5 misconceptions around mesh heads in Second Life

As more and more mesh heads are released into the Second Life marketplace, I am noticing that their mere mention is sometimes enough to incite detractors to criticise people who use them. The criticism often sounds like “mesh heads all look alike”, and the falsely dichotomous “mesh heads make you less unique”, followed often by the fearful warning that we’ll all soon look like “clones” and that mesh heads are “the new evil”.

There is a conventional wisdom in western culture – naturally echoed in Second Life – that suggests we are all unique (aka ‘special’) and that uniqueness (aka ‘individuality’) is a human right that we should not only strive to attain, but protect with every fibre of our will against those who want to strip us of our specialness. Yet while we believe so fervently in the value of personal growth, we tend to meet change with fear and resistance, clutching – often groundlessly – to what we already know.

These views are a product of lazy thinking, festooned with the faulty logic of the “Me” generation, and saddled by false dichotomies that make many of our conclusions just plain wrong.

In this post, I’ll specifically discuss the 5 misconceptions surrounding mesh heads in Second Life, why I think we need to review them, and how our attitude toward them is symptomatic of deeper issues related to resistance to change.

  1. Mesh heads all look alike
  2. Mesh heads make you more common and less unique
  3. We are all inherently different
  4. Our faces are us
  5. Change is bad

Before I start, let me address what might be perceived as a personal bias. I’ve worn mesh heads since 2013. Over two years later, I’m still not finding my individuality slipping away. I still feel like myself.

While I prefer the look of mesh heads in general, that’s not to say they are perfect. Further, I don’t judge those who prefer not to use them any differently than those that do.

What I don’t like, however, are the false conclusions that get thrown around about mesh heads as if they are undeniably true. With that said, I’m not writing this post to defend the use of mesh heads, or to suggest you should adopt one if you don’t feel it is for you.

am writing this post to suggest logical counter-arguments to falsely held prejudices shared by those who criticise mesh heads (and feel the need to share their prejudices with the world at large) for the reasons I’ll get into now.

Misconception 1: Mesh heads all look alike

This is like saying all Volkswagens all look alike. They don’t, and neither do mesh heads. Granted, there is similarity among mesh heads from the same merchant, just as there tends to be similarity among cars models from the same manufacturer.

However, when one considers the various brands and changes one can make by changing sizes, skin tones, features like eye colour and ears, makeup options, accessories, facial expressions, and hair, the differences can – and do – become more distinct. When one considers the impacts that lighting in photography and graphic settings in viewers, the differences are even greater. As evidence, just look at the remarkable diversity in looks found in the Lelutka Mesh Head Showcase on Flickr.

The over-generalisation that all mesh heads look alike also reminds of when people say that those from races other than their own “all look alike”. This is a psychological shortcoming that is common to people of all races – referred to as “The Other-Race Effect”: We are reliably poor at distinguishing traits in races different from our own.

I would assert that we are similarly poor at distinguishing the differences between mesh heads because we are still unfamiliar with them.

When it comes to race, these views are not necessarily a result of (or even correlated with) prejudice or racism, they are simply the result of perceptual weakness.

One theory is that we generally spend more time with people of our own race and therefore develop a perceptual ability for those who look more obviously similar to us. As an example, because Caucasians exhibit wider variety in hair colour than other races, Caucasians develop more practice in differentiating others by their hair colour. In other words, we are better at what we practice.

This would hold true in Second Life as well. At the moment, mesh heads are relatively rare. It follows, that we may lack the learned perceptual ability to tell them apart as well as we might be able to do so with system heads.

Another theory used to explain the “other-race effect” is that we think categorically about people who look obviously different to us. What this means is that we notice the obvious traits (e.g. skin tone) and tune out more subtle characteristics (e.g. the near infinite variability in the shapes and sizes of facial features). In other words, we’re lazy.

I think the fallacy that all mesh heads in Second Life look the same is more likely explained by the latter theory – we look at mesh heads and see the obvious differentiators – smoother lines and profiles, porcelain skin tones and near-perfect complexions – yet we lazily fail to note more subtle differences.

Misconception 2: Mesh heads make you more common and less unique

To give credit where it is due, what led me to consider our misconceptions around mesh heads was Caitlin Tobias’ post, where she shares her thoughts (and hesitations) in adopting a mesh head (i.e. Letutka’s Ever) and says: “In the beginning, when the mesh heads arrived in SL, I was almost sure I would never take one.” This initial psychological resistance is echoed by Strawberry Singh – also a LeLutka user, in her post published on the same day where she states: “I never thought it would happen where I would start to prefer a mesh head.” (My emphasis of the word ‘never’ in both statements).

Caity 3.0 - A blogpost

Caity is wearing the LeLutka Ever

LeLutka Mesh Head - Stella

Strawberry is wearing the LeLutka Stella

I have read many posts and heard many reflections from people who have now adopted mesh heads that shared a similar reluctance at first. This reluctance was often accompanied by the same absolutism about never adopting a mesh head for day-to-day use.

Never. Say. Never.

As I was reading Caity’s post, I followed her link to Auryn Beorn’s post, that acted as the nudge for Caity to make the move to mesh.

In Auryn’s post, she suggests that we shouldn’t worry so much about being unique, and that declaring one’s individuality and uniqueness to all who might listen consequently assigns one to the very large and common group of people who value uniqueness and individuality. At the risk of being hopelessly unoriginal myself, let me repost my comment to Auryn’s post here (slightly paraphrased):

I make a similar argument with people who have tattoos (in real-life) on the premise that it makes them unique, when I know that the designs they adopted came from a book, or at best someone else’s (the tattoo artist’s) imagination. In the same way, even a completely custom made tattoo in real-life only helps to squarely box you into the category of people who wear tattoos. Tattoos that incidentally have historically been used to signal one’s affiliation to a tribe or group. Oh, the irony.”

Auryn further asserts that there is nothing to fear about being ‘normal’. With that said, she does not put her uniqueness – her identity – into the face of her avatar in Second Life.

To be unique (or not to be) - Blog Post

Auryn is wearing the Lelutka Stella

I think similarly.

First of all, an avatar’s appearance is only one expression, among millions of expressions – of what makes the driver who they are (note I did not say ‘unique’, that is something different).

I’d argue that what makes you who you are is more about how you think, what you do, what you value, and how you live. One’s appearance is important, but only in the context of the multitude of one’s other characteristics and traits.

I’ve long known that one’s identity – or indeed one’s perception of uniqueness – need not arise from one’s outward appearance. It’s what is inside that makes one who one is – not what one wears or even what one looks like. It’s what is inside you that is responsible for the million everyday manifestations of everything that makes you specifically you.

So no, wearing a mesh head will not make you any less of an individual. This is consistent with my view that adhering to a dress codes also needn’t make one feel any less special or unique.

When people criticise mesh heads (and by association those who use them), they tend to reliably follow their criticism by declaring how they have painstakingly shaped their own appearance as if it were the height of classical sculpture. Like Renaissance sculptors, they have painstakingly chiselled at those sliders for years – from left to right and back again – to the point where they are now ‘unique’.

The implication is that if you customise your avatar’s face, then you are unique. Conversely, if you choose to use a mesh head, then you are common. What follows is the illogical conclusion that unique is good, and common is bad.

In Second Life, we have 6 tabs for editing facial appearance. These contain 11 head sliders, 11 eye sliders, 4 ear sliders, 11 nose sliders, 9 mouth sliders and 9 chin sliders. Multiplied together, there are a possible 431,244 combinations. We can then add skin to that mix to get even more variation.

Now that may sound like a lot to you, but when you compare it to real life variability that can be measured in microns, this number is not really that big, and certainly not enough to make one unique.

Update – 25 of May: I’ve recently been shown that this computation is in fact in error, so I’m striking it out. The actual combinations are much greater than the number I arrived at. Thanks to Sei Lisa for pointing out the error in comments.

Even if you do customise your face, the big assumption here is you have chosen slider settings that are different to everyone else who has also customised their facial features. This is less likely given fashion trends and central tendency bias alone (the tendency to not select an extreme option, and instead pick an option that is closer to the centre of the options). Given that many people don’t even touch their appearance sliders for years, the reality is that avatars in Second Life have looked the same or similar for years. It’s nothing new, and nothing to get all angsty about.

This begs the question, how important is being unique anyway? Individualism is a relatively recent ideology that has its early beginnings in modern times. It’s also primarily a social outlook that has more currency in the West. Individuality has been linked with social inequality, overconsumption, and less social responsibility. The notion of individuality is not even among the widely accepted human universals.

Personally, I think that we in the West have confused the value of uniqueness with the economic principle of scarcity. We tend to associate higher relative value with objects that are in relatively low supply. The more unique or rare something is, we believe, the more valuable it must also be.

This would explain our persistently irrational esteem for gold and other precious metals. Gold, in fact, is only valuable because we – as a society – decided it is. It has no intrinsic value. One of the main reasons that gold is so valuable is because it’s so rare. If you managed to collect and melt down every piece of gold we have unearthed to date, you’d end up what would roughly amount to 20 meter cube.

Misconception 3: We are all inherently different

We are in fact much more the same than we are different.

We often like to claim that our uniqueness is attributable to the complex combinations of the unique genetic endowments successively multiplied by the innumerable combinations of all the generations that have helped to make us uniquely us.

The concept that we are all very different and special in our own way is actually a not grounded in genetic reality. The mapping of the human genome now shows that two people plucked at random off the street, might differ at about 1 in every 1,200 to 1,500 DNA bases (or letters).

Is this a little or is this a lot?

It turns out, if you add up all of those potential differences, you are about 99.9% genetically the same as me. You read that right. You and I are only 0.1% different from one another.

Put another way:

If the genome were a book, every person’s book would contain the same paragraphs and chapters, arranged in the same order. Each book would tell more or less the same story. But my book might contain a typo on page 303 that yours lacks, and your book might use a British spelling on page 135—”colour”—where mine uses the American spelling—”color.” Genome News Network.

We may be genetically unique, but that still doesn’t make us very different.

Then how and why can we look so different, you ask? Well, like I said, we mainly look different to each other. Other animals likely see us as very similar, just like we might have trouble telling the difference between chimpanzees. We do find this hard, which is why we identify apes by their unique nose prints.

Genetically speaking, the reason every human genome is different is because of mutations – which is a geneticist’s term for ‘mistakes’ – that occur from time to time in the DNA sequence. Mutations create slightly different versions of genes that are called alleles, and this accounts for everything we see as ‘unique’ in each other – whether it be in hair, skin, height, shape, and even behaviour and susceptibility to disease. Mutations are not always bad news, and genetic variation is useful (and in fact necessary) for the persistence of the species; but again, variation does not imply uniqueness, and uniqueness has little inherent genetic value.

As a wild and wacky aside, genetic uniqueness might not always manifest itself as different. The two women in this video are genetically unique, but still somehow look very similar to each other:

Appearances aside, most of us also live fairly similarly predictable lives. In anthropology, there is a concept known as human universals. These elements, patterns, traits and institutions are common to all human cultures. According to American Professor of Anthropology names Donald Brown, the following “features of culture, society, language, behaviour and psyche for which there no known exception” include:

age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethno-botany, etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire-making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift-giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool-making, trade, visiting, weather control, weaving.

Even culturally, we’re not as different as we think.

What I also find dripping with irony is that often the same people who are telling others to wear this and wear that because it’s the latest and greatest, are the same ones that are crying out for everyone to be unique.

What is fashion, if not a call to all and sundry to follow the latest trends, to fit in, and to be in style? Of course, one can clearly hear the fashion industry’s mixed message if only one listens, which essentially amounts to:

Wear whatever we are selling everyone, BUT you must also be yourself!

Misconception 4: Our faces are us

Humans have a moderately large area of the brain that is dedicated to human facial perception. We are born with it, and it only gets better as we age into adulthood. Because of this trait that has evolved to protect us from those who might do us harm, we are hyper-aware of the tiniest differences in human faces – but not differences in other animals or even other parts of human anatomy.

For example, where was this uproar when mesh hands and feet came out? No where.

Instead, mesh hands and feet were widely adopted, are now often found as one of the top 10 best-selling products on the Second Life Marketplace, and have helped Slink become a business that makes hundreds of thousands of dollars (that’s not Linden dollars by the way, that’s US dollars). Yet mesh heads (and to a lesser degree, mesh bodies) are something people resist with a fervour reserved for an invading alien force.

Faces – and their features – are very precious to us, because we use faces to show someone’s origin, emotional tendencies, health qualities, and social information. The funny thing is, we don’t get any of this information in Second Life. So what’s all the hubbub, when we’re trading in what is essentially one static face for another static face?

We have a complex relationship with our faces, that extends beyond our other body parts. One recent study on the psychological effects of aesthetic surgery revealed that breast augmentation (the most common cosmetic surgery procedure in the UK) and breast reduction (the 4th most common) are uniformly associated with positive emotional outcomes – while nose jobs and face lifts present a more mixed picture.

Still, in the UK at least, eyelid surgery is the 2nd most common cosmetic surgery procedure and growing by 14%, face/neck lifts are the 3rd most common and are growing by 13%, while nose jobs are the 5th most common and growing by 19%. (Source).

The statistics for the US are somewhat different, where liposuction tops the charts, and tummy tucks appear in the top 5 due to reasons that very few people will likely need me to explain. All the other usual suspects stay.

Many people walk into cosmetic surgery offices armed with images of celebrities who have features they’d like to emulate. Yet, people who have facial cosmetic surgery remain the same people they were before they had their surgery. They don’t feel any bit less individual, and no less unique.

I’ve heard the argument that mesh heads in Second Life are undesirable because we can’t easily make them look the way we do in real-life. People who have plastic surgery think in the opposite way, they change their appearance to feel more like what they want to look like and what is aesthetically pleasing to them.

Face lifts, neck lifts, brow lifts, chin augmentation, eyelid reductions – these things are no longer considered taboo. Again, while our facial appearance is important to us, we are much, much, much more than that.

And before anyone claims that cosmetic surgery is a fringe activity for a very small market of weirdos or the psychologically deficient, know that there were 1.8 million surgical cosmetic procedures in the US in 2014 alone. Now compare that to the number of people who routinely use Second Life.

Misconception 5: Change is bad

Now that Caity is adopting a new mesh head, which (she calls Caity 3.0) is she now going to be dramatically different from Caity 2.98743 (I heard that was the last update)?

Of course not. Yet, people have, and will continue to tell her not to change, sometimes citing that they “miss the old Caity”.

She is still the same old Caity, in 99.99999% of every way. This change in appearance just happens to be a change that we can see. It’s obvious to us, and compels us to comment and offer our unsolicited opinion on the merits of the change.

Why should anyone care if someone else changes? What does it have to do with us?

I think what it comes down to is that when someone makes a big change we wonder if we also might need to change. Sometimes we fear that someone’s change will threaten our relative position in some way. Do I now have to get a mesh head too? Am I being left behind?

People also fear change in others because they worry about how it will change their relationship with the person making the change. And many people are terrified of this kind of change.

We genuinely believe that whatever we have done for a long time must be the right way to do things. And the longer we’ve been doing something, the better it likely is. Like we do with scarcity, we illogically value longevity. Because something has been around a long time, we tend to think it has deserved to be around, which means it must be good, right? We do this with art, cuisine, trees, our relationships and all sorts of traditions and customs that have little to do with practicality, effectiveness or what might actually be good for us.

The truth is, while some old things are as good or better than new things, there is no evidence to suggest that something is better just because it’s old. As time goes on, the new will become the new old, and tomorrow we’ll be resisting something else that somebody else wants to do.

Conclusions

I doubt I’ll change many minds with this post. It is the nature of entrenched opinions to remain deeply lodged. That’s fine, because as I said at front, it’s not my intention to sell anyone on adopting mesh heads.

I see the resistance to mesh heads, however, as symptomatic of a wider phenomenon that seems to me at odds with what I imagine Second Life residents to be all about.

On one hand we are innovators and very early adopters of something very, very new; and on the other hand we are conservative and old-fashioned, with a very strong and vocal resistance to change.

This conservative side of us, when confronted with change, seems able to so easily trot out the tired clichés to maintain the status quo in so many facets of our lives, even online.

While we protest, and justify our ways, we feel compelled to point out every flaw in the new, as if the old was ever perfect, stifling progress with every unfounded claim and erroneous supposition.

These anxious concerns, like so much of what we mistake for reality, gnaw at us for years until we finally put things into perspective and climb over the walls that we think protect us from what we do not yet know.

This cycle is so reliably repetitive. It’s enough to make one yawn. Yet, it never fails to fascinate me, go figure.

Yawning Canary_007

By | 2017-03-19T20:57:54+00:00 May 23rd, 2015|Must Read, Opinions, Second Life|78 Comments

About the Author:

Canary Beck has been an active Second Life resident since 2007. She is an SL blogger, artist, creator, merchant, sim owner, researcher, filmmaker and performing artist. Offline she works as a London-based internet marketing consultant and business owner.

78 Comments

  1. […] and that you are open to other peoples thought about a topic. A great example is a blog-post in May this year by Becky, about mesh heads. A well crafted article which led to a days (or weeks!) long discussion and counter blog-posts as a […]

  2. Bea Ledyard October 27, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Hi, I am considering having breast augmentation surgery. My problem is about having over muscle as I am extremely active meaning that I workout. Does anybody have any recommendations? I am still to see the the doctor as I’m still uncertain about the operation. Thanks

  3. hi September 2, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Sorry, but I still don’t like meshheads. Those two example pictures look very similar in the face, which is creepy to me. If you slapped the same items on them, they could be twins. Until mesh heads are fully customizable, I will not get one. :/ Just the way I am doing it.

    I hate mesh faces, because it reminds me of IMVU where it lacks creativity and you aren’t able to customize anything. Same with the clothes. When you put them on and they change your shape.

  4. victorialenoirre September 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Nice article! However, did anyone mention that you can get a custom head done? I think there are also mesh head generators or mesh head templates on marketplace. Those will cost more than buying a mesh head, but some people do get custom skins made and such.

    I hesitated to buy mesh heads because I felt like an alien. It was like the first time I entered SL, I was wearing this strange face. I have fun trying demos and seeing the possibilities. I remember people said mesh fit like paper bags, but now so many only wear mesh. So too, mesh heads are taking over the grid.

    I got mesh heads out of curiosity and I like it, less things for me to edit in Photoshop. I usually have to clonestamp or straighten lines of the jaw and chin etc. Mesh heads are straighter, with no jagged edges.

    The SL model world is still opposed to mesh bodies and heads, but I think that will change eventually.

  5. […] Rogue Bravehert on 5 misconceptions around mesh h… […]

  6. Rogue Bravehert July 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Becky, Here is the source of the link I followed to get here: https://www.facebook.com/kittynes.hendrassen/posts/730073380454761

  7. Rogue Bravehert July 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    #1 There is less variety in Mesh Heads – Virtually NONE for Males
    #2 Opportunities for Males to differentiate themselves via unique high-quality, modern materials clothing and accessory options, not designed for a 17 year old looking androgynous boy are minimal.
    #3 Genetic Similarity does not govern: Facial Weight & Tone, Scars, Muscle Memory, Expression, etc.
    #4 Although ‘Our Faces Aren’t Us’ Studies show they are the #1 feature of ‘us’ people remember
    #5 Change IS Good! So how about we all get behind the next generation Virtual Worlds that support 1st Life 3D Scan to Avatar technology, Real-time 1st Life Facial Expression Mapping, Import & Export of our UNIQUE Avatar between platforms, etc.

    ps. Anyone who can recommend a highly compatible (Clothing, etc.) Adult Male Mesh Complete Avi Body, let me know!

    • Becky July 22, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks for your comments. This post has received a resurgence of page views lately, can you tell me where you saw it referenced? Thanks 🙂

  8. Arrehn July 21, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    If you just posted the pictures, you would have made a much more compelling point. Unfortunately the prose detracts from your goal.

    • ℳøηї July 21, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      I strongly disagree with this. The photos help illustrate the points made, not the other way around.

  9. emberadored July 20, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    I remember a few year ago I wore the Snow Rabbit head. God I loved it and still do. I was at the arcade celebrating my birthday , having a happy day until I saw something flash across my screen. Someone had posted to my secondlife . com saying what a shit blogger I was. So shitty that I had no originality or creativity because i was a clone for wearing a mesh head. I felt sick. It was a very personal attack from a stranger. I made the mistake of replying and they got all their friends to spam me with venom about how poor a blogger I was. all because I loved my snow rabbit head. I had to delete block and AR them all. But all that aside. I still love my “ember head” as it was dubbed by my friends and would wear it still If she would have made it possible for others to skin it. Moral of the story, don’t be a douche. I think I looked different than others that wore it as well. ( I rambled, this may or may not make sense. bye ♥)

    • Becky July 20, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      How awful 🙁 What a shitty experience. Exactly “don’t be a douche”, well said, Ember.

  10. Jenn July 10, 2015 at 7:13 am

    tryign too hard to justify something that is a fad or trend at best. The heads eyes all are too small, the chins are too big. Someone said get the anime head from suger something store. but in real life my eyes are bigger than these mesh heads. my nose isn’t as ugly as the mesh heads they all seem to have the same weird nose except the slink ones which are somehow even worse yet, and my chin is more feminine than these big man chins.

  11. […] 6. 5 misconceptions around mesh heads in Second Life […]

  12. Rucy June 2, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    In reply to your last comment to me after I said I believed you had missed my point – “Perhaps I did. What was the point? I’m honestly not being inflammatory here, I’m actually losing the plot :)”

    Well I was making two points, the first, that your heavy use of scientific fact in an article about perceptions of mesh heads seems over the top and unnecessary. Peoples opinions on such things are generally more driven by emotions that a set of scientifically set out rules. (I believe science doesn’t offer too many facts but rather rules that, given the right set of circumstances, will remain true. Scientific facts, if you want to call them that have a shelf life, until they are proved wrong with the next, newer and more informed scientific fact, and on it goes.)

    My second point, and the main reason I commented here, I don’t believe you did miss. It was that your replies to comments on your article seemed combative and aggressive. Having read all your comments here since, which show a completely different demeanor, leads me to believe you did pick up on that.

    For the record I am not for or against mesh heads. As a content creator I was drawn to your article as I have considered making mesh heads and was interested in the practical/technical aspects of using them, and how that may influence the design/creation process. Not sure it is an area I will dive into unless I can come up with a way of making them more modifiable.

    Anyway, I am off to get creative and make something new.
    🙂

  13. Jenn May 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I actually do think all the heads look alike. I don’t know if it is a crime to say this but people who made their own headshapes really do look different to me. I could pick out someone in a sim by a face without even seeing a name, even from screenshots i saw. It’s really hard to do that now. When I see a bloggers picture I immediately think Lelutka or Slink or whatever, despite who it is. It’s just impossible for my brain to not go there. I’m not saying the heads are terrible, the heads are interesting but I definitely think the unique customization is better and people look different unless they are all using a bought shape. My opinion isn’t invalid because of some blog post. It’s mainly that the nose and eyes and mouth usually all look the same no matter what skin you apply. It’s something the human eye can catch, it’s been talked about before forgot the name for that Either way I don’t care what people use myself. I just prefer when people actually have really unique features, there is sense of personality, sometimes a feature isn’t even attractive but people make it work and there’s something special about that. Can’t do that with mesh heads.

  14. Experimental May 25, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    I don’t have anything against mesh heads in principle. In fact if one showed up that worked with my skins and looked just right for one of my characters I would definitely use it. But since I’m a male avatar, well … there aren’t even any actually good mesh bodies out for us yet. I like Niramyth’s Aesthetic Body I guess, but it’s only usable for warrior type RP characters, I use it for my professional Quarterback character for example. But it’s hardly a look for an average person.

    Given the current progress in men’s stuff; I’m guessing between 2 and 5 years from now we’ll finally have enough variety and options for mesh head for men that I’ll actually be able to switch. It’s not even about trying to appear truly unique. But when I’m human I’m usually a middle-aged male of West-African phenotype. Given that what few male heads have been out so far have all had a pretty Aryan boyish look, no matter what skin or hairstyle I throw on them, it’ll never work out. I’ve actually seen people try and pull off Africans using the existing men’s bodies and heads… really, it makes you just look like a white guy in Blackface.

    Yeah, I like being on the cutting edge of new stuff in SL. But not to the extent that I’ll be using vastly inferior products just because I’m a man and people assume I’m not willing to spend cash in SL. Pro-tip: I spend around 8-9% of my RL income in SL. That’s almost the same as a Mormon donates to Church. And my RL income is pretty good too, lol 😉

    • Becky May 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment to this 🙂 Interesting points about the ethnicities – there’s certainly more to that than skin colour. On the spend side, I knew a man that spent way more money on SL than I ever have (and I figure I spend a fair deal). I’ve actually not heard the stereotype that men spend less money in SL, that’s interesting and I wouldn’t have immediately guessed that. 🙂

      • Experimental May 25, 2015 at 11:25 pm

        I guess the stereotype -is- kind of dying. Events in the past years like The Men’s Dept have done a lot to help us against such. But I remember in 2007 when I made one of the first fashion blogs exclusively for men… I’m glad those times are over. Even if I don’t blog anymore myself, these days men even have a dedicated fashion feed ^_^

  15. […] Canary Beck’s blog post, 5 Misconceptions About Mesh Heads in Second Life, generated a lot of thought-provoking opinions and commentary. I added my voice to the fray in my […]

  16. zzpearlbottom May 25, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Personally I was one of the last in Sl to use a mesh viewer and so mesh arrived later to me.
    Now we only build mesh, i only wear mesh and the only reason i didn’t got a mesh head is already being explained better by READMERI.
    That and the fact i refuse to buy non mod products and so far the only mesh head i know is mod (mod= by rezzing it in world and editing it like a regular prim) is kl one.

    • Becky May 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Change will come, I’m sure of it. As I’ve said many times through this post and comments, I’m not advocating that people buy or use mesh heads. Rather, I aim to solely advocate a more open-minded stance to let people do what they want to do, and not get up all in their grill about it 🙂 Thanks for the comment ZZ.

  17. Sei Lisa May 25, 2015 at 5:09 am

    I agree with a big part of the essence of your post, you raise many good points. But you got quite some details wrong. Let me go through the points you got wrong and explain why. I’ll use letters to not confuse them with your numbered points.

    a) The wish of individuality is only in a low percentage a “cultural wisdom”. There are many aspects to it that are independent of culture. That feeling can arise no matter the culture, even though it may be stifled within some cultures. One of the more relevant aspects to it is probably the wish to be special for someone. That is seen as a gain because that gives us advantage when competing with others for attention, which gets us more joy as a result. Another aspect is a fear that being indistinct means being nothing, akin to disappear. That’s kind of an ancestral fear, a fear of death, and it’s rooted in ourselves.

    b) You say that “when one considers the various brands and changes one can make by changing sizes, skin tones, features like eye colour and ears, makeup options, accessories, facial expressions, and hair, the differences can – and do – become more distinct”. That is partially true; however, there *is* a problem with mesh heads, namely that there isn’t enough variety as of now. It reminds me of watching a newbie in a SL default avatar, where I can’t help thinking “oh no, another newbie”. Especially true with those annoying pink polka dot newbie avatars, which I still cringe remembering.

    When you have hundreds of makers to choose from, with tens of models from each maker, your very choice makes a difference. That happens with skins and notably with clothes. Clothes are not unique; there are many instances of the same piece of clothing that are worn by many people, yet thanks to the variety, it’s rare enough to run into someone dressed with the very same dress as yourself. Today, however, we’re not there yet with mesh heads. I’m starting to see common traits in the faces made by a particular (popular) maker, and that’s starting to make me think “oh no, another {maker’s name} mesh head”. It starts to look boring, in the same way that a default avatar is boring.

    Yes, some manage to hide that by means of the skin, hair and other means. So I partly concede your point. I’ve found that after changing my shape to one completely different, I didn’t look that different as long as I didn’t change the skin. That’s most likely the reason. I agree that a skin change can make a big difference.

    c) You say: “In Second Life, we have 6 tabs for editing facial appearance. These contain 11 head sliders, 11 eye sliders, 4 ear sliders, 11 nose sliders, 9 mouth sliders and 9 chin sliders. Multiplied together, there are a possible 431,244 combinations”.

    You got your maths wrong. First, multiplying the number of sliders per group makes no sense whatsoever. To see why, consider the case where they were grouped in groups of 1 slider. Then you would have 1*1*1*1*1*1…=1 possible combination according to your reasoning. Or imagine that they were all in the same big group. Then you would have 55 total possibilities, again by your reasoning. No, it doesn’t work like that.

    Internally, the sliders are represented by floating point numbers, which for this discussion’s purposes it’s to say numbers with many decimals, but let’s not consider that and focus only on the 101 possibilities that the interface offers (from 1 to 100 plus 0, make a total of 101). If you had one slider, that would mean 101 possible combinations. If you had two, that would mean 101*101=10201 combinations (101 to the 2nd power). But you have fifty-five sliders (how they’re grouped doesn’t really matter), which means the number of combinations is actually 101 to the 55th power, which is a HUGE number. I’ve noticed that a few of these are correlated, so that when you vary one, it influences another and vice versa, therefore we can discount these. Let’s say there are 5 sliders correlated to others; that would still make 50 independent sliders. How much is 101 to the 50th power? It’s no more no less than 16,446,318,218,438,818,999,219,212,023,843,297,027,618,124,642,128,479,392,075,226,899,697,009,078,226,629,490,851,910,649,612,255,001, which is many millions of times more than the number of electrons in our universe.

    You have a point, however, when you say that people tend to use values that are closer to a standard of beauty. That does reduce that number a huge lot, but without doing the math, I’d still expect it to be in the trillions as a bare minimum.

    However, even if you’re wrong on this point, you’re not too wrong. A tiny variation in one slider doesn’t make a significant difference. People change with age, for example, and that modifies their facial characteristics, yet they are still themselves, they are still recognizable as a single individual to the people in their environment. So all these combinations do not necessarily make that much of a difference in practice. That further reduces the number of possibilities drastically, again without doing the math I could argue that it’s reduced to non-astronomical numbers, in the order of maybe a million distinctively different faces, perhaps even much less. Which leads me to:

    d) That last point makes your point of real life variability measured in microns wrong, and moot. Real life characteristics of a face are not measurable in microns, because “characteristics” is a more ample concept that does not change from one minute to the next as do micron-measured details.

    e) On genetic variability: You ask the right question, but give the wrong answer. You say, “The mapping of the human genome now shows that two people plucked at random off the street, might differ at about 1 in every 1,200 to 1,500 DNA bases (or letters)”, then ask “Is this a little or is this a lot?” but your answer seems to imply that it’s very little, as you put it in the form of a percentage and say “you are about 99.9% genetically the same as me”. Well, duh. We’re both human. A huge lot of our genetic information goes into making us human, and more specifically into making us having certain organs that perform certain tasks, like kidneys, liver, heart, brain, etc. etc. and produce red and white cells for blood, hormones, bilis, plasma, etc. etc. as without these, or with certain defects in these, we’re just not viable live beings. The external physical aspect is thus a very tiny part of that genetic information, and I’d say that 1 in every 1,500 is a LOT of variation. I think that it alone explains why there are so many congenital diseases and so many non-viable fetuses. So yes, given the absence of some more 9’s after the decimal point, I think that differing in 0.1% of our genes makes us radically different.

    f) “Change is bad”, but I think you misdiagnose the reason. “Why should anyone care if someone else changes? What does it have to do with us?”, you ask, but your answer, that it prompts us to ask ourselves whether we should also change, is very likely far from close.

    We’re fond of our memories. We cling to them because that’s one way to rationalize our fear of death; without them we’d feel terrified. People often collect things to cling to their memories. A change in our environment that threatens our memories is ground-shaking. That’s more likely to be the underlying reason behind seeing changes in a close one. We don’t care about changes in people who don’t matter to us. That’s what I read between the lines when I see someone say “that is not you”. The need for social adaptation comes afterwards; it’s not related to that.

    All that said, you also make other very good points, and as I’ve started saying, I agree with a big part of what you say. But this is lengthy enough already, and going through every point of agreement would seem a bit pointless maybe, so I’ll leave it at that.

    • Becky May 25, 2015 at 6:38 am

      Thanks for your well reasoned comment, too. Yes, I agree there are problems with the mesh heads and their customisation is limited in comparison to system heads controlled by sliders.

      And you are absolutely correct to point out my math error. I can see with your example that you are completely right there. I clearly should have asked Jimmy Chang 🙂 Central tendency and beauty standards, as you agree, does render all of those possible outlier combinations less likely, but that’s no excuse for getting my math so wrong – well spotted.

      I’m still not so sure about your point that 0.1% of difference in our genes makes us radically different. I’ll have to think about that for a bit before I come to further conclusions about that one. The niggle I have is that the perception of difference is so relative – what is subtly different between some things in a certain set is truly radically different from things in other sets. Perhaps I’m getting tied up in the absolute logic of the argument, as opposed to its practical application. I can do that sometimes and it can get me into trouble.

      On the last point about “change is bad”, I can agree that many of us seek to protect our memories by wanting things to stay the same. On the other hand, there are many that care less about their memories and are more concerned about the future that change may bring. Further, while I agree that there are some people that feel that way, that doesn’t necessarily suggest that the theory that people fear they might need to change themselves when others change is far from close. It could quite possibly be both, or a larger or smaller parts of each, and also very likely other things too.

      Lastly, I’d like to thank you for the thought you put into your comment. Really appreciate your approach and am happy to concede some errors in the context of the larger issue.

      • Sei Lisa May 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        Thanks for your response. This article may help you make your mind about my point on the percentage: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0831_050831_chimp_genes.html – it says that we’re only 4% different of chimps by following your initial logic.

        On “change is bad”, I think we’re mostly in agreement. My point was about what I feel the primary, immediate cause is when someone says “that’s not you”. Only after that comes what you say, the fear of isolation for not adapting. Yes, people who are not afraid of change will probably go straight into that second stage, but I don’t think these are the kind of people saying “that’s not you”.

        • Becky May 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm

          Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely have a look at that. Yes, mostly in agreement on the ‘change is bad’ point.

  18. ℳøηї May 24, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Okay – my thoughts on this topic. I’ll go point-by-point to make things a bit organized. I read the comments before making my response, so don’t think that this is all directed at the OP.

    1. Mesh heads look alike

    I feel that they look a bit too similar for my liking at this time within the same brand. This is probably because mesh heads are still evolving to the point where they can be customized as easily as the system heads. For my face, I have a number of makeup options available to me, and I am not limited to what the designer customized for that look.

    With mesh bodies, I waited until I found a body that looked similar to what I would look like. I didn’t care that people were out buying all of the bodies as they came out in order to keep up with the trends. When I found the body that looked like “me”, just smoother and more defined. I bought it.

    “I think the fallacy that all mesh heads in Second Life look the same is more likely explained by the latter theory – we look at mesh heads and see the obvious differentiators – smoother lines and profiles, porcelain skin tones and near-perfect complexions – yet we lazily fail to note more subtle differences.”

    I don’t think that it’s laziness – why would someone have to look hard to notice an eye color change or a lipstick change, or that someone’s cheeks are slightly more sunken/full than the next? Not everyone is going to scrutinize to that much detail, and that’s okay. Some people don’t like certain skin designers for that same reason, but they have the choice to go and get a different skin. Mesh heads – not so much as of yet.

    2. Mesh heads make you more common and less unique

    I agree to a degree. When bloggers gave us the preview for the Lelutka heads, they looked similar to each other, and less like “themselves”. What do I mean? Even if someone changes skins, hair, etc. the way they style their face as well as the sliders gives them that defining look. With the mesh heads, all of that was gone. I still see it mostly like that, except for those who already had a similar look going for them. Then the mesh head was an enhancement on what they already had currently.

    I remember several years ago, I used to wear a freebie skin from Nadas all the time as my main skin. My friend said one day (after she found out what I had) “Oh wow I have that skin too but it looks nothing like yours does”. And when she put it on, there was a visible difference. We didn’t have to look hard at all. When I see that for mesh heads, I will give it more consideration.

    3. We are all inherently different

    I don’t see how the points made for this relate to this topic at all.

    4. Our faces are us

    “For example, where was this uproar when mesh hands and feet came out? No where.”

    There was an uproar because there were people who felt forced to wear certain hands and feet in order be with the times. Suppose if you already had mesh feet – now you have to buy another set. Suppose if you wanted to buy a new pair of shoes – if you didn’t have mesh feet, your choices were limited. Even now there is a debate with wearing mesh bodies with their own hands and feet yet the majority of shoes being made are still for one brand (although I don’t think that should be too much of an issue soon).

    Also, how would you recognize someone in real life if not by their face? You would have to probably use another sense like hearing, or maybe smell. Can you apply your answer to Second Life? Not so easy, right? So even though I feel some people are too attached to their looks, I can understand why they feel that way.

    5. Change is bad

    What’s wrong in saying, “It doesn’t look like *you*?”, especially if someone asks, “How do I look in this?” Should someone shun someone because they don’t have/have a mesh head? No. However, I can understand the shock of someone suddenly buying a mesh body parts and a head all in one.

    My friend and roommate kinda did that – significantly changed her shape, got a mesh body and a mesh head in what seemed to be a relatively short period of time. And it did take some getting used to. No, she didn’t look like she used to, and part of me wanted the old her back. But then I came to the conclusion that the “new” her wasn’t bad, and it was flattering. I say give people some time to adjust – a LOT has happened in the past 6 months when it has come to mesh in Second Life.

    And also because it was mentioned – the cost. It is perfectly fine to decide that several thousand lindens is a bit much to pay for a mesh head. It’s a significant purchase, so people should think about whether it’s worth it to them. And no, you don’t have to compare it to RL money to do so (I never understood that…maybe that works for people who cash out to RL).

    At the end of the day, our shape shouldn’t define us. Our heads shouldn’t define us. The clothing we wear shouldn’t define us. The meltdown that we had on a bad day shouldn’t define us (although people can make some judgements based on less desirable behavior). All of that combined and more defines who we are as people. The sum of our parts is greater than any individual part.

    • Becky May 25, 2015 at 6:10 am

      Thanks for the comment! You make some good counterpoints that I can appreciate.

  19. readmeri May 24, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I love all the furore! I think that Second Life is a place where everybody can express themselves and while some will do it with a mesh head, some will be happier doing it without one. So far, I’m one of the second camp, for the simple reason that I created my own shape and face back in 2008 and I’m used to it. A bit like I look in the mirror each morning in real life and think ‘yes, that is me’. There is comfort in that familiarity and I’d not dream of changing my avatar face because I relate to it as a part of me, just as I’d not change my face in RL.

    I also am not a fan of the current vulpine look, I like my avatar face to look softer and (I think) somehow friendlier than that. I will probably reconsider when mesh heads come out that will be rigged to the slider settings in shape, as they undoubtedly will at some point.

    • Becky May 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 Sounds like a well-balanced attitude – to each their own, right?

      • readmeri May 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Fo Sho!

    • Star May 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      I agree with this ^ I plan to do the same. I’ll wait until I can edit it the way I want to.

  20. Ever Afterr May 24, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Your post is thought-provoking as always, Becky. 🙂

    Personally speaking, I’ve not considered mesh heads (or bodies / body parts) for my avie simply because of the cost factor. As I understand it – and please forgive any forthcoming ignorance, as I’ve looked into the subject of mesh body enhancements only superficially – one needs to purchase both the body or body parts, as well as special skin layers that are applied atop the mesh. Then once these parts are attached, one needs to be mindful of the clothing, footwear and accessories that are to be worn, as older system layers won’t work on mesh bodies, footwear needs to be matched to the type of foot one is using, and so on.

    Bearing all of these factors in mind understandably makes specialty mesh bodies and body parts a complex and somewhat intimidating subject, particularly for those who may be new or newly-returning to Second Life. They’re also out of reach for those on a limited budget, which makes me wonder if perhaps the backlash against them can at least partially be attributed to residents being unwilling or unable to pay for these (understandably higher cost) enhancements.

    My personal lack of understand and funds aside though, I can’t imagine begrudging anyone’s decision to wear a mesh head, and I’m surprised it’s become such a fiery subject! The only reasonable justification I could foresee for a push against mesh bodies/parts would be if brands entirely stopped designing items that were functional for the standard avatar. While admittedly it’s becoming a bit difficult to find current footwear that works for the system feet, standard avatars can wear the latest and greatest mesh clothing and hairstyles with ease, so there’s little if anything for those who *don’t* upgrade to mesh body parts to really complain about.

    Mesh heads look lovely, and a nicely-shaped avatar face looks lovely as well. Whichever a person may prefer, having prejudice against those with an opposite preference seems short-sighted and close-minded to me.

    • Becky May 24, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Hi Ever, thanks for your comment too.

      The polarisation of opinion is spectacular isn’t it? You’d think we were discussing whether Christ walked among us for all the fieriness this has generated. While amusing, many of the ‘anti-mesh head’ comments so far are like lobbed tennis balls; one can logically shoot them down with very little effort. Your views, in my opinion, are reasonable however – so let me address them here.

      One doesn’t need to buy / use a mesh body to use a mesh head. I used a mesh head for over a year before I bought or used a mesh body and everything worked out fine. Many have taken the opposite route (i.e. adopting mesh bodies before a mesh head), so I can understand how one might imagine the latter depends on the former.

      I tend not to recommend mesh heads for new avis seeking advice on how to improve their looks (as I didn’t in my Men’s Style Guide I wrote a little while back). New people are getting their heads around so much already, it’d be somewhat overwhelming to then introduce the whole mesh head/body knowledge set – which I agree, can be at first intimidating. Far better to start with mesh hands, then mesh feet, and then go from there if one feels that is what one wants to do.

      In terms of cost – yes – I have often heard this argument that mesh heads are too costly. I have yet to see a good mesh head priced at anything below L$2500. That may seem high for some, but I think it has everything to do with how often one might use it. For me the value equation was easy. L$2500 roughly converts to $10 USD (at the moment), or £6.46 for me. I wear a mesh head 365 days a year. So that amounts to about 3 cents a day. Turns out, I have used the same mesh head for 2 years, so actually the cost is more like 1.5 cents a day. Considering I spend £2 a day on a cappuccino at my local cafe, I think my budget can probably handle 1.5 to 3 cents a day on what I consider the most important physical aspect of my Second Life avatar. On the other hand, buying a mesh head for a couple of snap shots might require a bit of a pause, but I think we’re talking more about day to day use here than we might be of more casual use.

      • Star May 24, 2015 at 2:52 pm

        “The polarisation of opinion is spectacular isn’t it? You’d think we were discussing whether Christ walked among us for all the fieriness this has generated.” First of all this AGAIN is going way too far. As I feel you are speaking to me as one of the people who are “anti-mesh head” I feel the need to respond to this. I NEVER said I was “anti-mesh head” I am not “anti-mesh” anything, I love mesh! I have tons of mesh clothing, hair, body and body parts. The problem in the comments here diverted from the issue of mesh heads to how you wrote this article. Let me remind you that you used “race” to compare how we view things in SL. You also insulted people who do not see things the way you do as “perceptually weak” in your article. You have insulted everyone that has commented even with the slightest bit of opposition with insults! I also agree with Caitlin, the first picture (which I assume is you) is creepy! It has nothing to do with smiling but it’s a good example of how robotic and creepy hybrid avatars can be. I am all up for the latest in fashion, I have tons of stuff in SL but it’s pictures like that one that would turn most people off from mesh heads. When I first commented, I said at the very least I would like mesh head creators to give is more control over how our mesh head looks. Many of us are very talented shape creators, that is why we love the way our face looks without mesh. Remember this is OUR version of beauty, your “science” is not going to change our preferences. I also feel many (not all) who would prefer to use mesh heads because they may have the money to buy this items but lacked the skill to create a pleasing shape on their own. I have seen avatars which I would consider “noobie” in appearance but they have a mesh head, mesh body, etc. The point is you can have all the latest in mesh fashion and still not look that great because in the end a sense of “style” means so much more! Ever notice how many store owners only occasionally use mesh “heads” in their advertisements? Many would say store owners “usually” have some of the best avatars in SL but many of them have not used mesh heads. Some of them do but many of them use them only occasionally (if at all). I believe store creators feel as many of us do (we want to keep OUR face OUR creation) but in the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? I personally have been told by many people that my avatar looks great from just random people, I do feel I have a good sense of style. I have been a resident of SL since 2008 and I know my stuff, I know what is popular and I have the money to buy what I want but I refuse to look the way the creator wants me to look particularly when it going to be MY face in SL and my bf hated the look of the mesh heads! So to end this, I really do not think the “fiery” comments had anything to do with mesh, it had more to do with your article and the terminology you used in it. Maybe this is just the way you express yourself? Then again you were rather insulting in your response to some of us. Just keep that in mind…

        • Becky May 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm

          Ok 🙂

        • Caitlin Tobias May 24, 2015 at 4:12 pm

          ‘I also agree with Caitlin, the first picture (which I assume is you) is creepy! ‘

          Wait. Wat. I did not say it was creepy. Please do not put words in my mouth, thanks.
          I did a ‘whoa’ and Becky knows I am not a fan of smiling avatars and I do not like teeth on avatars as such, but I wouldn’t call her – or anyone else – creepy for sporting them and liking them. To each their own, and even with her big smile and teeth.. Becky is my friend 🙂

      • Ever Afterr May 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

        Your cost breakdown is a very good point; sometimes I wish that Linden dollars translated much more closely to their “real world” currency counterparts. Personally speaking, it always throws me off to think in terms of hundreds and thousands for virtual world goods. Whereas I might not think twice about spending $5 USD on something, the number L$1250 seems like a Serious Investment in comparison. It’s funny and perplexing the way the mind works!

        My own goal is to earn Linden dollars directly, which means seeking some kind of in-world employment – another personal decision that surprisingly rankles a lot of people and inspires a lot of strong opinions, not unlike the decision to wear or not wear mesh heads. And I can already tell that one of my first purchases will be Slink feet, because SHOES! But ultimately whether people adopt mesh bodies or parts would ideally be a decision that others would not be compelled to comment on. As Caitlin said above, what are we supposed to do with comments criticizing our avatar appearance or style, or any other choices we make? No one is asking people to stifle their opinions, but sharing them respectfully seems a reasonable ask. 🙂

        • Becky May 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm

          Oh my, our relationship with money in Second Life is a wild and wacky minefield of its own! 🙂

          I’ve long thought that Linden Dollars should be pegged to USD, until someone with a lot more knowledge about currency told me that was an economically terrible idea. I can’t remember the reasons now, but his explanation made good sense to me at the time. I do imagine the sheer sound of “thousands of Linden dollars” makes an impact on how expensive many people see things though.

          Inworld employment. Yeah, with that one you’ll get people telling you must be mentally deficient to even consider working inworld 🙂 “I work enough in RL” is a typical refrain. Again, to each their own. If you want to work, work. If you don’t want to work, don’t work. But why does anyone feel the need to tell other people not to work if it seems right for them?

  21. Caitlin Tobias May 24, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Whoa x 2!
    1) Becky, that first picture of you in this post with the teeth smile: can you just not, please?!
    2) I am amazed and surprised by the uproar and passion in the comments!

    OK, so I have a mesh head and blogged about it, given it my honest thoughts and doubts. I have always thought – and perhaps still do a bit – that mesh heads are the meh.

    Why did I try and get one?
    In my case, lots of curiosity and well..vanity. I like pretty pictures, taking pics in SL is my hobby. I love to go out and snapshot away and then I get home and look at my pics and when in an arty mood I will work on them.
    So, a mesh head in my case – for now – is like my COCO Doll avatar, my mesh claws, my android arms. All parts I love using for how they look and how I can use them to obtain a certain image/pic.

    I’ve gotten a lot of comments, opinions if you will, about the mesh head the past days – as I ventured out in public while wearing it. Varying from people loving my new look (‘Love your new look!’) , people unsure on if I am serious (‘Oh nice pics and this head suits your outfit today but…..’) and people flat out saying they think it is not Caity anymore (‘OMG What did you do to Caity!’).

    The thing is. What should I do with all those comments, if anything? I like looking at my avatar, after all she is what I see most of the time on my screen, and I know I am still me – being it an android, the COCO doll or whatever.
    Also, and this may strike me the hardest: I have never, ever IM’ed someone – or commented on a pic – to tell them their new look was not right in my opinion. I feel: to each their own.
    Who am I to tell someone I do not like their head/boobs/skin/ass/eyes?
    Yet, for some reason, I get those messages. And somehow, it affects me. It makes me want to defend myself, while..why should I?

    No I do not think I look like all the other mesh-head wearers but even if I was…so what?
    Can we just accept looks and choices, without judging our books by the cover….please. I love my mesh head and I equally love my ‘old’ face too. I am a switcher, loving so many looks, the mesh head is a part of it. Love it, hate it, you do not ‘need’ to have a mesh head, but you also do not need to bash them so passionately.

    • Becky May 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for the comment, I agree with all of it, except for the start where you said you don’t like my teeth!

      Heh.

      I’ve already written a post about how we ought to not fear big smiles on avatar faces. I figure we tend to look much too stern and sad so much of the time. I like to smile because I’m happy, and when I think a smile on an avatar looks natural – I go for it! Also, I’m using it as part of a mixed RL/SL reality pic I’m making, because I smile just like that in the vast majority of my RL pics. That smile looks like my RL smile. OMG, did you just criticise my RL smile??

      /me sobs.

      In all seriousness, I agree. I think it is very hard for many people to hold to seemingly divergent opinions at once. For example:

      – “I like my mesh head but I like my system face too”, or

      – “I don’t like a mesh head for me but I can still see the merits in them for others”

      – “Your look may not be for me but I respect that you like it for you”

      Instead, it’s SOOOOO much easier to be simplistically binary:

      “All mesh heads look bad”

      “Everything in this post is wrong”

      “All Volkswagens look the same”

      “All avatar smiles are creepy!”

      Uh oh, I feel another yawn coming on 😉

  22. Whimsy Winx May 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you for a thoughtful, educated post on the misconceptions about mesh heads. I cringe when I hear someone say “they all look alike”. Really? You can’t tell the difference between three people standing side by side, one wearing say a Slink Becky, another in Logo’s Sadie, and another wearing LeLutka Aria? I can. Even within a line say like from LeLutka, given a few minutes to really look at it, I can see the differences.

    While there might be a common factor in amongst a line of heads from the same creator, due to their aesthetics, there are differences. If this is hard to imagine, go look at doll creators in real life. You will see there is an aesthetic they are putting into their dolls, that distinctly identifies them at first glance as made by that sculptor.

    When a designer comes out with new heads, my friends and I sit side by side, changing our hair, and skin appliers, and dressing and wonder at how we are all able to look different. We might look close enough to be sisters, or even cousins, but we are not the same. People who claim this is the issue, are sadly mistaken, as even if we are not wearing heads, but skins from the same creator, we will look as well as sisters, or cousins in some way, and that is also sometimes not the case. Styling really goes a long way. But my example is go do a search for say Celestial Studio’s Vogue skin line, and go look at photos of people wear them. They are very identifiable, and you can see similarities. But those avatars all thought they looked “unique” from the next.

    When I hear that they all look the same, I write that person off as someone who, either can’t afford them, or the appliers, can’t make a decision, slow or resistant to change, lazy, or is suffering under the misconception they are more unique then any one else on the grid. They may not suit you, and your ‘style’, but it suits us, the mesh head wearers.

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks Whimsy. I appreciate your perspective as you seem to have more experience with customising mesh heads than I do. Like Auryn before me, I’m finding the polarisation I’m seeing on this issue to be quite fascinating.

      • Sasy Scarborough May 23, 2015 at 6:32 pm

        This is an example of what Whimsy was talking about, this is Ashia, Whimsy and myself, in identical shorts and tops, because as the post says, we tend to buy the same things…and wanted to play on that. As Whimsy said, we look similar, we could be family or just really close friends, or maybe someones Daddy visited someones Mummy, who knows. But this is us https://www.flickr.com/photos/sasyscarborough/17357417911/in/dateposted-public/ and as you look at the next pic, I would not imagine you would ever think it was the same head. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sasyscarborough/16756017553 as this one https://www.flickr.com/photos/sasyscarborough/17004764418

        I love the heads I wear, and while not all appliers suit my feeling of my look, I love that we are not starved for choice lately. With the implementing of body parts, it has definitely made a big upsweep to the SL economy, and for that I am really glad, because we were losing so much talent.

        • Becky May 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm

          Great examples in showing the diversity that can be found in even the same mesh head! Thanks for sharing that.

  23. Star May 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    “Do you also disagree with the science I cite as well? That’s a lot to disagree with!” Yes I do, your post is taking SL far too seriously, you even brought up race to defend your opinion which almost could be taken offensively. You are far too harsh, you are bringing up science when SL is only a virtual community, avatars are not real people! Why are you making this a science? You also made it seem that people who don’t agree with you in the way you view things as having a “perceptual weakness” who are you to make this claim? This is not science nor is it about race, I feel it more closely resembles “twins” than people of the same race. I don’t want to get in a big discussion about this, I have spoke a lot to my friends concerning mesh heads and they do agree with me. The only reason I responded to this post is to let you know there are people out there that do still feel much differently than you do and guess what that’s ok. Don’t try to insult us by using REAL LIFE scenarios and compare them to how we view avatars, that’s ridiculous!

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Ok, so if I follow what you’re saying, you think that using science to explain what might happen in SL is “far too harsh” and “taking SL far too seriously” because “SL is only a virtual community, avatars are not real people.”

      Ok, maybe it will help if I explain why I think using science to explain and predict what happens in SL is important and useful.

      First, we can use science to explain all sorts of things, regardless of whether people are involved or not (there are whole branches of science that have little or nothing to do with people, so the people being involved is not a requirement for something to be studied with the use of scientific methods).

      Second, there is a lot of scientific study of virtual worlds going on all the time – with some universities even granting degrees in areas surrounding the study of virtual worlds. People have masters degrees and PhDs in the subject. There are also independent labs that have arisen to study behaviour in virtual worlds.

      So no, I’m not making it a science. I don’t have to, because it already is.

      My point about perceptual weaknesses isn’t my opinion, it is a documented fact that has been shown to be reliably observed among people since it was first studied (nearly 100 years ago). I am not making the claim, it’s already well demonstrated. I am citing it, and suggesting that this phenomenon might explain other things, like how we look at mesh heads. It may or may not be true – I don’t know.

      It’s nice that your friends agree with you, but that doesn’t make your conclusions fact. Many people agree with unfounded opinions which doesn’t make them any more valid.

      Thanks for letting me know that people feel differently than I do. I guessed that, and yes, I’m totally ok with it 🙂

      I don’t however agree that I am insulting anyone by using real life scenarios when considering how we think about avatars in Second Life. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I disagree. I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all, because at the end of the day, we only have one life, one brain, and the way we conduct ourselves inworld is a product of real life, no matter how much you might deny it.

      • Star May 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm

        “It’s nice that your friends agree with you, but that doesn’t make your conclusions fact. Many people agree with unfounded opinions which doesn’t make them any more valid.” Wow! The same could be said about this ENTIRE article. Your arrogance has become apparent! Also, if other people have made scientific investigations with something as simple as SL and not like finding a cure for cancer I worry for them honestly. SL is only a virtual community nothing more nothing less. If you wish to reply to people who disagree with you in the manner you have done with me I really do hope to not meet you in SL or your unrezzed “wizard of oz” giant sized mesh head. That is all!

        • Becky May 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm

          No, actually it can’t be said for my entire article, or really any part of it. Nowhere do I justify my claims on the basis that my friends agree with me. You see, that in some ways is the point of using science to back up what you say, instead of using the opinions of those who might agree with you on the basis of solely their opinion. You can depend on science to be objective, and actually test their opinions.

      • Rucy May 24, 2015 at 2:13 am

        (there are whole branches of science that have little or nothing to do with people, so the people being involved is not a requirement for something to be studied with the use of scientific methods).
        Just wondering who was it that studied, with the use of scientific methods, these branches of science that have nothing to do with people? Was it not in fact…people? The fact people, with prejudices and often preconceived goals or objectives ‘study’ with ‘scientific methods’ anything at all doesn’t give it validity, and most definitely will impact the results.
        What are we talking about again? Oh yeah……..mesh heads.

        • Becky May 24, 2015 at 2:14 am

          The point made was that the subject of study was not people.

          • Rucy May 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

            I thought the point being made was that your argument had more validity because you backed it up with ‘science’.
            “Nowhere do I justify my claims on the basis that my friends agree with me. You see, that in some ways is the point of using science to back up what you say, instead of using the opinions of those who might agree with you on the basis of solely their opinion. You can depend on science to be objective, and actually test their opinions.”

            There is no difference between choosing some friends who share the same opinions as you, or some scientists who share the same opinions as you, to confirm in your own head that your opinions are more valid. Is it not the case that two scientists can study the same thing, using the same ‘scientific methods’ and get the same result, but draw very different conclusions from that result? If scientist ‘A’ comes to a conclusion that is very similar to an opinion I hold, can I say science backs me up? How about if scientist ‘B’ comes to a conclusion that is very similar to your opinions? Which of us is being ‘backed up’ by science? Both? Neither? We can pick and choose scientific sound bites that appear to confirm our own pre-held beliefs, to me this is a perceptual weaknesses manifested as confirmation bias.

            The point I am making is that perhaps you have come across as ‘arrogant’ to some readers of your article, and your comments that follow, because you seem to say that your opinions have more validity than those held by others, and of course they do not. Personally, while there are some interesting points made about base psychology, I found the article has very little to do with the practicalities of mesh heads (which is what I was looking for)

            • Becky May 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm

              There have been many points made. Sure, let’s talk about that one.

              Actually there is a very big difference between “choosing some friends who share the same opinions as you, or some scientists who share the same opinions as you, to confirm in your own head that your opinions are more valid.”

              Here is why: Your friends didn’t use scientific methods to make their conclusions. Scientists did, and their methods and results are laid out for scrutiny against their peers, who use similar methods to aim to replicate these results.

              Yes, different scientific studies can arrive at different results, but that is not the case for the science I cite. Neither are they “sound bites”. The studies I cite are well established theories that have been replicated many times, and even through meta-analyses. If you don’t know what that is, it means studies of many other studies. This might assist in learning more about this subject when it comes to ethnicity and racial face perception: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_perception#Ethnicity

              I find it interesting that you feel qualified to tell me how I am coming across in my article. Did you glean this from the a couple of comments made on the post, in comparison to the 400+ views this post has already received? If so, that is a very small sample from which to make that generalisation. Perhaps you should take a poll to validate your assumptions and claims – or would that be too scientific?

              It is unfortunate that you found the article didn’t meet your needs surrounding the practicality of mesh heads. I’m not surprised however, because that is not the purpose of the article. Perhaps going to the vendors themselves, or some bloggers who write articles like that might better suit your needs?

            • Rucy May 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm

              You said – ‘Here is why: Your friends didn’t use scientific methods to make their conclusions. Scientists did, and their methods and results are laid out for scrutiny against their peers, who use similar methods to aim to replicate these results.’
              As I have already pointed out, regardless of if a scientists peers use similar methods and do in fact replicate the same results, this doesn’t mean they will reach the same conclusion. Do you think that all scientists sit around agreeing with on another and patting each other on the back?
              To say we are all 99.9% similar is a sound bite, and hugely irrelevant unless you live in a textbook. While we may be 99.9% similar genetically, all you have to do is walk down any road and look at the faces of the people that pass you by, they all look very different.
              You also said – ‘I find it interesting that you feel qualified to tell me how I am coming across in my article. Did you glean this from the a couple of comments made on the post, in comparison to the 400+ views this post has already received? If so, that is a very small sample from which to make that generalisation. Perhaps you should take a poll to validate your assumptions and claims – or would that be too scientific?’
              Firstly I didn’t tell you how you were coming across in your article, I said ‘perhaps you have come across as ‘arrogant’ to some readers of your article, and your comments that follow, because you seem to say that your opinions have more validity than those held by others, and of course they do not.’
              You have quite clearly come across as arrogant to some readers, they have expressed that view in the comments. I do actually agree however, you do come across as incredibly arrogant in your responses to the comments made here. You find it interesting that I feel qualified to express my own opinion? Really? I would say I am uniquely qualified to do so, it is my opinion. It is sheer arrogance that once again you seem to believe your opinion is more valid that anyone else’s. I have no interest in conducting a pole of your readers, I don’t need to have my own opinion validated by anyone, and by your own standards such a pole wouldn’t be scientific what so ever.
              You comments have done nothing other than to confirm you missed my point entirely.
              It seems I am unable to post this as a reply to your last comments, did you block me from doing so? I wonder why?

            • Becky May 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

              It seems to me that you are arguing against things I did not say, or with someone else.

              “As I have already pointed out, regardless of if a scientists peers use similar methods and do in fact replicate the same results, this doesn’t mean they will reach the same conclusion.”

              I did not say that all scientists reach the same conclusions.

              “While we may be 99.9% similar genetically, all you have to do is walk down any road and look at the faces of the people that pass you by, they all look very different.”

              99.9% genetic similarity can be made into a soundbite, but that does not mean it isn’t based in genetic fact – which it is. Further, I didn’t say we didn’t look different. We do, but in the overall scheme of things we still look the more same than different, especially with those from groups with whom we are less familiar.

              “You seem to say that your opinions have more validity than those held by others, and of course they do not.’

              The facts I find help to inform my opinions as I’m can only guess that your facts help to inform your opinions. Show me facts that dispute my opinions and I will probably change my opinion. I would expect the same from you.

              “You have quite clearly come across as arrogant to some readers, they have expressed that view in the comments.”

              I can’t worry about whether I come across as arrogant to you, or anyone else, because your perceptions are within your control, not mine.

              “I don’t need to have my own opinion validated by anyone.”

              That much is clear. I find it more valuable to review research that informs my opinions, before I claim they are fact.

              “You comments have done nothing other than to confirm you missed my point entirely.”

              Perhaps I did. What was the point? I’m honestly not being inflammatory here, I’m actually losing the plot 🙂

            • Rucy May 24, 2015 at 5:31 pm

              It seems I was quite wrong to state I had been blocked from commenting on your last comment to me. It was my mistake.

  24. Star May 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Ok, I am going to start off and say that I completely disagree with this article. In SL I always have the latest in mesh fashion including a mesh body/body parts which I always use but I have not purchased the mesh head. I have no issue with purchasing items in SL. I have tried all the popular mesh heads and I still haven’t purchased one of them, why? Well, first of all you claim that they are unique and do not make you look all alike but I can honestly can say that I can tell right off where each mesh head comes from (If you see one of them you see them all). I am one of those people who believes that they do take way from your individuality. With the mesh bodies at least you can edit them quite a bit with the mesh heads not so much. I know different skins can change that a bit but still it’s not enough. I must say in all honesty I even view people who wear mesh has differently (no offense). I play a lot of MMORPG’s and I have always viewed people who wear mesh heads as NPC’s not actual avatars. I know that you do have a person behind the computer but I have a hard them viewing them as so. My RL sister uses a head from TSG and yes she made it look cute however it does fit into the anime image. Most anime characters all look alike to me so it’s understandable why that would make sense to look a like but all the other heads in SL where you would want to look to unique fails to do so. I honestly will not purchase a mesh head unless we are able to really edit it. I believe holding on to your individuality in SL and that is the most important thing. I do challenge mesh head creators to allow us more control over the image WE wish to have rather than the image they want us to have when wearing a mesh head this just has not been done yet.

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      “Ok, I am going to start off and say that I completely disagree with this article.”

      You disagreed with all of it? Not even one statement or claim? Even the part when I said that “While I prefer the look of mesh heads in general, that’s not to say they are perfect. Further, I don’t judge those who prefer not to use them any differently than those that do.”

      Do you also disagree with the science I cite as well? That’s a lot to disagree with!

      “first of all you claim that they are unique and do not make you look all alike”

      If you had read my post, you will note that no where did I say that mesh heads were unique. In fact, I argue against the need to be unique, with is something I feel you may have missed.

      “I have always viewed people who wear mesh heads as NPC’s not actual avatars.”

      You have always done that? I wonder why that is? I might also argue that your inability to recognise that people who wear mesh heads are driven by real people behind their avatars and not NPCs might be aided by perhaps talking them for a while. Perhaps then you might realise that they are indeed real people? I’m curious, we’re not interacting between avatars right now. All you see is my blog and a few pictures of me, do you find it also hard to imagine that I too am a real person? I can assure you that an NPC is not writing this blog, at least as far as I know!

      “I honestly will not purchase a mesh head unless we are able to really edit it. I believe holding on to your individuality in SL and that is the most important thing.”

      And that’s good for you! I’m wondering why you feel the need to make everyone else see things the way you do, instead of looking at both sides of the issue and accepting that some people still feel like individuals even while wearing mesh heads, with or without the ability to edit them?

  25. receiveditemszero May 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    “This is like saying all Volkswagens all look alike. They don’t” – except they do and to state otherwise is mystifying. They may not all be identical, but they all look alike, every single last one of them: alike – very very alike. Two similar Volkswagens with the same paint job are nigh indistinguishable. To blandly state this isn’t the case seems like an intentional fallacy. I have nothing against Volkswagens but I know that if the streets and motorways were full of nothing but Volkswagen it would look homogenized and I’d find that dull. Mesh heads and those that sport them don’t annoy me but your article did.

  26. Sasy Scarborough May 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Hi, Great post, my friends and I have never said never about mesh heads, embraced from the start and loved. The longer you wear them, the more you see that it is PERSONALITY that shines through…while our eyes, hair choices, ears as you said, different things that we can add all do make a difference… it is you that shines through. As much as people can believe their SL default makes them somehow unique, there were always only so many sliders to move around, and often, depending on the skins, you would see very very similar looking girls walking the grid, but confident in their uniqueness.

    You also have shape stores, selling people out of a box/bag, that pretty much guarantees unless you modify – if the shape is in fact event mod – that you will look like at least 10 other people. In the blogging world you can roll a feed and stop knowing instantly who a post is by without reading it, if you are familiar with ‘THEM’ not their faces, sometimes yes that is a factor, but it is their overall way of doing things that lets you be sure it is them.

    Friends tend to go in similar travels along their route to their look, we tend to want to be similar in height, because it’s comfortable, we tend to share sizes on sliders with eachother, because something doesn’t fit one of us correctly, but does the other. We have common interests, we share passion, and humor and all those things that make us friends…it is only natural that we do end up having similar looks. Just like in RL there are many friends and partners who could be mistaken for siblings.

    We often see people asking in chat, or plurk or wherever, to give an opinion on a skin for someone. Comparing before and after shots, and there are all these outcries of ‘it is not you’ as you mentioned. Thing is, that it is “YOU” that wanted to try something new, something in them that day made them want to explore other possibilities, and that feeling wont go away really, even if others tear it down. Next time anyone feels that feeling, go for it, put your feelings first, and if it just takes wearing a demo around your house in private for a few days to get used to it, do it. If you find that it was a passing moment, move on, it might just not be the new look you sought, but keep on trying, keep on experimenting, and keep on pushing to be happy in whatever “skin/head/Dragon Avatar” you are in, first life or second.

    xoxoxSasyxoxox

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts Sasy. I did consider the many additional modifications one can make with shape but it ended up in the bin when I was editing my post. It’s a really good point though, that beyond our faces, our shapes, clothes, AOs add a huge amount of variation to our appearances. Beyond that of course, everything we are goes so far beyond appearances that it’s even possible to have a friendly relationship with SLers on social media and blogs alone!

      You also make a great point about overall style. I’m pretty sure that no matter what I looked like, most people would recognise a post coming from me from miles away – simply because very few write about the things I do and in the way I write them, as I’m sure is the case for many many bloggers out there too.

      I totally agree that friends end up looking similar – it’s only natural that we share what we like and like what we share. I’m not sure why your comment about made me instantly think about dogs that end up looking like their owners (or vice versa?), but I’ll leave that thought alone for now 🙂

      Lastly, thanks so much for the last paragraph of your comment. You summarised what I meant to imply by my last point (about resisting the change in others) very eloquently. So much of this experience is about just that: experimentation. People, who might even mean well, would do well to consider the effects of what they might say, and that it might just get in the way of self-discovery.

      • Sasy Scarborough May 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm

        Thank you and it is a wonderful post about all of us in SL really, mesh heads aside. There was also a big uproar when mesh feet did hit the grid, you may have missed the whole FrankenFeet debates that circulated, but luckily they didn’t sway those that love shoes more.

        xoxoSasyxoxo

        • Becky May 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

          Yes, I must have missed that. It surprises me too! I wonder when SL and its residents will cease to surprise me, hopefully never 🙂

  27. Auryn Beorn May 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    First of all, very well written post!

    Second: Long comment alert =)

    Highlighting false dichotomies is important. I’m neither a mesh head defender, nor I plain reject them out of fear. As I explained, I use them at times, other times, no. For example, if I’m at a crowded place, I won’t use one, because of technical reasons: computer roaring loud, and I don’t want to cause that extra stress either on others’ computers. Same reason why you will hardly see me wear my beloved mesh body in crowded places.

    However, since I published my post, I’m observing some of the reactions in the SL feed, and there are two things that call my attention. First, in my post, I never said by all means you should wear a mesh head, damnit!, gun pointing at head included. Mesh heads weren’t even the main point of my rambling. They came to my mind just as a particular case of a more general instance of the let’s scream out loud how unique I am, because I need to feel I am unique and that others know phenomenon, which often leads to contradicting yourself (like you clearly show with the tattoos example). It’s interesting to me that a side example was taken as the whole of the article, and my, with such passion! (One has to wonder why).

    But then, after taking a point that wasn’t even the point I was presenting, I observe that I’m explained once and again, why non-mesh heads are better, as if I said that mesh heads were better. “We have sliders”, I hear. No kidding. Six years in SL, and I hadn’t realized of that before, thanks for explaining! </sarcasm>

    The point where I’m trying to get is that, by explaining that mesh heads aren’t necessarily all that bad, it seems I’m being labeled as “mesh head defender”, and others feel the need to explain to me why I’m wrong, why until we have sliders they’re not the big deal… It’s like if some people were arguing against something I haven’t said, as if I had said it. It feels really strange, not to say other words, having to repeat “if they don’t work for you, don’t use them”. Really, I’m not saying that (generic) you should wear them! I’m not saying that mesh heads are better or worse!

    I was talking about being unique – or not, and some details I had observed about. Mesh heads were never the point of what I wrote: they were an example. But some of the reactions to what some people seem to think that I wrote, mesh heads are better, are proving what was my point: when you need to scream loud how unique you are, you’re putting yourself into the set of people that scream loud how unique they are – Quite of a huge set. Quite normal. That’s the big irony I observe each time that someone needs to lecture me about why the SL avatar head is better, arguing something that I never said. (And honestly, it gets tiring.)

    And as you say in your post: Never. Say. Never. That’s a lesson my big mouth taught me (I’ve had to swallow so many things I said in this life, together with a piece of my -hurt- pride.)

    Now, on to misconception 3: Ouch!

    Okay, I didn’t do my homework. When I mentioned that by default we’re unique anyway, I was thinking in DNA combinations regarding the configuration of all our body, inside and out. I didn’t think that not all those combinations are necessarily useful nor will make us recognizable. I had more an idea of “your stomach might be a little different than others, your lungs, your braincell connections, height, size…”, but certainly it’s not our lungs what give us away.

    Also, I didn’t look up on the numbers you bring: we’re about 99.9% genetically the same. So, shame on me for falling on misconception #3 blushes

    (I said that, trying to tell people “you really don’t have to try hard to be unique if you want to be unique: you already are”. My intention was to cheer up, but now I realize that wasn’t something useful to say, nor based in what data shows.)

    I’m not worried about being average. At all. Like you mention, it is really difficult to be all that unique. Most of us watch the same movies/TV series, read the same books, like the same music, share the same Internet memes… Get married, have kids, make barbeques on Sunday, go to the same pubs, restaurants…

    So, once again, why the fear of not being unique? Why do we put so much of our SL-uniqueness on our face, when we end doing the same things, visiting the same places, decorating our houses with the same furniture, and rushing to be the first ones posting photos with the last clothing sets that we want to buy before others in the latest trendy event that opened just five minutes ago? (I hope one can see that I’m exaggerating a little in this paragraph.)

    Life is really easier, and we contradict ourselves a lot less, if we just don’t worry about being unique.

    You point at something interesting too, that reminded me of one thing I didn’t say at the moment because it would sound like “there it goes the smartass”. You mention that despite all the different combinations provided by sliders, we tend to configure our faces around a central area, so again, there’s not that much variety around as we want to think. What I’ve wanted to say to some people screaming about this need of being unique is, “you want to be unique? Why don’t you skew your head to one side, make it pointy, separate your eyes like a bunny and go on sporting the most up-turned smile?”

    Maybe because it’s not about being unique in the end.

    Maybe because it’s more about beauty standards, even if those standards are, like the word says… Well. Standard. Average. Normal.

    I thought of the hands and feet too, but again, I didn’t want to mention because “there it goes the smartass”. I also thought about the doll avatar. When people started using them for some photos, I didn’t read anything about omg no, what about my uniqueness. Maybe because it was about the art? I don’t know.

    About “Change is bad”.

    Everything changes in life. Everything. Maybe because I’m a programmer, I’m used to this.

    I learned BASIC when I was 11. Then I learned C when I was 17. I was curious about Pascal and started fiddling with it when I was 19. It turns out that was useful, and I had to learn Delphi, which is based on Pascal but is oriented to objects and events, and had a lot more of things to learn about. Meanwhile, the web started to arrive to our homes (it did to mine, in 1997), and by that time I was already learning HTML. When I thought I had HTML mastered, new tags were added. CSS came. Then XHTML was proposed. CSS was expanded with more properties. All while I was learning Javascript. Because of Delphi I learned SQL. Being working with web, I had to learn MySQL. PostgreSQL. Of course, PHP. AJAX was added to Javascript. Then I arrive to SL, and I learn LSL. When I think I have it more or less sorted out in my mind, I go on learning Blender, and now Sansar is in the works, with (of course) a new language that we’ll have to learn and work with.

    All this, not to mention to all the changes that happen at your own workplace. Your family. Your life. People marry, others die, others are born. You have friends, you lose friends, you get a job, you lose a job. You learn about new technology. Whether you decide using it or not, it’s there, it changes, it evolves. It never stops.

    I understand that stability is comforting. It gives us a safe place in all this (often stressing and distressing) turmoil that is life. But if we don’t get used to the idea that change happens, we may leaving out good things in our life.

    This goes for mesh heads (never say “never” – really)… and for everything else.

    Before I stop rambling, I’ll add another smartass comment, since I’ve already dropped one.

    You don’t want to wear a mesh head? Then wear an alpha layer that makes your SL avatar’s head invisible, because I have bad news for you: The SL avatar is a… MESH. Less detailed than modern meshes, but mesh in the end. That could actually make you quite unique, if uniqueness is your concern! I sure haven’t seen many of those in SL.

    runs away before she’s burned

    (Have everybody a great day!)

    • Sasy Scarborough May 23, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      ugh I misread you saying not many, as not any. My Partner was wearing a prim cube the other day, with googly eyes, let your freak flag fly

      • Auryn Beorn May 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm

        Haha, it’s okay!
        By the way, I never thought before of looking up for headless avatars. I can see new possibilities of creeping people out… whistles

    • Becky May 23, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Ok, now I see how people feel when they get my enormously long posts in their inboxes! 😉 Seriously though, thank you for the effort you’ve taken to clarify some issues, and again, I’m finding your thoughts both lucid and compelling.

      On false dichotomies, it takes considered thought to see beyond the black and white, so it’s actually somewhat predictable that when one makes a case for greyness, people find it challenging to see it as anything other than black and white. If they’re on the black side, they’ll jump on you to see it their way, aiming to point out how wrong you are. If they’re on the white side, they’ll thank you for defending their cause. All the while, all you’ve been doing, is asking people to look at the complexities of the issue beyond simple binary views that are much easier to express and cling to. The very same thing happened with my most where I asked from some consideration before attacking Hamlet Au personally for the views he shared. Sadly, our lowered attention spans today seem to not allow for much in the way of deeper thought, when it’s so much easier to just to just appeal to humour and soundbites with Twitter and Facebook updates, instead of investing the effort to really examine an issue and consider the complexities found therein.

      I get you on the distinction between genetic difference and physical differences. Sorry if it seems I called you out on that, it wasn’t my intention. I have a bit of a bugbear with people using genetics to over-explain everything, from ethnic stereoptypes right up to how they might be grumpy in the morning because “they were born that way”. This is also another area where people get confused – yes we are genetically unique, but as we both agree, it doesn’t really make us all that different in the overall scheme of things.

      You make an excellent point about beauty standards – I wish I’d remembered that! You are absolutely right on this, we tend to quest after a perceived and quite arbitrary standard of beauty and attractiveness – which constantly changes over time – so of course we’re going to feel the compulsion to mirror those standards in the way we look! All I need are two words to exemplify the quite arbitrary and trendy nature of the appeal of non-sensical beauty standards: thigh gap.

      Excellent follow on points about resistance to change, and how futile it is to do so, when change is so inevitable. Thanks!

  28. Laetizia Coronet May 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I worked long and hard to arrive at a point where I am truly happy with the way Laetizia looks, up to a few months ago where I changed some essential points in her face. She has a few imperfections which I added on purpose, since perfect(ly symmetrical) faces are unnatural. But I doubt if mesh head sellers in SL will ever go that way. Give me a mesh head that I can tweak just like a “system” head (which technically is also mesh!) and I might consider it.

    • Becky May 24, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for your comment Laetizia 🙂

    • Venus Petrov May 29, 2015 at 12:39 am

      Interesting reflections on head in Second Life. As I said in my first comment on the feed to Auryn’s blog post: ” I would be happier if there were mesh heads that would conform to my sliders.” Perhaps there will be sometime in the future. And, yes, I can recognize the Lelutka heads because there have been so many from that ‘family’ released recently and they do have a bit of the clone look about them. Recently, I purchased a mesh head so I could play with it a bit. Shocker. She (the head) did not feel like Venus at all. After about six years with a fairly ‘stable’ face (not talking about my brain, here 🙂 ) it was like trying on a different avatar.
      So, what will I do? Whatever I want to do! And, I’d expect everyone else to do what *they* want to do.

      • Venus Petrov May 29, 2015 at 12:42 am

        Oops meant to post this comment at the end but slipped up. Apologies.

      • Becky May 29, 2015 at 5:56 am

        Great stuff 🙂 Everyone should do what they want to do.

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