Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Week in the SLife...

Inspiration comes in all forms. For me, part of this inspiration came from Orchid's previous post about people's reactions to her purple skin. The rest came through handful other people I've met in Second Life whom have decided to break through the usual Barbie Girl mold and wear a more "Real" shape.

So it got me thinking... what would it be like to walk around as a Plus Sized Avatar for a week? I created a shape, used the skin that looked the best with it, and started my week long trek through the virtual world we've all grown to love (and hate).

To start, I went with a couple of friends to 1 club I'd never been to before. The former was a strip club with the usual big boob lovelies shaking their oil lathered bodies and gliding up and down slick dance poles. The hostess didn't even acknowledge I had walked in, and the other patrons (mostly other female AVIs) left me alone. I left after about 15 minutes of watching these hourglass shapes gyrating around me.

The next day I had 2 DJ sets back-to-back. Beforehand I decided to do a little shopping at a couple of stores known for more sexy women's clothing: DE Designs and Nymphetamine. I admire both DoC and Paeoti's work VERY much. I've even met Paeoti before and expressed my admiration. They do designs that many other folks can only dream of. These designs are not for full-figured gals, though. ;-)

After some purchases, I went home to try on some designs. Now, if you think prim skirts are annoying on regular sized Avatars, try spending 35 minutes just to get one to look decent on a full-figured one. You can't wear Skirt layers at ALL, BTW. Your butt and hips stick out way too much. Shoes? Well since almost all women's shoes are a Size "0", you can't even choose a more realistic foot size. I also couldn't wear most of my necklaces and bracelets without seriously altering them. Hair also had to be fixed since my head was bigger, and many longer styles I have didn't look right hanging on my shoulders.

Many designers (and Linden Labs) by nature tend to make their outfits according to the size 2 to 8 gal. Is this wrong? No. It just makes things tougher if you want to look different.

To further test how this shape would effect my overall SL experience, I wore the shape to some of my DJ gigs and to sets by other DJs at the same places. Overall responses by my closer friends went something like this:

EP: looks real lol
EP: I think you are cuter

mC: lol you still look pretty hot tho :P

SD: I love ya no matter what *hugs*

Guen: It's called 'Do folks treat Guen different if she's fat'
LF: i would hope not
LF: same person

BUT, some others were a bit more blunt with their responses...

PK: uh...getting a start on the holidays?

PT: so that the extreme anti-makeover?
PT: guess she's just retaining water

SB: come hither fatty

The biggest question was if this shape was going to effect my sets. Folks are there to HEAR the DJ instead of look, right? Surprisingly, my tips actually stayed about the same at Sanctuary Rock though I didn't receive nearly as many requests from folks. My tips at Valhalla's went down due the drop in the population of clubgoers.

I didn't think much about the reactions until on Friday I decided to show up in my normal shape to Sanctuary Rock. Tips went up, requests went up, and I even had 3 patrons comment in IMs to me that they loved how sexy my Avatar looked. I know they were meant as compliments, but after nearly a week of wandering around with the full-figured look I just couldn't get myself to appreciate them.

What this all boils down to, folks, that while we are given the option to create anything we wish in Second Life including how our Avatar looks... there is still a 'norm' that many folks expect. This norm generally involves shapes, sizes, and colors that many see in today's pop culture. When someone steps 'outside the box', often the first reactions from other folks are not the prettiest.

This does not mean you should go out and create the weirdest damn Avatar you can either. One must find a balance between being unique and being realistic. Mean Girls 'Oh Snap!' posts exist because someone took 'unique' to a whole new and frightening level. Even when I made my full-figured shape, I didn't move all my sliders to 100 just to make a point.

The main thing to remember is that in RL we can't just click 'Appearance' and tweak a few slider measurements. In fact I am keeping the shape to remind myself of that very fact. Besides why would everyone want to look and act like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt? That would become an extremely bland world (SL or RL), wouldn't you say?

BTW, if you want to read more about a gal who's full-figured in both SL and RL, check out the Whole Lotta Rosie blog. Not to be confused with our Rosie, this beautiful lady also has a lot of spunk. ;-)


Meghan said...

For starters, that is, seriously, the one of the hottest plus-sized shape I've ever seen. I can't seem to make a t-shirt and jeans look decent on a larger avatar for the life of me, so well done!

I have often said that my main avatar is me, minus 50-70 pounds and a few ribs, plus implants and hair extensions. She's still curvier than a lot of the stereotypical avatars - finally had to give up and create a shape without an ass for system skirts, and often have to screw around with prim skirts and prim boots - and I tried to give her my facial features, but there's no question that she's got a physique that I would classify as "idealized".

That being said, I'm quite open about my RL identity - have a picture posted under the "1st Life" tag, have given photos to friends I've met on the grid, etc. And I've been told by those friends that they see the resemblance, and that they think my RL appearance is attractive as well - and I smile and nod politely.

I also have an alt that has a figure closer to mine that I use primarily to spend time with my RL husband, since I'm in a commuter marriage for the time being. He's familiar with both avatars and confirms that the alt looks more like the "real" me, and that he loves the way she looks because of that. But... I can't seem to find clothes that look attractive on her in my eyes. I can't seem to look at her and feel the same affinity for her that I do with my "main" identity, or act with the same confidence.

Would I have the courage to swap shapes for a day, have my main avatar wear my "real" figure around her friends and companions? Well, I haven't so far, even around the ones who have seen and shown appreciation for RL pictures of me. And your experiences notwithstanding, while writing this all out, I'm wondering... is the problem really with the idealized world of SL, the attitudes of others, the infernal issues with the clothing mesh and the prevailing fashions being offered... or is the problem, still, ultimately with me?

Rosie Barthelmess said...

First, thank you for the shout-out!

I've been a plus-size avie since my first day in SL. I have to admit, when I first started in SL, it was to spend time with some friends who were already completely enamored of the world and I had no idea how much innate bias really exists when everyone can become an idealized version of whatever they want.

At least once a week, I get the following question: "Can I ask you something? Why would you choose to be fat in SL?" The wording is occasionally different, but the sentiment is always the same. "If you could make yourself perfect, why would you want to be imperfect?"

I'm definitely heavy-set in SL and have encountered all the problems listed in this blog entry -- prim attachments not fitting, things needing serious modification, some or most prim skirts being out-of-bounds, system skirts being "no freakin' way" -- it's okay, I get a chuckle out of it most days now, and I still play the lotto when I see something adorable that I hope I can mod for myself. The nice news is, lots of SL designers are getting interested in making clothes that won't distort too badly or will be easily modifiable for larger avies.

All in all, being a rounder avie DEFINITELY affects my SL experience. People seem to, in general, handle me differently. An interesting example is - I recently went through a SL breakup, in which I did the breaking up. So did another avie, a friend of mine, a "SL-norm" type avie. Everyone handled me with kid gloves. Is Rosie okay? Are you all right? Are you heartbroken? It'll all be okay! But my friend? My friend had a list a mile long of people waiting in line to hook up with them.

I suppose that's the hardest thing. If you can get past the odd comments ("Nobody give Rosie a sammich!" "Wow, you're fat!" "Mooooo!" "You look like a cow!") (yes, all of those are real, I didn't make those up!) you still have to deal with the people that think you are somehow emotionally, or mentally, or personally, defective because you choose to have a larger avie.

That's okay. I use my avie as a tool to learn to love myself. Every day I love Rosie, I love myself in RL even more. I'm not trying to be a trailblazer, I'm just trying to be who I am. And I think everyone should make their avie look like whatever's going to make their SL experience more enjoyable.

It's just too bad sometimes folks get looked down on for that.

Thanks again, I'm honored for the link.

Polly said...

This is a great article! I am a shape maker and like to offer varity in my shapes so I offer 2 plus size shapes. One has been up for a while and sells fairly well, I even get thank you's from people for making a plus size avatar. Encouraged, I made a larger plus size shape...well let me tell you trying to find an outfit for her was 2 days of my life I'll never get back! I must have bought almost a thousand lindens worth of outfits. Every shirt was to short, I had to find jacket layer clothing and pants that werent hip huggers. The pants I did find I edited to be less skin tight. Too much like clothes shopping in rl!
Makes me wonder though if there will ever be a market for a plus size clothing store....

Anonymous said...

Even tho I am not a full-sized figure in SL, I get unmerciful crap for being goth.

Worst comment ever made to me? "you goth-assed nigga". I hope the guy is dead.


Daman Tenk said...

I don't think it's just plus sized avs. I am a black male in SL.

However, I think also very important is the following:

How do people expect you to be?

I have been black since day 1 in SL. As such, people expect me to be that way. If I don a white skin, people act out in horror "OMG what happened with our Daman O_o"

I can imagine though that a white av suddenly becoming black would raise some shocked comments. Though, I definitely won't say there aren't any problems.

Garrett Larkham said...

Well I think your curves are awesome, Guenevere, and I hope your observations will influence some enlighted designers.
BTW was that you at Clockwork last Tuesday?

Ananké Kronos said...

Well, since my first day of my SL i've been a full figured avatar, oh my! it has been a nightmare editing prims, i uses mens boots and sneakers, and if the item isn't modify, i must forget about it. All the people who loves me (SL and RL) met me as i am, in both lives, a big big girl (i'm about 6 ft. tall and 180 lb. weight) and one day, after my first SL rezz day, i made an experiment that i called "the stereotype me", the opposite from you, i create a hot and sexy avatar, wear it for a while and...voila!! people in clubs and shops told me how hawt i look, how sexy, real, voluptuos, etc. I wore that shape around hmm...2 months, i get bored and i'm back to my old and lovely full figured avatar. "Norm" female avatars ask me why do i made myself fat in SL if i can be as sexy and hot as i could imagine and create (i have some skills making shapes,not a big deal). Some of them can't understand that, and my passion for non-human avatars, like crabs, sirens, butterflies, trashcans, etc...There's something about a mirror effect in their avatars...a very deep desire for being the "ideal" stereotype or something...

Sowwy, my english sux i know, but hope you understood what i wrote...

mistyforeverlost said...

I have read this one and I have also read the other posting too re: purple skin.

I think it goes all different ways and sometimes depends on how you treat yourself when wearing whatever "shape" you have on. That's not to say there isn't idiots in SL...I have been slammed for looking "normal" and witnessed others beings slammed for "not normal" in appearance. But I honestly also think that alot of it is attitude, where you hang out and the people that hang there.

In the original post..SR was mentioned..that brings to mind hot avi's with tat's and short skirts. Anything else will make them uncomfortable. It would be like me as a human dropping into fur-world and expecting a warm reception...even though it is *me* out of their norm.

So maybe some of it depends on where you go as well? Idiots doubt and we do need clothing designers who are more open to catering to different sizes. If you think prims on larger avi's is hard..try getting one not to swamp you on a smaller then average avi *sighs*

Misty Harley

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your comments about this post!!! :-)

I am a Size 14 RL and have pretty much given up even attempting to return to the Size 8 I had when I was a teen. I do exercise, eat relatively well, and have a few guilty food pleasures... but for the most part I'll be stuck this way.

SLwise, as many have seen my shape is skinnier, but the face (and boobs, believe it or not) are very close to my RL self.

@ Rosie: You're very welcome! :-)

@ Polly: Wonderful idea to make Plus Size Shapes! I hope they continue to sell well for you.

@ Sunshine: *hands you a shotgun*

@ Damian: I guess when folks see you a certain way, they get used to it. People by nature prefer a "comfort zone" of sorts, don't they?

@ Garret: Yep that was me at Clockwork last Tuesday. :-)

@ Anake: Understand you just fine. :-) I can see how having a 'perfect' shape could get boring after a while.

@ Misty: Yes it does include attitude, I agree. I wore the shape but didn't act any different during my DJ sets and such. Some folks around me simply acted different. I've seen some smaller AV's struggle with skirts too, I hear ya! ;-)

Alessa Careless said...

Ohhh boy this post hits home! my avatar is a blue freckled alien with a more curvy figure than most avatars on here so not only do i have to adjust every skirt and jewelry i buy so they fit my frame (and forget about boots, my calves dont fit anything i tried yet), i have to deal with the reaction of people around me.

some of it is positive but as you guessed, some people can be more than mean :(

The final point is simple, this is SL, be who you want to be and people will either adapt or get out. I know it sucks but the people who stick around are the genuine ones anyway so consider it some form of accidental friend filtering! ^_^

keep up the good work girls :D

mistyforeverlost said...

Alessa..I love your avatar if it's the one in the picture!

I think any time you go "different" then what you have established as norm for yourself, people are going to shy away, give you hell or just plain be rude about it. Friends are idiots sometimes. I thought of changing shape to go taller (I am short RL) and was told "not to" because it wouldn't be "me" and what they associate as me. So I turned into a butterfly for a few hours *shrugs*

I often wonder if it's what we view ourselves or how others percieve us to be based on on what we present that throws people off? Idiots aside of course. They get so used to seeing us a certain way and for those that we are close with and comfortable with, they just blurt anything out when they see us appear a different way.

I have a friend who changes shapes/avi's often....I would probably ask him if he was ok if he stopped doing that for a few days in a row.

Anyway..thought I would share that Shaq is starting to make a few curvier prim skirts to go with his slender ones in the packs. His slender still don't fit me well, but my friend said the one's for plus size or curvier avi's are easier to work with and required only a few adjustments if any.

Misty Harley

paula said...


I too am not the barbie doll figure I pretend to be online. So while I appreciate your endeavor, I'm a little dismayed at the out of context "blunt" quotes you used to portray the ugly side. I am one of those people you quoted and was there for the other comments. I would consider us friends and know that you have a great sense of humor. So saying something to you like that seemed perfectly normal given that we joke around about everything and everyone when we're at Vals. To me, you were just in a costume and therefore blunt comments should've been expected.

Now, the last comment by SB (and we know what a jackass he can be) was over the line in my opinion. But you didn't mention anything about the fact that several people including myself and PT came to your defense when he said that.

Anway, great experiment, but I think it would be less skewed if you went to sims where no one knew you.


paula said... other thing. I just noticed the pic on the blog at the top. It looks more like the normal you. That is not what we saw. The av we saw was much more exagerated; shorter, larger, wearing a thong and a bra and long black stringy hair that covered your face. It indeed looked like a costume.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Paula:

Since it seems you are attempting to defend your actions and comments that were quoted, the negative feeling they evoke may have been out of place.

But, your second post demonstrates to me that you felt the avatar worn was either a costume or something to be made fun of.

Not at all what I would call a friendly comment.

SunShine *flameproof drawers on*

paula said...

reply to Sunshine:

I'm not really sure what point you were making. But I'll try to clarify my own point. Yes, to an extent I'm defending the comments, but only because they are taken out of context to show a more "extraordinary" experience. We are a group of people who hang out quite often and know each other's humor very well. To make comments like that when someone shows up differently is not out of the ordinary for our group at all...including Guen.

My second post was simply to inform the readers again how things were taken out of context. The avatar in the blog looks like the beautiful Guen that we usually see only a little larger around the arms. The avatar that showed up when those comments were made was completely different.

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