365 days of SL, day 95:
(Click for larger — 1920x1033 PNG, 2151 KiB)
Most of the people appearing in my screenshots use furry (or aeromorph) avatars; these are created (and sold1, typically) by other SL users and worn, unlike human avatars that have support for them built into the client. It allows for flexibility and creativity, but maybe some of those reading these entries – those that aren't on Second Life themselves – have been wondering what humans on SL actually look like.
So the above's an example of that.
As you can see, humans on SL are both pretty realistic and entirely unrealistic: realistic insofar as that the models are sufficiently detailed to not immediately stand out as obviously artificial polygon models; unrealistic insofar as that they represent an unearthly beauty ideal that is as flawless as it is unnatural.
Indeed, pretty much all the people you'll meet on SL will conform to the social beauty ideal that many are actively working to overcome these days: men are, almost without exception, broad-shouldered, sixpacked hunks of muscle, complete with beard-stubbly chins and soulful rebel eyes; women3, in contrast, are usually pouty-lipped, narrow-waisted dolls, and while not all of them have the facial proportions of a four-year old and the equivalent of two gallon jugs as breasts, most do conform to a less extreme version of that beauty ideal. You won't see a lot of tomboys on SL — or a lot of — well, whatever the male equivalent is ("effeminate" has far too many negative connotations, and "boytoy" doesn't quite mean the right thing, but I can't think of any other words).
My model from above is an example of this, too.
And don't get me wrong, I don't want to begrudge people their preferences, far from it; being a muscled hunk of man-meat is perfectly fine, as is being a sexy barbie doll. I think it's interesting to think about what it says about our societies' approach to beauty, though (purely descriptively, not prescriptively!).
And I'm also wondering if the Lindens couldn't make it easier for people to have (human) avatars that don't conform to these ideals. You can change a lot of parameters to adjust your shape, and you don't have to be long, tan and handsome, but it's the norm from which you then deviate. I still feel that SL presents a very literally unnatural image of human physiology.
Makes you glad to be furry, eh? :) I may have big tits and a very narrow waist, too, but otherwise I'm just a wolf. :)
Location: Sihasapa (161, 45, 21) (Pixies' Creative Learning Environment)
Sold since SL's primary purpose is to create a virtual economy based on virtual money (which usually2 has to be purchased with real money), guaranteeing an income for Linden Labs. It's understandable, but also deplorable; SL would have had a lot of potential as a virtual economy that's not based on artificial scarcity, and the Lindens could still have made money from things like land (sim) rentals, premium accounts etc., as they do now, but they decided to not do so.
There are, as far as I know, only two ways of obtaining new L$: buying them (the going rate is somewhat more than 4 USD per 1000 L$, and has been very stable for years), or receiving them as a weekly stipend for your account. Paid accounts receive 300 L$/week these days, which is less than what a paid account costs (although it has other benefits); older paid accounts receive 400 or even 500 L$/week. Free accounts receive nothing, although very old ones receive a grandfathered stipend of 50 L$/week.
Do keep in mind that this is the Internet, where (as they say) men are men, women are also men, and children are FBI agents. :P