Mera seems surprised at her reaction to her new look. While I was among the most startled by her new look, which appears to almost completely eschew the color for which she is best known, her reaction got me thinking: How much of our Second Life’s identity is defined by our appearance?
This isn’t the first time this topic has come up; Tateru actually wrote about this last month. In her posting, she mainly dealt with the way people expose aspects of themself through their choice of appearance in SL. There’s a flip side to this, of course; how does our appearance influence other people’s perceptions of us…particularly when some aspect of that appearance becomes iconic of us?
Iconic appearances are certainly common among SL personalities. Of course, everybody knows the first example to cite: Torley. Torley is actually a unique case, because she changes her appearance so frequently. (Of course, this can also be interpreted as bringing out other members of the “Council of Torleys” to play in SL…which leads me to wonder if there is not in fact an eternal Torley-spirit, which chose to give its name to the young man who became the Torley we all know and love. Kind of like Pater Pan describing how “the spirit of the name chose me” in his name tale, in Norman Spinrad’s Child of Fortune. But I digress.) One constant is always present, though…the colors of the watermelon, bright pink and green. Anywhere I see those colors juxtaposed, I suspect Torley’s influence…and without them, Torley would not be, well, Torley.
There are other good examples too…Tateru’s Victorian-Gothic attire, Travis Lambert’s “Brian from Family Guy” avatar, Akela‘s white wolf, Dolmere‘s skeleton, Aimee Weber’s butterfly wings…the list goes on. And, for Mera, the iconic aspect of her appearance is…the purple. She herself has encouraged it…witness her blog tagline, her group title, her “typing” animation override. For her to turn around and seemingly abandon it…well, it just breaks our metaphors. Looking at Mera and not seeing purple has, in effect, changed her identity in our minds.
By the way, Mera, that’s the answer to your question about “why didn’t anyone notice my lack of glasses?”: When you change something as fundamental as the purple is for you, all other changes become trivial by comparison, and easy to miss. Besides, glasses, or lack thereof, are easy to miss anyway. I wear them myself on occasion–I was wearing them when I spoke at Chris’ memorial service, as the photograph will attest–and I don’t think anyone really notices one way or the other. (I wear them to give myself a slightly older and more distinguished appearance on occasion…they make me look more like my father, I think. In RL, I only wear glasses when I don’t have my contacts in.)
Do I have any iconic appearance qualities? Probably just my own face; I set it up to resemble my RL face, and haven’t changed it since Day One. (I adjusted my height…but that’s not the same thing.) There is my “Default Erbo” outfit, but I don’t always wear it…and Danielle would probably prefer I wear it as little as possible. Sometimes, too, I switch out the Bent for the Superman pendant that was a gift from Danielle, or I wear that pendant with other outfits as appropriate.
What would have to change about us before we’d no longer be recognizable as us? That’s a good question to keep in mind…especially in SL, where we can all look like anything imaginable.