I have to admit that, as a blogger, I’m effectively in semi-retirement. RL obligations keep me distracted from doing things in-world and from blogging. Also, I lack the motivation and drive I used to have. I guess you could say that all these years in Second Life have caused a fair bit of fatigue. However, I still care enough about SL and similar free-style virtual worlds in general to try and promote policies that don’t ruin their potential. Last time around, I participated in the protests against the destructive EU Copyright Directive, whose articles 15 (formerly 11) and 17 (formerly 13) pose a grave existential threat to virtual worlds like SL and (unsuccessfully) lobbied my country’s MEPs to vote against it. Only two did – the others chose to become accomplices to Axel Voss’ and Emmanuel Macron’s machinations.
Anyway, here I am, blogging again, but not one of my usual long-form opinion pieces. Instead, I chose to blog about my shape, necro-posting one of Strawberry Linden’s (née Singh) old memes. If you’re wondering why… Well, the truth is, I simply felt like it, and I had a few reasons to do it. You see, I’d been tinkering with my shape a wee bit, so I thought I’d give you an opportunity to compare this version of me to the previous ones. Finally, I have a bunch of things to say about it all.
So, what did I change this time? As I’ve stated several times before, I’ve been on a mission to make my avatar more realistic in both size and proportions, as opposed to the gargantuan avatars with T-Rex arms that are still the norm in SL – and yes, my shape was like that for many years. For more details on the subject matter, please refer to Penny Patton’s post on avatar proportions and scale, and to the first time I took the “My Digits” challenge. 2014 was pretty much the year that I settled to a more realistic height – 22 (or 1.70m / 5’7″). That matched my RL height, but I decided to make my avatar even closer to a more realistic average for female bodies. So, I decided to go all-out and reduce my height to 20 (1.67m / 5’5¾”). Yeah, I know that’s a seriously small avatar by SL standards, but changing your camera settings and downsizing everything to RL size, however tedious (especially with furniture that features animations, this can even be quite involved with rescripting and whatnot), is rewarding, as you get to do more on smaller parcels. I also made my avatar less leggy – I made my torso longer and my legs somewhat shorter, by increasing the Torso Length and lowering the Leg Length: 43, respectively. Finally, I gave myself a bit of a virtual boob job, because why the hell not.
So, in a nutshell, here are my current measurements:
Body Thickness: 25
Body Fat: 9
Head Size: 47
Torso Muscles: 39
Breast Size: 66
Breast Buoyancy: 53
Arm Length: 96
Hand Size: 20
Torso Length: 54
Love Handles: 33
Belly Size: 7
Leg Muscles: 49
Leg Length: 43
Hip Length: 37
Hip Width: 45
Butt size: 34
Saddle Bags: 36
Note that, in this iteration of the “my digits” challenge, I mention the following parameters: Body Thickness, Breast Buoyancy, and Hip Length. They were not mentioned at all by Strawberry, and so I didn’t record them in my blog posts. This means I don’t have a history of their past values. At any rate, I decided to mention them this time, since the sliders seem to interact with each other.
Now, since Strawberry started this meme, there have been two major innovations regarding SL avatars: Fitmesh bodies and the Bento project. Each time around, Strawberry set out a number of questions for bloggers to answer. Naturally, as we get more and more accustomed to mesh bodies and heads, our use model evolves and the questions we ask and answer change. However, I believe that, since Fitmesh and Bento have already become quite well-established, it’d be more appropriate for me to share my observations and thoughts, rather than pose questions for you. So, here goes:
I’ve found myself using just one mesh body for everything. In general, I tend to find something I like and then stick with it until I no longer like it. So, I still use the same mesh body I’ve been using since 2016: the Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle, which has become the de facto standard for female mesh bodies in SL. Some may say it’s starting to get on a bit, but it still looks good, it includes all the bits I need (body, hands, feet), it’s very well-supported with skins, clothes, shoes, jewellery, and all sorts of accessories, and its HUD is still the best I know of. Besides, since I’m not a fashion blogger, I don’t need to keep lots and lots of different bodies in my inventory.
Regarding feet: Sadly, Maitreya only offers three arches for its feet: flat, medium, which corresponds approximately to a high heel RL shoe with a 10 cm (4″) heel, and high, which corresponds to a 12 cm (5″) heel. Between the flat and medium heel, there’s a glaring omission – the so-called kitten heel: in RL, it’s those shoes whose heels range from 5 cm (2″) to 8 cm (approximately 3″ 5/32). In RL, I wear such shoes very often – be they platforms, wedges, or single-sole shoes with a separate heel, they are my go-to choices for work, for going out, etc. I keep my beloved high and ultra-high “statement” heels for more special occasions, which are rare, unfortunately. Sadly, only SLink offers a “kitten heel”, and shoes for this are very thin on the ground, and most of those that exist are complete crap, which is a crying shame, as this is the most realistic arch. Let’s face it, platform wedge sandals with a completely casual design and an ultra-high arch are the epitome of cringe: they don’t say “I’m sexy”, they say “I don’t know a thing about the female anatomy”.
Fitmesh bodies and fiddling with my shape: Before the advent of Fitmesh bodies, I was struggling with my default (now referred to as “legacy”) body. The feet and hands were a complete horror, the mapping of the inner thighs was even worse, and no amount of tweaking it could make it look good. Most Fitmesh bodies simply look a lot better, and they make experimentation with one’s shape a lot more rewarding. Also, as they have their own design personality (for instance, see how SLink and Belleza offer different bodies for different body types), they encourage exploration and self-expression through the crafting of your avatar shape a lot more.
My shape has evolved since I started using mesh bodies. It just follows from what I said earlier. I must note here that the evolution of my shape has gone hand-in-hand with the evolution of my camera offsets – as they became progressively tighter, thus allowing me to make use of smaller spaces, I’ve focused on realism and natural proportions. Thus:
- My avatar has become progressively shorter;
- Its arms and torso have become progressively longer in comparison to the legs;
- It has become progressively curvier and less “supermodel wannabe”;
- I’ve become more secure (OK, some RL soul searching has played a part in this) in making my avatar look more like the way I do in RL, including how I’m aging. Being in my late 30s, I do have some cellulite and I don’t shy away from using Izzie’s Cellulite & Stretch Marks appliers by Izzie Button.
Bento has also brought about significant changes to my avatar. Again, I’m the sort of person who finds something she likes and sticks with it. So, I still use the LAQ Gaia Bento head – I like it a lot, the HUD is easy to work with, I get the option to switch certain alpha textures from alpha blending to alpha masking, and the range of expressions, once you get the hang of them, is quite nice for most occasions. Also, although I’ve yet to try any “unusual” Bento attachments, such as tails, wings, and the like, I’ve found Bento hands, and the animations and poses that make use of them, to be indispensable.
Evolution of my shape, 2013-2019 (in table form):
Style credits for this post:
- Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Maitreya Lara v4.1 by Onyx LeShelle
- Mesh Head: LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.05 by Mallory Cowen (L$1,500 for the head alone; the HUD costs L$3,000 and can be used with all LAQ heads, so you can have one HUD for all the LAQ heads in your inventory)
- Skin Applier:
- Body: LAQ ~Next Level – Maitreya Body Applier [3.0]
- Head: LAQ ~ Gaia Skin [3.0]
- Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
- Manicure & Pedicure: alaskametro<3 “Pride” nail art appliers by Alaska Metropolitan
- Tattoo Layers:
- Tattoo: Izzie’s – Flower Nipple Tattoo Appliers (Valentine’s Gift) by Izzie Button
- Skin Marks etc: Izzie’s Cellulite & Stretch Marks appliers by Izzie Button (I’m using only the Cellulite option)
- Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
- Hair: a kit bash of two designs from MINA Hair, the Carmen and the Tina, by Mina Nakamura (I unlinked the bangs from one and added them to the non-rigged version of the other)
- Bikini: [BB] Bikini – April – Maitreya Lara by Belzebubble
- Bangles: Izzie’s – 80’s Rainbow Bangles by Izzie Button
- (Yummy) Cleopatra Nose Ring – Diamond Flower Nose Ring – Silver by Polyester Partridge
- (Yummy) Silver Teardrop Septum – Aqua by Polyester Partridge
- PUNCH / Diamond Nose Ring (two of them worn on the left side of my nose) by Celandria Resident
- EarthStones Lip Gems Piercings – LAQ – Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
- Earthstones Belly Bugs – Maitreya – Butterfly Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
- Foot Jewellery:
- Barefoot Sandals: EarthStones Belize Barefoot Sandals – Fatpack by Abraxxa Anatine
- Toe Rings: [*K*] Pretty Toe Rings by Kate Laryukov
For the text on the first photo of this post, I’ve used the “GFS Neohellenic” font by the Greek Font Society.
Flickr Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmG9cjAK