Thursday, March 08, 2007
My (Second) Life and the Rush of Breasts
(Apologies to Brian Eno and David Byrne...)
When I initially set up my avatar, I made various choices that arguably conform to a conventional Western (or perhaps more specifically American) notion of beauty, or maybe even the exaggerated version thereof that some disparagingly label "Barbie." (And boy, did I agonize over it, at least for a while...)
In particular, especially if you've read my many references to Proposition 125 and Proposition 2072, my sheepish admission to running a certain slider all the way up, and my delight at buying cleavage, you know that I really enjoy being able to have large breasts in SL, once again verifying the wisdom of the title cut of The Shaggs' album Philosophy of the World. (You may be tempted to look for samples of their music. I should warn you that they are an acquired taste.)
While waiting for Linden Labs to move Prop 125 further along than "acknowledged," I've taken the plunge and started using a set of prim breasts from Rhenworks. They're nicely constructed and easy to use within (and because of) their limitations, since they have the (portion of a) top built-in. Here's a photo:
They're copyable, so it's possible to experiment and to retint/texture to work with the top of one's choice...as long one chooses one that works with them.
I've been wearing these for a while (and hope to start with a more sophisticated scripted set soon, alliteration not intentional).
So what's it like?
Well... of course, in many ways it's unlike RL. There are none of the back problems or skin problems. It doesn't affect one's center of gravity or otherwise impede one, though seeing one's arms sticking through one's breasts wrecks verisimilitude. (I'm still looking for a suitable typing animation override.) A very big difference: in RL, you can't right click and click "Detach." (Also, like prim hair, clothes, and shoes, prim breasts may take their own sweet time to rez. Keep a full top on.)
The big difference: despite the description below of reactions as a similarity, in SL this appearance is a choice made by an adult, reversible at any time. It's very different from not having any choice and growing up getting those reactions from one's peers/classmates (a group notorious for exquisite and relentless cruelty towards anyone who is different, and who pounce on perceived weakness like frenzied sharks sensing blood) as well as strangers.
In two ways, though, it's very much like RL:
Diffficulty Finding Clothes
SL clothing, apart from prims, is literally painted on your body, like those trompe l'oeil body paint jobs you see from time to time. Most attached things should not be painted over with clothing, since they're intended to show, e.g. jewelry... and I would bet that the pertinent part of the SL client code simply assumes that to be the case for all attachments.
Unfortunately, this means that prim breasts do not work and play well with SL clothing; you must build clothing out of prims and link it to them. (Rhenworks does this for you; other vendors set it up so you can do it yourself. Again, an ease versus flexiblity tradeoff.) All those lovely textures that the fine clothiers of SL painstakingly assemble... unavailable, at least the parts on the front of one's torso. Very frustrating! Also, the clothing one builds and links will only fit reasonably well with certain outfits.
One day, I was flung into a Welcome Area when SL couldn't put me where I wanted to be. It was actually kind of fun, aside from the outrageous lag, so I've gone back occasionally.
A lot of people say nothing. Some approach and ask questions out of honest curiosity ("Oooh, where did you get those?"). Replying with good humor or feigned innocence and working on the assumption that most people are good works very well (and maybe that's why I've had mostly good experiences with SL from the beginning, though part of it is that there's not much that would-be troublemakers can do to you, very much unlike RL!).
Sometimes I feel that I should paraphrase Al Capone--you can get much farther with a kind word and enormous breasts than you can with a kind word alone. :) A conversation starting with the, um, obvious can turn to a chance to point a newcomer to New Citizens Plaza or information about Linux. (I didn't realize I was that much of a proselytizer!)
Then there are those unencumbered by subtlety. I can but say that muting is my friend.
Some German-speaking people may have thought I didn't realize what they were saying, but I could figure out some (with the help of the occasional obvious cognates). I suppressed the urge to reply "I like my ballast tanks, thank you very much!"
Back in the early 1980s, Bob Greene wrote a column about Morganna, the "kissing bandit." She said the rude behavior she got came from women--"That's disgusting!" (The column ended with Greene going home to his SO and telling her who he'd interviewed. "That's disgusting!" she said...)
I've gotten little to none of that, thank goodness, but OTOH... I've put up a number of pictures (mostly self-portraits, I'm a little ashamed to say) on flickr. In a number of them, I'm dressed rather skimpily, but nary a "Barbie" comment. Yesterday, I uploaded this:
and got the comment "Good to see people using SL to stamp out old-fashioned fascist beauty standards." Guess Godwin's Law applies to aesthetic discussion, too.
[UPDATE: Mordecai got a response to the message he mentions sending in his comment. Apparently the commenter in flickr thought I was being ironic and mocking the aforementioned beauty standards. Sorry... I'm not a very ironic person. I was just trying to take a good picture!]
So... was it worth it? I think so--I like them! I'll not be wearing them all the time, though. (I do hope to figure out how to adapt them to Victorian clothing...) With all due respect to the builders who make them, though, I hope they're just a stopgap until LL comes through on Prop 125. (Actually, just being able to mark selected attachments as things clothes should paint over would help a whole lot.)