Saturday, July 16, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Thirty-seven - Lemon

With Lemon Week, I return to being able to find clothing named after the color of the week! That's a major achievement, yo!


Finding a place to settle was the hardest part - I ended up going to Locus, a place I'd been eyeing for a while. It's a gorgeous sim - I can't deny that - but the use of alpha made picture taking a little bit of a challenge! My wings are pure alpha, which means they tend to battle with alphas in the background, and since I don't do any post-processing there's no chance to fix it once the picture comes out of Second Life.

Justice is Blind

Pseudonyms, identity, and online behavior have been in my thoughts a lot recently. A lot of people maintain a difference between "real" and "fake" people - often characterizing the latter as cowardly or automatic trolls. Since early on in the internet, the claim that people could pretend to be other than what they were has been both a draw and a warning - the early comic of "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" always held the underlying insult toward appearance that "dog" implies.

But the Internet was never a bastion of be who you want - indeed, being white and male (and cis gender, and straight, and able bodied and minded) has long been considered the default. I can remember early on men taking an obviously female name and being shocked at the rapid and insulting response from others on the internet who saw obvious females as immediate prey. The website Fat, Ugly, or Slutty lists some examples of the experiences women have on the internet, and if you look only a little it won't take long to find similar experiences for anyone who deviates from the "norm".

Cast Into Shadow

On Second Life there are also norms which fall along gender lines - with an added bonus of assumptions about the "real" gender behind the avatar body as well as judgments on the avatar bodies themselves. A lot of the conversation is not over avatars in general, but rather over the bodies of female avatars - whether their presumed offline gender is male or female. Often the conversation extends beyond just the aesthetics of appearance to judgments about the woman (or man) beyond, though - including a not-so-recent post I made about the presumption that women who used the physics layer must have poor self esteem.

I've also been judged - as too childish, as too unattractive, and altering my appearance to appeal to men. I've judged other women - as too sexy, as badly proportioned, as cheap, as a prostitute or slut. We are raised to mention the appearance of girls and women first, to judge women by their appearance first, to use women's bodies and appearance as a shorthand for all sorts of social judgements.

On the Edge

There has to be a way to discuss aesthetics without descending into this trap, but right now I'm not sure how to.

( More pictures here. )


Skin: De La Soul, Charlie Harlot - Cream (with blond brows)
Ears: Illusion, Mystic Ear
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle Wings
Hair: Exile, Lady Versaille - Goldenrush
Dress: Cipher, Punk Lolita Mini-Dress - Lemon
Shoes: katat0nik, Kita Mary Jane Shoes - Candy Yellow

Poses: Glitterati

Location: Locus
Light Settings: TOR, MIDDAY - Coral Reef
Water Settings:

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only


  1. WOW such a gorgeous set of photos, the yellow really pops out from the back ground! I love your little dollyesque outfit too... its so pretty!

  2. I really like the colors that you chose in contrast, it looks really nice, good photos, nice art. And yeah, people are judged rather harshly on appearance, but second life is more so about looking 'Good' from what I have noticed than most other things. I guess I don't see things the same way, most of the reason my character looks the way he does, is because of how I was instructed when I had first joined, not really myself, not completely what I wanted but I grew into it to suit the needs of others. And I am sure one day that you will be able to discuss the aesthetics of something without falling into a pit of colorful words that please the mind, but wouldnt please the ear. o-o

  3. Great post! You look fantastic and I really enjoyed your exploration of gender and identity in world. I think that this is particularly fascinating because next week's color - Patriarch - also ignited similar thoughts from me.

    Gender dynamics in-world have long been a fascination of mine as I consider myself a feminist but sl is not a feminist friendly environment on it's surface.

  4. Thanks, Rhud! this is one of my favorite outfits. Maybe sometime I'll get into the associations i have with it; they're very mixed.

    Raven: Yeah, it's just that "good" has a lot of unspoken connotations - especially related to women's avatar bodies. I think male avatars run a different gauntlet, both because less is available and because of assumptions that the male body serves the purposes of strength instead of attractiveness. *hides naked pictures of friends' male avatar bodies behind her back and whistles*

    Anichka - yes, not feminist-friendly on the surface, and yet... and yet... because one oft he struggles within feminism is to acknowledge and include women who are demonized by the patriarchy, which often includes the overtly sexual woman and women who trade sex for money. A lot of the complaints about female avatars on SL ties into their being overtly sexualized - huge breasts, huge hips, very little clothing. Often they're accused of not "really" being female offline (which may or may not be true). I was woken up to the problem with this when I what-the-fugged a pictures of two well-put-together but very sexualized women, thinking their bodies were physically impossible, than saw a woman with that body type less than a week later.

    SL can also be a very safe place to BE obviously sexual relatively safely; even if you're using RLV you can log out, turn it off, and log back in "free". I've used alts (not my main) to explore more sexual and sexualized ways of presenting myself not because I'm secretly male, but because doing the same offline is fraught with a lot of risks, including the obvious one of not only being raped but being blamed for it.

    There is a strong tendency for people to simplify things down, though... sexy women "must" be men; attractive men "must" be women... I think it's more complicated than that.