Dawn had fun creating her Simpsons’ avatar and she raises some good points about avatars. Do they represent us or are they some imaginary creature very different from the real us? I feel a little defensive because it seems that the way that I created my avatar(s) (yes, I have more than one!) according to Dawn shows how I’m lacking in self-esteem. Maybe there’s truth to that. But what if my avatar is an expression of my creativity?
I get up, dress for work, and have only so many options on what to look like that day. In Second Life, the options are limitless. When I first joined I tried all kinds of looks, and thought of my avatars’ looks as a way to show my avatar-designing creativity. I had several shapes that I used. In time I came to use one or two and eventually settled on the one that represents me the best. How a sweet looking oriental girl represents me, well, I don’t know. Yet she’s nice and helpful with folks, she enjoys any kind of educational or game event, and she likes attention, but doesn’t use her body to get attention. When anyone in Second Life (SL) can have a super body it’s not about showing off tits and ass.
Yesterday, I was playing around in SL and someone showed up looking for land in the neighborhood. We talked for a bit and then he paused and then asked the question I love, “You have a great looking avatar. Did you design it yourself?” I could answer yes quite proudly. I love to hear that something I designed stands out in a creative way. I try to make her look real. Even my “hot” avatars still have bodies that can be real looking.
What does this mean? The gentleman I met yesterday did create an avatar that resembled himself. None of my avatars that go out in “public” look like me. Am I wrong for working hard at not looking like my real life self? Or am I creating a vision of the me that I always wanted to be? I don’t go for the extreme skinny, big breasted, long-legged female avatars and am trying for something a little more tame, but with a special look. Is that reason to be proud? Do the people with avatars who do have that model or stripper look feel proud of how they created something different than their real life selves? I know that I roll my eyes at how they present themselves in SL, yet I have another avatar who does more resemble that look. She doesn’t get out much but when she does, let’s just say that her wardrobe runs to the trashy side. Though I am thinking of picking up some nicer wear for her too, because I’m allowing my main avatar, Moran, to dress a little darker and punkier and am not sticking with the sweet look I’d been keeping her in. Or I like the fact that an avatar can be a Grace Kelly one day, a Gidget the next, and a grungy tramp the day after that. So when the event calls for it, Moran may dress and look very differently than I originally had planned when creating her.
See? Moran has a personality that is taking over my ideas of what she should wear and do. Is this role-playing and am I using my acting ability just like Dawn says? Is it that I’m getting comfortable with Second Life and am creating a place for myself?
Of course, I do see my avatar as a way to express a part of myself that I don’t express in real life. Or I don’t express it visually in real life. My body, hair, eyes, torso length, and head size are set and some things about me I can never change. While in SL I can buy all kinds of outfits and not break the bank. Moran can look the way that I never expected to look. I call SL Barbie for Adults, but having an avatar is becoming more than that. She does highlight a part of me. Maybe I can’t present this part of me in real life due to self-esteem issues or other emotional problems. But that’s why I love SL — I’m able to show facets of myself that don’t get a chance to shine in my daily life.
When I joined SL and started playing around with avatars I didn’t plan on the fact that it would become something as representative of me, unlike playing with the Simpsons avatar creator — with that I was trying to represent myself as a Simpson character (just for fun with the image is stuck to my office door). Now I’ve become invested in how I look in SL and don’t see me changing be like my real life self, though I am wearing glasses a lot more in SL. Hey, in SL I can own 20 pairs of glasses in all colors and shapes — why not wear ’em?
Anyway, I don’t know what to think about our avatar appearance. Dawn asks for comments at her site and most of her readers don’t seem to be SL types. If you have an avatar in SL or other gaming environment, what path did you go down: the real or the fantasy? Moran wants to know.