Being in Shape


Celebrities are often famous for some specially distinguishing feature they might have. These might just be things they always wear; the colour of their hair; some words they’re associated with (“I have a bad feeling about this” and “I’ll be back”, for instance 🙂 ). The distinguishing feature can be material (i.e. things), related to their appearance, or immaterial, like words they say, attitudes they have, or even states of mind they possess (like always smiling!). Celebrities might age, change with fashion, become more mature in the type of things they do, but it’s not unusual for them to stick to their hallmarks.

But you can go beyond that and see the same thing in common people as well! You might always remember an old aunt by the perfume she wore when you were a baby; a certain hairstyle that you associate to a friend; a colour that someone will always wear on their outfits, a special tattoo… something usually small that creates a distinguishing feature of that person. Very often the person is not even aware of that; in most cases, however, they tie their personality to that “small thing”, and they make sure that they exhibit it where appropriately. Now we shouldn’t read too much into this. Some psychologists might try to elaborate on how our drive to “stand out of the crowd” makes us adopt a certain behaviour — which, as said, can be a thing or something more immaterial that we cling to — and, in a sense, it reinforces our “sense of self” that way. It might be something subconscious that we simply adopt to “feel” unique.

Now this might have either a very shallow or a very, very deep explanation. On the “shallow” side of things, it might just be a materialistic trend (buying something nice that you show off to friends to impress them). It might just be peer pressure (wearing something just because everyone else does). You can also imagine reasons like social constraints (say, an accessory that is gender-specific and that you’re supposed to use no matter what; but you can personalise it to your satisfaction) or showing your membership in a group (like wearing the colour of your favourite soccer club). But on a deeper level we start to enter the realm of grasping one’s identity: you feel, deep down there, that there is little (or even nothing, if you go deep enough 🙂 ) that truly makes you an individual person.

While on a daily base this might not be so apparent, it’s on Second Life that this aspect can truly shine. Some residents are known for the uniqueness of their avatars. This can be shown in several ways that are not possible in real life: from robot to animal avatars, to unnatural skin colours (blue being a favourite one!), specific accessories, and, of course, fantasy styles of clothing. Yours truly always uses a flower in her hair 😉 These aspects of uniqueness are not surprising: avatars, except when viewed very closely, are smallish and have little resolution. Big distinguishing features are good for im