract jerks, depending on what kind of beauty it is, and it can be something people try to substitute for being good people, but it doesn’t *have* to be either of those things.

Oops, I saw a soapbox there and just jumped on it without thinking it over. Let me get back to some of these interesting thoughts people have expressed.

I already had the impression of First Life men who are Second Life women that most, as grizzygriswold says, “…seem to have made our avatar someone that we find cute and attractive.” What I didn’t realize was a point that Grizzy made and others demonstrated, that women who have male avatars seem to do the same thing. It seems obvious when I think about it!

For instance, cyfishy says “All this has changed, of course, now that I’m roaming around in a male body. Then it becomes slightly different. The male avie (pictured in the icon . . . yes, that’s supposed to be a guy!) has an even fainter resemblance to me facially, but when I was through tweaking it into a shape I was happy with I kinda took a step back and thought “Damn, what a hottie!” (What can I say? I’m a Duranie. I love me some girly-boys.) It is a curious sensation, being the kind of guy I wish I could hook up with in RL.”


Cyfishy as a girly-boy

And azureavian (Featherfoot Fadoodle in Second Life) says “i have a guy avvie that is what i like my guys to look like, and he is most often bald (except when wearing Wolverine hair, sqeee!).”

Well, there’s much more to cover, and I can see this is getting long already, so let’s call that Part I and leave more for next time.

^^^\ Kate /^^^

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