Thursday, May 24, 2012

Changing an Identity

Tuesday was an optional class night and since I wanted to meet other students and I needed the practice in the topics being discussed, I decided to attend. One of Esme's topics was that of clothing. I'm fashion challenged in the RW and while I know learning how to manipulate clothing is part of this whole avatar thing, I did not look forward to the challenge of clothing selection. Also, I'm not daring with clothes so there was no way poor Tis would be either. When I first started working with Tis, I selected a few items and quickly reverted back to what I would be comfortable wearing - black shirt and capris. I daringly selected the color purple for her pants and that's as far as my creativity could go.

On class night, Esme was dressed in beautiful gown. As I listened to her discussion on clothing our avatars, I watched the graceful flow of her dress. Could I get something like that for Tis or would I feel self conscious putting her in that? Esme referred us to a clothing store where I experimented with a few outfits. A lovely, formal black dress was available and since I love the simplicity of black, I dressed Tis in that. I turned her around and, whoa! A little low cut there! That won't do - I'm not about to let her be seen like this. Let's see what else there is... A conservative dress later and we're ready to rejoin the group.

This brings me to Esme's second topic for the night - our virtual identity - and Jane's bullet point on her "Quest for Virtual Identity" page. What virtual identity characteristics would you want to present to your students? Professional? Playful? Warm? Sexy? (Honestly this is debated!) Tall? Athletic? I'm not presenting to students right now but I know it would be conservative - which is how I've chosen to stay (for now) with my classmates. Over the years, especially when I was younger, I wanted to be someone other than myself (i.e. prettier, smarter, more outgoing).  Here was my opportunity to make Tis into something I wanted to be. Yet, there she is, pretty much like me... conservatively dressed, reserved, and tall (or at least she seems that way to me). I realized something in seeing her. I'm comfortable with her being as she is.  There is one change, though... her hair. I wanted long hair in the worst way, when I was a kid. Braids and pony tails looked like such fun. Esme shared long hair with me. Tis has lost it a few times when changing outfits but I always find it again and return it to her.

I discussed some of these ideas with a co-worker and he asked me an interesting question. Would your avatar be an extension of you if you didn't know these people and you weren't in a class. Would you be completely different if no one knew who you were? Hmmm... I don't know. I'll need to think about that.


  1. Dear Sally/Tis
    Your post reminded me a lot of perceptions about my avatar during the last years (I was born in 2008). I share your feeling of being comfortable with the same clothing used in “real” life (except for some rare events I use to wear jeans and ballerinas shoes!). A curious thing is that when I started living in SL I played with clothing and accessories experimenting different solutions, but I remained with the same “skin” and “shape”. When I reflected on this choice I found that the main reasons were that people in-world recognize my avatar also for its skin and I became attached to it, I would never change its main somatic characteristics. I know it’s weird!

  2. It's not unlike the avatar face for this blog. She isn't overly attractive and she looks kind of grumpy (which I'm not) but I've grown kind of attached to her. Odd that I didn't make her beautiful and a non-glasses wearer. Maybe I didn't think I could relate to her if she was...

  3. Hi Tis, I am glad I found your blog. you have a very interesting conversational style and a great sense of humor :) I was born in SL in 2009 (not Olive but another twin sister) and like you I couldn't allow my avatar to do anything that I wouldn't in RL. This hasn't changed much but parts of my personality that may not be easily expressed in public in RL due to shyness or cultural norms etc. started finding their way into how I represent myself through my avatar. It was nice meeting you in SL and hope we can meet again and have chat about identity in VWs