I’ve recently adopted an inworld hairstyle that’s reminiscent of a Sia Furler wig. Although it’s a bit of a departure from my normal SL look – if indeed I have a ‘normal’ look – I really like it and, judging by the comments of others, it suits me. It is, however, not something I’d put up with in RL. Having to deal with having my hair constantly in my face is not something I tolerate well, and any style that intentionally does so is a definite non-starter; even on other people – I can’t help but get irritated when in the company of someone who has to constantly flick and handle their hair to remove the constant facial obstruction that such styles cause.
Not that such things matter in SL – we can wander around with our head in a burlap sack if we wish, without the slightest detriment to our vision, such is the beauty of viewing the world from a third person perspective. It’s great that we’re not constrained by the same restrictions the real world imposes once we’ve logged in, allowing us to explore unknown territory and personal styles that would either be impractical or simply not suitable in a real world setting.
Many of us have jobs or responsibilities that prevent us from stepping outside a fairly narrow remit when it comes to our appearance. Perhaps we’re unable to sport long hair, or exotic makeup, nail polish, bright colours or are confined to wearing a uniform during our daily life, and unless we’re heading out to enjoy ourselves afterwards, it can be a real drag to make the effort outside work… Nobody wants to dress up for an evening of cooking and washing-up, or vegging out in front of the TV. So the chance to go for broke in SL is one that most of us jump at.
And we don’t hold back either! Many of us will possess not only far more virtual clothes than real ones, but they’ll often be a whole lot more adventurous than those we tend to wear in RL. There are, of course, a number of reasons for this – we can have the ‘perfect’ body inworld, and that will undoubtedly influence the way we dress; without any real world constraints dictating how we should look and what we should wear, we can really express our character and personality through our appearance; and virtual wearables can be a whole lot easier to manage than wild and wacky can be in RL.
It’s not just clothing – my own personal fetish for different and occasionally crazy virtual hairstyles is a case in point, then there’s make-up, footwear and a mass of accessories that we might not even consider in the real world, but may go so far as even defining our own personality, once we’ve logged in. The fact that our inworld look may be a complete departure from RL is no surprise – how many of us have an avatar with bodies and features that accurately portray our real world selves? There’s no rule that says we have to, and equally, there’s no requirement for us to conform to reality in the way we choose to dress and present ourselves. And why on earth should we?
If you ask me, there are far too many rules and regulations, conditions and conventions that govern our lives, and we also, to some extent, moderate the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world around us, so it’s only right that maybe we should feel free to express ourselves in any way we fancy when in SL, even if that means playing entirely out of character and breaking our own RL rules to do so.
Surely that’s the whole point of rules anyway… To be broken?
Why should I care
If I have to cut my hair?
I’ve got to move with the fashion
Or be outcast
The Who – Cut My Hair