Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Episode 383: I Like My Body

I've been thinking a lot about this sudden "It's ok to be big!" thing that's going on in SL.

You know, one of the main questions I get asked is "Are you as cute and little in real life as you are in SL?" Well, no. The person behind Alicia Chenaux is not blonde, definitely not thin, and doesn't have the terrific perky rack. :-p When I came to SL, I shaped and molded my avatar into what I personally believed looked good. I love being a petite avatar. I LOVE that when I walk into a room filled with 7 foot Glamazons, I am different. I made an avatar that looks the way I feel inside.

But now I feel like those of us who are small are almost under attack! I forget what I was reading, but a comment was made that they hoped one day overly idealized avatars would be considered tacky and noob. What?? What does that mean? Am I overly idealized, or am I the other side of the coin? What exactly is this person talking about? The "models" of SL that all look the same with their 6'5 thinner bodies? The super tall women with the huge boobs and butts? The avatars that are not proportionate and have watermelon butts? Exactly what ideal are they referring to?

If there's now an outpouring of "Yay, I'm gonna look like my RL self!" love, then what happens to the rest of us who don't WANT to look like ourselves? What if we LIKE being thin and small? Does this mean suddenly we're in the pro-anorexia club by default? Or does our height now save us because we're in the 5'9 and under range?

All I'm saying is that if SL society expects us to love an overweight avatar, then they have to love those of us who are short and thin. Because I am NOT changing my avatar. I am NOT going to be made to feel bad because I choose not to have a lot of body fat. And I am NOT going to stop taking pictures of random women who have watermelon butts. That's just a public service. I like myself, in both worlds, and I hope the rest of you like yourselves, too, no matter WHAT your avatar looks like.


CeN said...

The tricky thing with this whole topic is that all of us who feel guilty about the shape we choose are probably not the problem.

You are petite, not anorexic looking, your height definitely balances your size. There is nothing wrong with fit and thin and perky, your anorexic model pictures show the clear difference.

For me, I'm tall, because I'd love love love to be taller in RL, and I like being of similar height to the guys I dance with or ride on the back or motorcycles with or... well you know.

Being tall I had to make some of my sliders bigger in my mind to be proportional, but maybe I'm still too thin. You wouldn't know it by the shopping issues I have, from boots that won't fit my calves to texture that warp and distort over my hips.

I'm not sure who that commenter was talking about but we shouldn't judge someone on what they look like, no matter WHAT they look like. The real issue is that these groups that advocate an unhealthy lifestyle and glorify a serious disorder.

Terri said...

I agree that we should be able to look in SL the way we want without feeling guilty. I got my shape from a freebie box and I love it! I think she is perfect. Do I look like that in RL..hell no but this is a game after all so why would I want to look like myself in the game? I'm not too thin, not too heavy, not too short and not too tall in SL...I think I am just right. I do keep some of my RL features. I am usually a brunette and I like to be a little tan since I am hispanic and I usually have brown eyes but, I look at this, like a dress up game sometimes so I like to mix things up. Oh, and I also like to sit at the computer and stare at my avatar and comment on how pretty she is! LOL! I think she's hot!

Wrath said...

I didn't adjust my SL® height or weight or shape on purpose - I bought a shape that came with all those settings. (Okay, and I was a noob at the time and thought I was buying a really cheap skin since the poster failed to mention it was just the shape for sale, but hey, I wasn't going to let that hard-earned L$200 go to waste!) And in RL, I happen to be HWP also, just maybe not quite the 7' that my SL® self ended up being. Sure hope I never get discriminated against for it, though. I didn't choose an avatar height of 7' because I want to be taller in RL, and if I had not bought a shape, I would still be whatever default height SL® gives the male avatar I chose when I signed up. Because I'm lazy and not so creative, and I'm okay with that. ;-)

Personally, I wouldn't think twice if I saw a really skinny avatar, or a really robust looking one. Why? Because I know the difference between an avatar and a RL person, so I'm not too worried about their controller's health or mental state based on their avatar's appearance.

Quaintly Tuqiri said...

Quaintly is also slimmer than my RL self. She doesn't look anything like me - hair colour, facial features, body shape, eye colour, anything!! lol

After reading all the controversy, I was wondering - is it wrong to want to be perfect in a pixel world? We know we can't be perfect in RL, so if we choose to sorta live out our unattainable dreams in SL, is that wrong? Is that escapism or something? Talk about reading too much into things!

Alicia Chenaux said...

The real issue is that these groups that advocate an unhealthy lifestyle and glorify a serious disorder.

You are exactly right. It's really not about our avatars at all in the grand scheme of things.

Terri - I look at my av constantly and think "OMG, I'm cute!" What's really funny is that I still take that mindset with me when I'm out and about in the real world. Not that that's a bad thing. :)

Wrath - You know, the thing that got me about you is that you are actually on the thin side as far as male avatars in SL go. When I first met you, I had been hanging out really muscled men, and so it was kind of cool to meet a guy that was long and lean. But I never remember thinking, "Holy cow, what's wrong with him? Is he anorexic?" LOL

Quaintly - Oh, I agree! It's a virtual world where you can be anything you want. If I wanted to be my RL self, what really would I be here for? LOL To NOT fit into a skirt? To NOT look good in a swimsuit? I can do that here at home, thanks. :) I think people just need an issue to be for or against. Someone will rip off another skin or start a group that promotes crack babies, and this will be pushed aside again.

Bone said...

What's next? Are we going to be expected to accurately represent our RL financial and social status in world now too? So, is it a good time ask if the Viper Pit needs a glorified secretary, by any chance? And where in SL can I rent shitty studio apartment overlooking a dumpster with elderly neighbours that smell of cabbage?

Does the problem stem from the misconception that by not accurately representing our body type in SL, we are somehow making a statement that we are not happy with our RL selves?

And does this mean that furries are resentful of being born human? Surely it's not that our avatars exist in a world of limitless possibilities, a world where the very laws of physics can be defied, a world where we are only limited by our imagination... Right?

Alicia Chenaux said...

Bone, best comment ever. LOL That is something to wonder about. The whole pro-eating disorder groups thing aside, what comes next in some peoples' quest to make SL into RL? What about people who live in castles and have elf avatars and run around in "couture" clothing that they couldn't afford in RL? Do we suddenly stop living our dream and start wearing Wal-Mart socks and eating generic mac & cheese? Do the men who like to play with monster trucks put them away because they can't afford the gas?

Btw, we're not hiring at the Viper Pit, but if you're looking for a shitty apartment above a dirty convenience store, we have one. I can't promise cabbage smell, but there's some meat in the diner that's been cooking a long time.

Tiara Hirons said...

Do we suddenly stop living our dream and start wearing Wal-Mart socks and eating generic mac & cheese? (from alicia )

It's a dream! and we all always say Sl is Sl and rl is rl, don't we?
of course we can look what we want to look ,as long as we don't forget ,who we are.
maybe not so much who we are in rl, no who we are inside!
cause character and intelegince , nobody can give you, not in sl and not in rl. you have it or you don't.

greetings,the everyday a bit thinner Tiara (joke ;P)

Krissy said...

Why are people starting to look at avi shapes, when the heart of the issue is the *promotion* of pro-ana group membership? I also have a petite avatar. But I see the 'high fashion' models of SL and many of them look like rl versions of botox, facelifts and plastic surgery (eyebrow lifts, lip injections). I like that my avi looks 'natural', as though she were just born with decent DNA. I just think this whole pro-ana thing has started to lose focus. It should be about the disorder and lifestyle that is being promoted, not an avatar's appearance.

chestnut rau said...

I do not choose to be fat or have shiny oily skin or huge boobs or even be a furry. When I see people make choices like that I might shake my head but I personally would not joke about it either. It would suck to be made fun of for your choice to be small or big or green or hairy or tiny or whatever. For me its a "do unto others" kind of thing.

Alicia Chenaux said...

No, I do agree. Things are shifting away from the actual issue of the pro-eating disorder groups and focusing on how someone looks. And as anyone who has had experience with this issue before knows, these disorders aren't about how someone LOOKS at all.

Anonymous said...

omg. I've seen some of the bigger girls out & about, and some of them are workin' it. good for them & their confidence. Personally, when I came into SL I wanted a fantasy experience where I was a totally different person, about the only thing me and my av have in common is that we're both female. I don't look anything like Aisuru and I'm not even Asian. So I guess what I'm saying is that its a free experience that you can make up for yourself, and be whatever size/height/race/species and no one should really be able to say boo about it. (yeah, even the anorexics-though I hope they're getting some kind of help IRL)

and while I'm busy not saying boo about it I'll reserve the right to take snaps of your glowy-skirted, blinged-out, 7ft tall with 5 ft legs self and send them to the SL fashion police. lol.

Aisuru Rieko

Creag Emmons said...

Appearance, yeesh what a swamp. I hit my first overt example of "apppearancism" when I tried to find hair with silver temples like I have in RL. The way people reacted, you'd think I wanted to wear pieces of dismembered babies on my head. Actually, no, I think I could have gotten away with that.

My av is idealized, yes, but it's MY damn ideal, my mental picture of myself at my best. If a guy wants to be 8' tall with 3' wide shoulders and a 20" waist, fine. I'd rather have a look I can relate to emotionally, so I've got my own body at age 28, my face at 38, the goatee my RL wife won't let me have and the hair my SL fiancee likes.

Alicia, your av is gorgeous. And that doesn't really matter. you should be able to look the way YOU want to look. If someone has a problem with that, it's their problem, not yours. And if that problem keeps them from relating to you, well then you've just filtered out someone you probably didn't want to know anyway.

Shay said...

Interesting topic. I tend to think of my avatar as a paperdoll to have fun with and dress up so I have lots of different shapes, hair, etc. Never look the same from week to week. For me this is escape, fantasy and in someways like an enhanced IM since I really came in to visit friends and family who are in different states so its just a neat way to stay in touch and feel like you are more there with them then in email. I also notice there are issues with clothes when you are bigger so I will take the easy way out. I just don't want to spend time on stuff like that when I can be visiting family and exploring SL. I don't have the patience for it either. I don't think anyone should be judging anyone by shape here although I understand the concern with anyone encouraging anorexia since that is a life and death issue.