Second Life allows you to create an avatar that looks however you want it to. For those who aren’t familiar with it, take a typical video game avatar customization and multiply it by a million. Imagine if World of Warcraft players could create custom skins, shapes, faces, clothing, etc. for avatars and share them with each other. That’s how Second Life avatars work.
Some people choose to make avatars that resemble themselves as closely as possible. Other people make avatars that look the way they have always wanted to in real life. Some people choose to roleplay and pick avatars that depict the type of character they want to portray. When showing Second Life to a coworker who was unfamiliar with virtual worlds, he took a whole new approach.
Second Life has sliders that let you control literally every part of your body. There is really no limit to how you can make yourself appear, you can even give yourself body parts that couldn’t possibly exist at such proportions in real life. My coworker turned up the weight slider by accident, and actually decided he didn’t want to be a skinny guy. He wanted to be an ‘overweight’ character and see what Second Life was like from that particular viewpoint. The results were pretty staggering to me.
He was completely shunned for being an un-idealistic representation of a human being. He was accused of “griefing” because he showed up to a dance club in newbie clothing and was called all sorts of terrible names. He was called ugly and grotesque, and was told to get away. Because most people pick skinny, attractive people with nice hair and nice clothes – he was marginalized. Even in Second Life there is discrimination that mirrors the world. In a place where you can be as unique and realistic as you’d like, people generally pick idealistic versions of human beings. I’ve wrote before about the real world physical pressures in Second Life.
I wonder if the concept of adipositivity and fat acceptance have translated over to Second Life at all? Do any of our readers have avatars that are closer to real life depictions of the variety in body shape? I’d love to see some screenshots and hear some personal stories, if so.