Sunday, June 10, 2012

Petal goes on a diet

On Monday I went into Second Life (SL) for the first time in ages. This was to give a talk about midwifery in New Zealand, and the Virtual Birthing Unit to the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University.

It's all about appearances
When I arrived, I got a very nasty shock. Petal, my avatar, had changed! She was slim! I had forgotten that I had "loaned" her to a student midwife, who had changed her from her usual cuddly self to a slim Petal.

Petal changes
This leaves me in a bit of a quandary.

 On the one hand, slim Petal doesn't feel and look a bit like the old Petal. Old Petal was short and fat. She was fun. She reflected who I felt like in real life. She was also making a statement. She wasn't going to be tall, blonde, slim with big boobs, and look exactly like the other avatars in SL.

 The new Petal
On the other hand, the new Petal is slim. But so am I, now that I have lost four stones in weight. But somehow she feels and looks bland. She lost that certain something that makes her special. Indeed, a little while ago a colleague remarked to me that she missed the old Petal.

What does this all say about identity?
So the question I leave Petal as she is, reflecting my new "real life" image? Or do I put her back to how she was? And what does all this say about how I see myself, and how I regard my identity?

 I love the new "real me". I look and feel so much better now I have lost weight. But I am afraid I don't like the new, slim Petal quite so much...I cannot relate to her... so she's going back to be short and fat again!

Do you have any kind of avatar, or image that you use to represent yourself anywhere, like Second Life, Facebook or Twitter? What does that avatar or image say about you? How often do you change it, and why?


Claire Thompson said...

The question of how we represent ourself visually on line is interesting. I always thought it was neat that yours was the only SL avatar I had seen who wasn't tall and slim. By rejecting the typical avatar your sense of fun was evident as well as a feeling that you weren't pretending to be something else. Your voice comes across so strongly in your online spaces, and I'm not surprised that this is true for you in SL too.

I've tried to use the same image in all of my online spaces; I'm not on SL--so in all my spaces I just have the same headshot. I want people from my PLN to recognize me no matter if I am on Twitter, Elluminate, Moodle etc. I don't have a lot of good head shots--I have elementary aged children and I'm the family photographer, so not too surprising! The photo that I currently use is now 4 years old. I've thought about updating it so that I'm representing the 'real me'. I'd like to think that when I meet people in real life they don't feel mislead by my younger online image :-)


Ellie said...

I wondered about your avatar, too. I remember the other one, and I liked her.

The problem with heavier avatars is they don't work with the avatar skeleton. You wind up with your hands going into your body.

I'd love to have an avatar that actually shows the beauty of a generously-proportioned woman. Christie Shoemaker (SL:Gracie Kendal) has one

Sarah Stewart said...

Claire: The issue I am thinking about at the moment I am looking for a job, how will my "fat" photos impact on my chances to get a job? With that in mind, I'm rushing around putting "slim" photos everywhere.

Ellie: thanks for the link. I think the whole issue of virtual identity is fascinating. I feel so much better now that Petal is back to how she was.