Judging A Book by its Cover: Must Avatars Look Good for us to be Attracted to Them?

July 25, 2007 at 5:15 pm (Beauty, Second Life)

Gamera the Turtle

For those of you out there reading this post who do not participate in Second Life (yes, I know there are still a few of you) this topic may seem utterly bizarre. Hell, even to those of us leading second lives, this question is a strange one. But I’m wondering, why does the cartoon representation of us matter?

Surely the way our pixels are arranged is not the only thing that we go on when determining with whom to spend our limited time in world. But clearly looks do matter in Second Life. Why else would we spend time and money buying clothes, hair, skin, and shoes to play virtual Barbies with our avis?

I think the way we make our avatars look is considered a reflection on who we are as the real individuals behind the keyboard. Admittedly, I’ve made Cinderella a hot representation of the personal attributes I like about myself. But she is more of me than her looks alone; her mannerisms, the way she dresses, and certainly the words she “speaks” (or I type) are totally me.

Lest I receive nasty-grams chastising me for being shallow, I do think it is possible and natural to get beyond the way an avatar looks. Some of my best SL friends I initially met when they were cats, turtles, warriors, the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, and–Gawd forbid!–newbs. It was the person behind the av that attracted me to them.

But, I admit…I’m often quick to help a new-found newb friend find skin and hair becoming of a “proper” avatar. And I don’t typically go out dancing with the turtle. Perhaps I should (nudge nudge, Gam).

[Note to reader: I am aware of the prolific use of role play in Second Life. I’m not referring to that here.]



  1. Bagg said,

    What? I toned myself down for SL. 🙂 Just kiddin. Hmmmm… why do looks matter on sl… Everyone wants to be pretty, or hot on the outside to others. Not everyone is the stereotypical “hottie”, but they can create it to be in the “popular” crowd (yes, sometimes sl can be like highschool… ugg, right?). You can buy yourself into Brad Pitt or Pam Anderson. Fun right? No, I don’t know anyone that actually ignores people on there that are not gorgeous. Ultimately this thing lets us stretch our boundries and try different things that we cannot in RL due to any number of reasons… So more power to those who are whatever they want, no matter what! 🙂

  2. Just me said,

    This is a great example of how people come to Second Life to experience what they would normally miss out on in real life, but act the same way in Second Life as they do in real life. Second Life allows people to be who they have always wanted to be and most people take advantage of it.

    Doesn’t everyone want to be a prince or princess? Of course not and that is the beauty of life. Alot of people just want to be creative. They want to be themselves and want to express themselves how they see fit. However, most people are materialistic in nature and put alot of stock on looks. Most people tend to make decisions with respect to interacting with others based on looks, as well.

    Many people say, “Its the personality that counts.” And most people honestly believe it, they just leave out the other part of that statement. “It’s the personality that counts as long as I find them attractive enough to get to know their real personality.”

    It is my opinion that if we actually talked to the turtles, wolves, fairies, and pot-bellied older gentlemen, we would most likely find out they are very creative people with great personalities. And in most cases, probably even more so than the prince or princesses. Who says the turtle isn’t an international model trying to hide or that the “10” on a scale of 1 to 5 hasn’t really fallen from the ugly tree and hit every branch?

    Bottomline is that even though we log into Second Life, we are still human. Its hard to unlearn something we have had embedded in us for years and years.

    The question is….. If everything is based on looks, who is more attractive? The person behind the screen of the ogre or the one behind the screen of the prince or princess? I guess we may never know unless we get to know them both.

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