Second Life’s Avatars: Defining Beauty

Last night I wandered around Second Life a bit, taking a closer look at the people and places that are part of the adult scene. I’ve been asked by Cheri Horton to write an article about my initial experiences there for PixelPulse Magazine, which should be printed (hopefully!) in the next issue—which is available exclusively in Second Life, so if you’ve joined, you’ll be able to read all about it when it comes out. Thanks to my assignment, I’ve been approaching the scene from a reporter’s view, and that has made for a great introduction to Second Life. I’ve asked questions I might not have thought to ask, explored with an eye out for details I probably wouldn’t have noticed, and met some very interesting people as a consequence. I knew this would be fun, getting to write about my favorite subject (sex in any form), but I’m enjoying it even more than I’d anticipated. Only one thing has troubled me about it, and that is figuring out who I am in this new world. Or rather, who do I want to be, and how do I want to look?

Sexy, yes. Pretty, maybe—striking is a better description for what I want. But how do I incorporate these abstract ideas into a visual form? Except for some vague ideas about body shape and form, I hadn’t put too much thought into what my avatar (character) would look like. When it came time to edit my appearance, I was stumped. Changing my hair wasn’t a challenge, and I left my body standard, but editing my facial features was a real problem for me. Not because the settings were difficult to manage—they’re actually quite user-friendly—but mainly because I wanted my avatar to be attractive. It was only then that I realized that I don’t have any concrete idea of what I consider beautiful. I can’t even describe which specific features I find the most attractive in others, much less what I’d consider attractive for my avatar. What nose goes with which eyes? What hair style complements the cheekbones? I had no idea. Finally, I came to the same conclusion I’d arrived at when I first started noticing girls: physical aesthetics are subjective. It’s the personality that racks up points in the desirability department.

Luckily, I have a personality.

Without any clear idea of which direction to go in, I decided to fool around with the settings and see if I could make a passable image of myself. I don’t think I succeeded, but it was fun to try. I think the main impediment to achieving what I wanted was that I was trying to make my avatar reflect the “real” me. I’m not feminine, so a female figure doesn’t seem to fit the bill. On the other hand, neither am I male, nor do I know how to act like one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m either masculine or feminine, and I am more than fine with that. I don’t identify with either gender role. I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out. I like that my yin is balanced by my yang. Those qualities don’t cancel each other out. They’re not separate entities within me. Rather, they’ve merged into a whole that’s neither male nor female. That’s the real me: genderless but not sexless.

I think I’ll just stick with the basic Pamela Anderson look. It’s easier.

(Kidding. Sort of.)


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2 Comments

  • I had the same problems the first time I tried to make shapes. The truth is, I wasn’t a good observer in the past; I walked by people, even the important ones in my everyday life, barely noticing their appearance or their style. It’s not that they weren’t important for me, just that I wouldn’t be able to describe their physical *details* even if my life was at stake. Is Cathy’s nose upturned or downturned? How spaced are her eyes? I wouldn’t have been able to tell these details even if my life was at stake.

    After a couple of months in Second Life, my attention grew. Now, I can rebuild someone’s shape in Second Life if I want, or even make my own from scratch. I prefer to have a starting point, nothing beats putting a photo side-by-side on your monitor and building a rough shape with it; afterwards, you can refine it to your taste and take completely different directions then those Nature took with your model.

  • Thanks for the tips, Kitten! I used them to re-create my avatar. : )

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