How men and women draw up the “perfect body” in Second Life

A “perfect body” poll made the internet rounds in April last year: A lingerie company asked 500 men and 500 women to vote on their ideal celebrity body parts. Designers photoshopped the images to create four images of the “perfect body” based on results.

A few thoughts before I begin:

  1. Warning: This post contains naked bodies!
  2. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect body. It’s a silly internet poll, lighten up.
  3. All the body parts chosen were white. That’s probably due to the designers wanting to make it easier to photoshop similar skin tones, as opposed to a racially bigoted conspiracy.
  4. Beauty is more than skin-deep, and sexiness is more than just appearance. Yes, I know.
  5. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; this is an aggregate composition of many preferences, so it’s bound to look a little wonky.
  6. This post reports on generalisations. Your personal preferences may differ. That’s a given.

How men and women see a woman’s “perfect body”

Now that that is out of the way, the results for women aren’t surprising:

Perfect Female body 1

The body on the left is the perfect body according to women. The body on the right is the perfect body according to men.

The perfect female body according to men has big hair, big breasts (e.g. Kim Kardashian is a D cup while Jennifer Aniston is a B cup) and wider hips (than the body on the left). That isn’t surprising. Scientific evidence suggests men prefer specific waist to hip ratios that signify favorable child birthing bodies (see below).

What is surprising to me is that so many women in Second Life choose to appear as the body on the right (“male’s perfect female”), when this poll suggests their preference in RL would be for the body on the left (“female’s perfect female”).

In a few ways, the curviness of this body on the right is more realistic than the more slender figure on the left (due to skeletal structures alone). In real life, women might prefer the body on the left because it tends to easier to find clothes that fit it. Women might also prefer it because it’s more conducive to vigorous exercise. In Second Life, women might not have those concerns.

Second Life Mesh body designers tend to feature shapely (while still slender) bodies in their advertisements that I feel are more aligned with “male’s perfect female” of the poll. Here is the advertisement for the most popular mesh body in Second Life: Maitreya Lara. While this body looks like it could fit into the middle of the “perfect bodies” above, the default shape is one of the most svelte of the ones I’ve seen advertised:

Maitreya Mesh Body Ad

Yes, I know we can modify our shapes widely, and we do. What I’m referring to relates more to how designers advertise these bodies as opposed to how users might change their shapes after-market.

Off the shelf female avatar body types in virtual worlds, to me at least, appear to resemble the “male’s perfect female”: bigger breasts and wider hips. A brief scan of Second Life shapes shows that women in Second Life prefer to embody the”male’s perfect female” too.

Belleza and Slink similarly promote curvaceous, “male’s perfect female” body types. Here is Belleza’s Venus:

Belleza Mesh Body Venus

Belleza released fully figured Isis and Freya in June 2015, which are even more like “male’s perfect female”:

belleza-isis_vendor2

belleza-freya_vendor2

Slink advertises their Physique body with a default curvy shape.

SLink Physique Ad

If you can’t see the image here, follow this link: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SLink-Physique-Ad.jpg

In October 2015, probably due to popular demand, Slink released another body that’s even more curvy, and more aligned with”male’s perfect female”:

phys-large-hourglass

The Mesh Project (TMP) advertises their female body showing different shapes:

TMP Body Ad

If you can’t see the image here, go to: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TMP-Body-Ad.jpg

Apart from the figure on the far right, all the shapes are more similar to”male’s perfect female”.

As I said before, these shapes align neatly with what men find physically attractive:

In summary, men like:

  • a larger waist to hips ratio (7:10)
  • a high voice
  • long and lustrous, and healthy hair
  • smiling
  • less makeup
  • wearing red

How men and women see the a man’s “perfect body”

The results for how men and women see men’s bodies stack up like this:

Perfect Male

According to this poll, both men and women prefer defined muscular bodies on men. I’m not so sure about this. I think it depends on how you ask the question. A British menswear label asked men: “What do you think women find attractive”. They then asked women what they find attractive in men. They got a very different result:

perfect_man_body_1ag45j1-1ag4781

The figure on the left represents what men thought women find attractive. The figure on the right represents what women found attractive in men.

While I’ve seen no statistics to support this, I’d guess that Slink and TMP make the most highly functional men’s mesh bodies in Second Life. These are the bodies that men can wear a wider variety of clothes with. They’re popular, but that’s not saying much because the penetration of men’s mesh bodies in Second Life is relatively low. What’s strange is that neither of these bodies appears to align with the “male’s perfect male” out of the box.

This is how TMP advertise their male body:

TMP Male Body Ad

Slink advertises their male body with a more masculine shape with body hair. Perhaps these images speak to male mesh bodies made by creators that predominantly make products for women.

SLink Physique Male Ad

If you can’t see the image here, go to: http://www.canarybeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SLink-Physique-Male-Ad.jpg

The “male’s perfect male” seems closer to the products sold by Niramyth:

Niramyth

and Tellaq:

Tellaq broderick_update_poster_36

Researchers have also studied what women find attractive in men, and it has little to do with male bodies:

In summary, women find the following physical features attractive:

  • facial symmetry
  • deeper voices
  • larger jaws
  • limbic rings around the irises in the eyes
  • height

According to the body shape poll, a “male’s perfect female” is more curvaceous and a “male’s perfect male” is more muscularly developed. There’s nothing new there. Women preferred more slender bodies for both men and women than men did for either sex.

What’s surprising, is that mesh body designers promote the “male’s perfect female” when they sell female bodies, and with great success. Even more surprising, when women have the ability to shape their bodies any way they wish, they tend also to align with the “male’s perfect male” body type.

Men seem also to be more muscular than average in Second Life, which naturally aligns with the “male’s perfect male”. Perhaps one of the reasons for the lower penetration of men’s mesh avatars is because the most highly functioning avatars are not aligning with the “male’s perfect male”?

Which type of women’s body do you see more in Second Life? The “male’s perfect female” or the “female’s perfect female”?

Which type of men’s body do you see more in Second Life? The “male’s perfect male” or the “female’s perfect male?”

In my opinion, the dominant body style for both sexes in Second Life aligns more with what the poll reports men see as “perfect,” rather than what women see as “perfect”. It’s also fair to say that many women choose to not align themselves to anybody’s perception of the perfect female, but these tend to be the exception that proves the rule.

Is a bad thing that we like curvier bodies in Second Life? Men, after all, tend to prefer more shapely body types because it is genetically advantageous. Doesn’t it make sense that women would also wish to look more attractive to the opposite sex? Does it make sense to do despite their personal preferences? Are these preferences genuine for thinner bodies real, or are they manufactured by media that expects women to be ultra-thin?

With respect to how women choose to portray themselves in Second Life: Are women more interested in embodying fuller figures in Second Life, simply because they have the opportunity to do so? Or is it because women are naturally more fully figured in real life, and the internet poll’s results represents what women feel compelled to look like ? Or, have women noticed that they get more attention from men if they look this way, and therefore subconsciously or consciously reflect the “male’s perfect female” type?

Note: I seem to be having a problem with WordPress where some of the images of the post refuse to display. I’ve added links in their captions while I sort out the problem.

By | 2017-03-19T20:57:43+00:00 December 6th, 2015|Must Read, Second Life|7 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.

7 Comments

  1. Vellerie January 11, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I’m pretty happy with my RL shape and was with my SL shape until the advent of mesh. In RL I am a slender (not skinny) female with a little tummy, no tush to speak of, and a size C cup. My AV had the same basic shape. Along came mesh clothing with “standard” sizes. And mesh bodies.

    Even with my best attempt at looking natural, my stomach is now flat and my tush sticks out. With my mesh body, my wrists look like they will snap if I try to lift anything heavy. I’m not happy about the changes. I believe there is a percentage of both women and men who want to look less like man’s ideal and more average. But in our attempt to fit the clothing, we force our bodies to conform by modifying them and using alphas when we would rather the clothing fit us.

  2. Marcus December 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I wish i couold find a pale, hairy and chubby male body or skin. Mo such luck.

  3. Victoria Lenoirre December 9, 2015 at 1:18 am

    I happen to be Asian American and I disagree that Asians tend to be waif-like. I can see that Asians are becoming more “curvier” (don’t want to get into trouble for saying the other word) due to a lifestyle of eating more meat and more fastfood. Asians also love to text and play video games so the sedentary lifestyle is being adopted by many industrialized Asian cultures including China. I was in Taiwan in 2013 and there were McDonald’s and Pizza Huts every few blocks as well as many 7-11s. I also know several family friends who are definitely not slim and my family tends toward a wider frame and the curves easily appear as we age and neglect to exercise enough.

    Anyway…it was interesting how one woman I asked about the Belleza body thinks that the breasts look like “torpedoes” when in fact, the Belleza’s breasts look more like real women breasts than the popular Maitreya whose breasts don’t sag and magically stay round like apples. The Maitreya is my favorite body, don’t get me wrong. But it was interesting to compare the shapes and ponder over the torpedo comment. So, I took a look at photos of nude photography and art and found that most of the images showed pear-shaped breasts as opposed to the perfectly rounded breasts. If you look up breast implants, which I did one night, you can see that there is an option for a more natural look. The trend may go towards more less-perfect implants.

    I think that a lot of women in SL like that fantasy body, a body that has no sagging around the breasts and other prominent areas. I even found it scary that the shape for the Belleza Isis had these willow thin arms and waist, so I added some body fat and muscle. Even though some say I look like a model, my shape is actually a small/medium if you go by standard sizing.

    My hope is that someday there will be more clothes for the avatar who looks average, the one who doesn’t have really wide hips or really thin arms and waistline.

    I liked viewing the comparison photos. And omg, Bieber hair…NOOOO. I might have nightmares, thanks Becky. LOL. I’m surprised there was no mention of Fabio hair. Or wait, maybe that’s a 90s preference in men.

    I am a bit surprised that the women surveyed opted for the more burly look as opposed to the chiseled, sleek look. It probably has to do a lot with the majority age of the surveyed population or sample. I wonder if perhaps the more mature adults are more accepting or more used to the average look of the man who keeps reasonably fit but doesn’t have a defined six-pack. Anyone would need to train for 2 hours each day to look that “ripped” and most of us don’t have that kind of time or energy for that.

    Victoria

  4. Cybele Moon December 7, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Here is one more example of “sex sells” in SL. As if real life isn’t hard enough!! We must also be sexual creatures in SL conforming to what is aesthetically pleasing and pretending we all have perfectly desirable bodies. Those muscular avies arghhh!! I mean when is it enough ( in both worlds)! It’s a strange world where the reality is unrealistic! Of course depending on what we are looking for in a virtual world we can choose to go along with it or not. I see so many loving selfies in SL photography with our avies all looking like fashion magazine material that I am always pleased to discover that underneath that pouting pixel exterior there really are people of substance.

  5. Pussycat Catnap December 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Personally I feel our ideas of the perfect body are highly manipulated by social pressures.

    When I see the body on the left – I see a young man of about 17-23 or so… could easily be a similar body type. In other words: the kind of body a gay male of influential patronage might go for. I see this coupling all the time here in San Francisco. My gay friends so often seem to have one older or otherwise highly established guy, and then a ‘boyish’ protege.

    So this isn’t meant as a negative statement… just that – fashion has been more or less run by gay men for over half a century now. And in that half a century the ideal woman went from being a bit ‘chunkier’ like Marylin Monroe – to rail thin, like the youthful male ‘sidekick’ I see.

    And our ideas of personal beauty have moved along with it. But its not really a mature woman’s body is it? Women have a lot of curves, and if you eat a healthy diet – those curves run a little wild on you… 🙂

    I don’t think we’ve evolved all those curves just to play a cruel joke on women’s self image… I think we evolved all of that because that is what we went for over the last 6 million years after some fool fell out of a tree and forgot how to climb back up.

    If you start looking in African and Latin American cultures – you will find women seeking the image on the right for their bodies all over the place. Just flip on Spanish TV if you want an easy source on seeing this – the media there is putting models like that all over the screen. Women in countries like Brazil pay top dollar to get plastic surgery to add curve up top and down below. And African women are so famous for their curves that even up into the 1950s some European zoos would feature ‘captive native women’ in nude exhibits (though by the 1950s, they were employed in these positions, it didn’t start that way).

    It will take us many decades to ‘unsell’ the ‘waif’ image of the female in popular US / Western European culture… and that women in East Asia are naturally waif-like will likely slow this trend down as our ideals of beauty start to become more Korean and Chinese.
    – But I suspect SL is just reflecting first, global preference that is still more in line with a natural woman’s body (excepting for the fact that ‘natural in East Asia IS waif-like, and I have seen some nasty comments about Asian women because of this from people who do not realize that is their natural body shape)… and second… SL is “maybe” reflecting people going for their instinct and away from the socialization.

    But I still do see a LOT of waifs in SL.

  6. Tizzy Canucci December 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Well, that provided some amusement. They look bizarre when next to each other. I’d like to offer some additional thoughts.

    First is that design and appearance follows the available technology – styles in hair changed with the move from prim hair to mesh, and likewise the transition from standard bodies to mesh ones. The way of doing things changes how it looks, and as the new is something people are often attracted to, it becomes a fashion. So a while ago, there were loads of bodies around with really wide gaps between their thighs and very thick pouty downturned lips. It came it went.

    Everything is stylised. Comparing to rl is interesting, but when we go into sl we compare against others who are around, rather than just against rl standards. That said, the move to more realistic height avs has happened quietly – a couple of years ago, I felt very short, now it’s not exceptional, and that’s had a profound effect on av shape.

    Second, appearance is culturally specific and related to age – for me, the woman’s view of the woman has narrow hips compared to the average British woman, and is more typical of a 20 year old than a 30 year old or older. And I’d not describe wider hips as necessarily fuller overall – the avs are all almost fatless around the waist.

    As for Niramyth… I’d just laugh if confronted by that.

Comments are closed.