Archive for Shoes

Digital foot-binding

Posted in Second Life with tags , , , , on August 12, 2008 by Bola C. King-Rushing

It’s a strange confluence of circumstances. On the one hand is the way content creation – and, in particular, content permission – works in SL. Designers often don’t want customers to have modify permission on their work, because then the customers can, well, modify their work. It also makes them more vulnerable to forgery and cheap knock-offs. On the other hand is the tradition (habit? trend?) of making shoes that are designed to fit the “size 0” avatar foot.

The result is, as everyone who’s into these things knows, the size zero shoe. You purchase a pair of shoes, and they look fabulous, and they’re designed for size 0 feet, so you adjust your Foot Size slider to 0 so they’ll look right. And, in theory, there’s nothing wrong with that – to a point.

In fact, though, it’s systemic. It’s institutionalized. It’s become accepted practice. And there is something seriously wrong with that.

How is this different from virtual foot-binding? Avatars are being asked to change their bodies in order to fit social norms or fashions. No, they’re not even being asked. In some cases, they’re being politely reminded, but often the bodily deformation is simply taken for granted. And, as we know, it’s not just shoes. There exists a whole host of clothing items that are designed only for avatars that are designed within a relatively narrow (both literally and figuratively) size spectrum. And, I recently learned, the same goes for poses and animations.

Now, this isn’t the case for all designers. When it comes to shoes in particular (but also for other size-sensitive items), there are a handful of creators who for their own reasons give us mod perms. Some of those who don’t will still sell their shoes in two sizes (such as 0 and 10, or 0 and 30), which is at least a little accommodating. And there are starting to be designers who cater specifically to “plus-sized” or otherwise non-standard (as if!) avatars.

But in a world that prides itself on diversity, where even a basic avatar can have any of dozens of attributes sized from 0 to 100 (you should hit the Random button sometime and see what happens), this strikes me as simply insensitive. It’s no different from FL’s neurotic and neurosis-producing insistence that beauty and taste are a single vision that must be administered in a top-down manner. We know better than that, don’t we? How is it that this kind of thinking found its way into our virtual world?

And worse, how is it that we as residents put up with it?

Song of the moment: "Put Your Top Down," Tré Little

OMG Shoes!

Posted in Second Life with tags , , on July 14, 2008 by Bola C. King-Rushing

Okay, so I’ve decided on an answer my own question: it’s not shallow if you feel it deeply.

I have recently visited SL’s First Annual Shoe Expo (going on through July 27 at the four Rezzable sims: Create, Design, Discover, and Explore). Twice in two days, actually. (No pics just yet, because the place is always crowded and the snapshot feature wants to crash my client.)

So here’s the thing: being at the Expo feels (and I mean in an emotional way) for me a lot like being in an Apple store. Or one of those exotic, import-only auto dealerships. I knew (and those who know me have seen it) that SL has awakened my inner fashion force, but the shoe expo experience was something else altogether.

I’m normally pretty tight-fisted in SL, as I don’t want to turn my time-eating habit into a money-eating habit. Plus you really can dress extremely well on a micro-budget, although it helps if you develop some basic building skills. But on my second visit to the Expo, while waiting for about 2 minutes for some friends to meet me, I saw, coveted, and acquired a L$500 pair of boots.

It was a visceral thing. I just had to have them.

They matched the outfit I was wearing at the moment rather perfectly, enhancing the overall effect I was going for (I will be taking pics of them when I have a moment), so that helped. But I found myself, heart pounding, making an impulse buy that was totally uncharacteristic.

Walking around with my friends / shopping buddies, I later spent another few hundred L$ on further footwear. I had just that morning been reading in the Mermaid Diaries a tutorial on making your own shoes, and was (and am) pretty excited about trying that out. But I couldn’t resist some of these shoes. Hell, I didn’t want to.

If you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada (and if you haven’t, you should), you know the scene in which Miranda (Meryl Streep’s character) berates the new assistant for snickering at an agonizing belt choice and talks about the true place of fashion in the real world. That scene gave me a new respect for fashion. And I took it to heart in SL, as witnessed by my overburdened inventory that is mostly wardrobe. But I now really understand the passion, as it were, for fashion. It’s real love.

And thus I have no guilt over my purchases. But if you suffer from that irrational ailment, your conscience can be assuaged by knowing that significant portions of the Expo’s sales are going to the ASPCA. Unless you’re like me, as I eat enough meat that the ASPCA might not even take my money. But as I said, I have no guilt.

And did I mention that the Expo covers four sims? I haven’t yet been completely through even one of them. I’ll be going back real soon.

Song of the Moment: "Belle," Paige O'Hara and Cast (from Disney's Beauty and the Beast)