Monday Meme Challenge from Strawberry Singh…

This week’s meme at Strawberry Singh’s blog addresses a topic that has been of interest to me and to Aeon since our earliest days in SL: avatar shapes, sizes, and the range of expression we have, even with the basic humanoid avatar (not to mention the many, many other avatar types). Pop over there and check it out – there is some very interesting information and a cool challenge waiting for you, not to mention an intriguing ongoing conversation!

Proportions Challenge Questions:

  1. Do you try and keep your avatar’s body proportionate and similar to the “average” proportions pictured above? – This has always been at question for me, for as soon as I acclimated to SL, it seemed that most of the humanoid population were rather large or somehow out of proportion. I have sought only to feel comfortable in my own skin (so to speak), not to meet a general ideal. I am not at all tall IRL, and so I…umm…fall short of the average, anyway.
  2. What do you dislike the most about the SL avatar mesh? – Hands and feet have always been the weak point of avatar appearance for me. With newer shoes and the ever-improving array of mesh hands and feet – that issue is fading fast. I like what we can do with the basic avatar these days, which is pretty much anything. Hair, makeups and all kinds of tattoo layers for makeup and body art make it an adventure, even for those of us who don’t (or can’t) make such things ourselves. Skins have really advanced, in my view, and I love looking at them and trying new ones myself.  As for what else is possible…shape makers can be very inventive and I’ve seen some truly beautifully-done humanoid and other-than-humanoid avis.
  3. Does it bother you when you see other avatars that are not proportionate at all? – Not in the least. I saw a humanoid avatar the other night whose hands were quite large and dangling from very thin, long arms. The face was elongated and there was one eye and no hair, save a single row of green spikes. So what? It was an interesting look and he (or she) had very well-made unusual clothing and – from what I could tell – a kind of dour persona that was apparently a chosen part of the whole. I often see avatars who are quite bow-legged or whose eyes are widely set or who have permanently open mouths – or some other unique attribute. It’s all good!
  4. Even though this is a virtual world and people can be anything they want to be, do you feel when they are in human form, they should try to keep their proportions close to average? Oh, no. I think those of us who prefer a look that is closer to the “real world” human appearance can express that in a very wide range. Just go out into your city or town and have a look around. The range of appearance is amazing – even just basic body size and shape, not to mention facial features, clothing and hairstyles, and accessories. Travel the globe and it’s mind-boggling and exciting. Here in the virtual world, the range increases exponentially. What fun!

Thank you, Strawberry! This topic has fascinated me since my earliest days in SL. I remember talking with the brilliant woman who made my shape (still using it – just modified now) about avatar size, shape, and appearance. She actually made my shape a little smaller for me so I could be more petite – which I am in RL. I had very little experience in SL at the time, and so was still in absolute AWE of the amazing range of avatars. I have remained so, and have marveled at the creativity in avatar design and creation. The range of what we can do astounds, and I have an appreciation for pretty much every avatar I have seen. What a fine and artistic avenue of expression is (or can be) the avatar! I’ve got a few in my Inventory, and do bring them out now and again – for fun and frolic (and more tweaking, of course!).

This exercise has made me a bit contemplative. The truth is that people are so different – even as we are the same in some ways. It has always fascinated me that avatars are so often, well, larger than life. I have come to understand that this is – at least in part – because of the grid itself and the proportions of it from the beginning. Now, we can change so much more of that and present the world (and ourselves in it) in an ever-increasing number of ways including avatar size, shape, proportion, hue, and, well…you name it!

One of our friends is a satellite, another is often a tree. And in our little enclave of close friends we have faeries, wolves, vampires, ghosts, kitties, and girls-next-door as well as an assortment of extraterrestrials and humanoids of varying shapes and sizes. We love them all.

Still, I think this is an important conversation and one that I am enjoying exploring. A few of our family members and a couple of friends are reading the challenge – and some have posted at Strawberry‘s flickr page for the challenge; I think Aeon and I will as soon as we manage the time to measure and take photographs. It seems interesting to note that the readout on height in the viewer Appearance Panel is different from almost every avatar height measuring device we have ever seen – including the one that is part of Strawberry’s posting. The variation among these tools may be part of the reason this topic can be controversial or misunderstood. However, as died-in-the-wool Second Lifers, Aeon and I love the journey of discovery and we thank Strawberry for her continued and careful look into this area of the SL experience. The avatar is central, and exploring the many, many options we have for personal expression through our avatars is critically important in our view.

What are your thoughts? Pop over there and take a look!

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