Second Life (SL) has always given us the ability to change our appearances to fit our personalities or create a whole new one. In SL modeling, there is a tendency to stick with a certain look so models can be more easily recognized, whether it be from a certain skin, hair and eye color combination or a certain fashion style that is more preferred.
But what if a model changes everything altogether from one ethnicity to another?
There is no denying it but there are still those in SL who are racist when it comes to comparing an avatar’s look to the real person behind them. Even in this day in age with SL being well past its 10th year, a sort of racial biased still exists amongst modeling. The idea that one cannot portray another ethnicity because they have never walked in their footsteps in the real world is utterly absurd when the person may in fact be trying their best to do just that in the virtual world. It is not the faddish thing to do at the time but a commitment to a culture.
Now, take in the idea of having more than one ethnic identity.
I will admit, I have been cautious when I first started venturing into using two different faces in fear that others would not accept the idea. Would I be called a traitor to my first identity as a Caucasian? Would real life Japanese people view me as a wannabe or even worse, shun my love for their culture as a fad? Would designers and agency managers see me as a liability? These questions and more have played my thoughts every time I used my second avatar, whom I had designed personally. With such versatility between two different looks, I am nowhere near from giving it up but I still feel cautious.
From a designer’s perspective, having a model that uses more than one look can be somewhat iffy for them. Which look will the model use? What if I prefer one over the other? Will they change their avatar at last minute without letting me see it first? To be fair, these are very valid questions that should be asked and answered before shows, events, photo shoots, etc. In my opinion, if a designer prefers one look over the other, then it should be used. The model sells the outfit and brand, not the other way around.
In most contests, there is an unwritten rule that you must stay with the same body style as you auditioned it to avoid confusion and to give the contest an overall fairness. This is most often used for skins specifically since hair colors and styles are more accepted as interchangeable. Over the years of Miss Virtual World, questions on whether the winner should be able to change a look during their reign have been brought up from something as simple as a skin update or whole shape change. In their defense, I would have to agree with change since there is always a constant need to better yourself, to grow and to adapt to the world, albeit a virtual one. As long as the person is still recognizable from their original form, then why not let them update things here and there after the contest is long over?