It makes me feel special

As everybody already knows, mesh is out. Say hi to mesh. Hi, mesh. Mesh is both great and terribly frustrating: if it fits you, it’s the best damn thing ever. If it doesn’t fit you, it’s awkward and strange. For those of us who’ve spent years fine-tuning our shapes, and who feel like our shapes are really part of our online selves, it’s very hard to suddenly wear clothes that force us into another shape, another body. That body may be extremely curvy, or it may be not curvy enough, or it may have all the curves in the wrong places.

Additionally, and more troublingly, mesh opens up a very significant can of worms that Second Life had never really opened before: that of body image. SL always allowed us to create, within certain limitations, the body that we wanted. We could be slender, youthful, and girlish. We could be stacked, sexy, sensual. We could be wiry, androgynous, angular. We could be voluptuous, curvy, womanly. Men, too: from skinny youths to muscular manly-men to pot-bellied bears, SL allows an amazing range of shapes…and that’s just the humans.

Yeah, this is not news…but here’s the mesh problem: so many of us have struggled for years in real life with our body images, for whatever reason. So many of us dread the chore of going shopping for clothes and wading through options that don’t fit, or hang funny, or gap in places they shouldn’t gap. We hate it because society makes clothes for an ideal shape which is not our own. We hate it because it reminds us that our bodies are not easily mutable, and we cannot change the things about us that feel, for whatever reason, alien.

Second Life gave us bodies that we can make our own: that we can make the way we want. Second Life gave us clothes that, more or less, would just fit those bodies. Eventually, it gave us sculpts, and sculpts took a whole lot of pushing and prodding before they’d just fit, but hey, eventually most of those are more or less one size fits all. Now it has given us mesh, and without some extensive upgrading, mesh simply is not one size fits all. Mesh yanks us back into that real-world body-image morass of sizes that don’t fit, that hang funny, and that gap in places they shouldn’t gap. Mesh forces us to fit into ideal shapes which are not our own; shapes that are alien.

Mesh has a long way to go before it’s really going to be mainstream, I think. For now…try demos, and see if you like the shape the garment creates on you.

I really did mean to mention, in amongst the ranting, that Wicked Closet has just put out a v. awesome mesh set for men and butch women. YEAH I SAID THAT. That tie is mesh, you guys (as are the jeans). I purposefully did not edit the tie in my photos, so you can see that my belly still clips into it a little — a downfall of mesh. Also, you cannot adjust where the tie sits on your neck, which looks pretty awkward on me. BUT LET ME TELL YOU: a tie that actually bends when I bend rather than getting swallowed by my torso? Awesome. Worth it.

Hair: Shag — Dogs of Lust by Sebastian Aries
Shirt: pivaaca — Border Tank by Trish Blanco
Shirt (around waist): Coco — Shirt tied around waist by cocoro Lemon
Jeans: Wicked Closet — Dark Slim jeans by Wicked Resistance
Tie: Wicked Closet — Alton tie by Wicked Resistance
Hat: Wicked Closet — SkaterBoi Flat Cap by Wicked Resistance
Shoes: FIR & MNA — The Solas Shoes by Rob1977 Moonites
Socks: Pig by Apatia Hammerer
Cuff: Kari — Key Cuff by Menno Ophelia
Tattoo: Garden of Ku by danel Kurosawa
Poses: momomuller by momomura Zehetbauer


About Vaki

Seriously, Mega Shark v. Giant Octopus is a masterpiece of modern cinema. What? It has Deborah Gibson in it. And there's this one scene where...what? Oh, like there's something better than a mega shark leaping out of the ocean and biting a plane in half. Whatever.
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14 Responses to It makes me feel special

  1. Don Mill says:

    While I agree in concept, I would like to point out that is not the technology that should adapt alone, but also the creators should get more comfortable with it.

    We are in the infancy of mesh and what can be achieved by it, and the few pieces that we see now, are those made by pioneers. They will get better, much better with time.

    • Vaki says:

      That’s a very good point, Don. It’s a new shiny, and we’re only just now seeing what it can do. I’ll be interested in seeing where it goes — maybe we’ll start seeing maybe not full-mesh outfits, but mesh pieces integrated into system clothes, much like sculpties have been. Who knows where it’ll go!

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  4. This is an important point, but I think you are being a little too generous to sculpt components – and for that matter just plain prims. Many of these have been incredibly restrictive, and required significant tweaking to body form in order to have them fit at all. I have never bought them apart from (a) shoes, obviously, and only mod ones (b) enormous skirts or (c) small aspects that can be easily resized and repositioned, like tails, epaulettes, brooches, and so on.

    There is a _very_ clear message that accompanies any fashion item that requires one to change one’s shape.

    • Vaki says:

      Oh, certainly fair enough — and with my very boyish shape, believe me, I know (and I simply cringe at the thought of what it must be like to size things for a plump shape in SL, just trying to size it with the very small belly I have!). You are absolutely right: there is always pressure to conform, and the purveyors of fashion certainly don’t make it easy to reject the norm, not even in SL.

      However, I have found that if a sculpted item is modify and I am patient enough, it usually can be done by editing each prim — see some of my posts about Defectiva’s armor, for example. I spent over an hour, prim by prim, adjusting and resizing to get armor made for a muscular man to work on my shape. It wasn’t perfect (many of the sculpts simply wouldn’t go any smaller), but it worked.

      Mesh, on the other hand, doesn’t even give us that option. We can’t tell the norm where to stuff it; we must either conform to the shape the designer offers or forego the latest fashion development. I bought a very sharp mesh suit from TenFifteen, for instance…and I can’t wear it at all unless I want my head sticking out of a man’s body. There is no room at all to modify the clothes to you, whereas while sculpts were never perfect, they at least gave the option of adjustment.

  5. Oh yes – mesh is certainly worse on that score. Not only does mesh encourage larger-scale outfits than previously (so mandating large changes to body form) but the ones that are there appear not to be movable at all, unlike sculpt and prim attachments.

    I bought the tie mentioned in your post above to see – it is a nice tie, but it floats about an inch above my torso, and if I try to move or resize it, nothing happens. It is even hard to click on it and (try to) edit in the first place.

    Maybe we should just be purchasing whole designer-approved avatars generally. I’d rather not gain a foot in height and four cup sizes, personally.

    • Vaki says:

      Yeah, I mentioned the tie thing in my post — you can’t adjust where the tie sits on your neck. It does the same thing on me: it just sort of hovers halfway up my neck. I suspect the designer had a shorter neck than I do. If I wear the tie as it was intended — with the shirt the tie comes with — the tie fits the shirt perfectly. However, the shirt just doesn’t work with my shape, so I didn’t.

      I think mesh has a long way to go. Right now, it’s going to be best with flowy, shapeless garments rather than body-skimming pieces — check out the work that Squinternet Larnia of Donna Flora is doing, for instance.

      And we’ll see. While I do think that mesh is in its infancy and has a way to go before it really hits its stride, it’s a shame that it went live with such major flaws. I hate to see so many people soured on it before it’s really found its niche.

  6. Filicia says:

    Mesh is a standard tool that has long since seen its life-span outside Second-Life.

    To compare real-life bodies to digitized members is quiet silly. Especially if mesh models end up being horses or chickens. Mesh is new right now in Second-Life, so it’s going to have glitches/gimmicks. As more professional use of mesh occurs, the better options will there be for users to choose.

    Getting involved in Second-Life to the point that your comparing your living, breathing irreplaceable self, to a temporary avatar made of imagination ,graphic glitches and pixels is only showing signs that perhaps addiction is too strong in Second-Life, and is deserving of a real-life vacation/break.

    • Vaki says:

      Oh, I know what mesh is, but thanks for the information. As a point of clarification, what I am discussing here is the Second Life implementation of mesh, not mesh as a technology. Obviously, other systems have implemented mesh differently, and I’m not discussing those implementations, because that would be irrelevant.

      I believe your comment is unjustly critical, and extrapolates egregiously from my post; however, if my post was somehow unclear, I’ll try to clarify. Many people enjoy Second Life because they can create an avatar that looks like their real self. Alternately, many people enjoy Second Life because they can create an avatar that looks the way they would like their real self to look. Certainly, some simply enjoy fantasy avatars, but even people who create avatars who look absolutely nothing like reality are still justifiably invested in what those avatars look like: they have invested time and often money in personalizing those avatars. Moreover, some people are in Second Life for professional reasons, and have professional justifications for wanting their avatars to reasonably represent their real selves.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with some sort of addiction, or with being unable to separate fantasy from reality, and has a great deal to do with the myriad reasons for wanting to personalize one’s avatar. Right now, in Second Life, mesh is limited in that it reduces the ability to personalize one’s avatar.

      I hope that explains my point a bit better.

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  8. beccapet says:

    You make some very relevant points.

    One of the biggest benefits of Second Life is you can be who you want to be. You (or, rather, your avatar) can be exactly as you want it – it’s the overriding expression of your individuality and what makes Second Life so wonderful. But if Mesh clothing is going to force us all to resize our avatar to the clothing, rather than the clothing to the avatar, then this is a bad thing.

    • Vaki says:

      Exactly. We’re starting to see some mesh designers get this, though, and adapt their mesh styles and designs to the limitations of mesh (see my post featuring 4mc’s brilliant bulky mesh jacket, for instance, or the wide range of mesh shoes and boots, or the great mesh corsets coming out from places like Schadenfreude).

      I really hope LL gets it together and fixes this major flaw in the mesh implementation soon. Until then, though, it’s really up to us as consumers to not buy mesh garments that alter our shapes too drastically, and up to us as designers to construct intelligently.

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