Monday, May 25, 2015

Talking Heads

Edit: I borked this post last night... so here's a follow-up.

In the last couple of weeks, there has been a flurry of blog posts regarding mesh heads, in particular the Lelutka mesh heads.

There's been lots of talk about how you really can make them unique by playing with your head shape (the only thing you can really change) and different skins, makeups, etc. It's also lead to some very interesting talk about how important (or not important) it is to look unique in SL.

This is a divisive issue, y'all!

On one side you have the mesh head advocates. Their arguments are that it looks better in photography, it's customizable enough to be able to make it your own, there are tons of appliers, etc., etc.

On the other side are the mesh head naysayers. Their argument is that it makes everyone look the same, in spite of the options, and we all have to be special snowflakes and create our own individual look.

Mostly I'm of the opinion that, hey, if you love it and it makes you happy, go for it.

And as far as me personally... no.

It's a super-cool idea, right? I mean, we have mesh everything else so why not heads, too? And there is no disputing the fact that it photographs quite well.

I ran out and picked up a few demos a couple of days ago to make sure that my opinion on them was accurate (for me).

Here's my normal face:
It's far from perfect. It's got some weird sharp angles and stuff... but I also think it has some personality. My freckles, my eye wrinkles, my little smile. My awkward gap on my neck (c'mon, Belliza... get your shit together). Imperfect and all me.

And here's me in one of the demos:
How vacant I look!

There isn't one iota of emotion there. How very blah it is. It's pretty, yes... in the way a statue is pretty. But I wouldn't think the brain behind that face had anything inside it, other than sadness. Doesn't she look unhappy?

It might be okay for (some) photos but I can't fathom why anyone would want to look so... lifeless. 

Again, it isn't for me to understand. If it makes you happy, good on ya. I mostly respect your choice. Mostly. 

Because wearing one of these 24/7 in SL tells me you're more concerned about (perceived) beauty than substance. I say "perceived" because... well, I don't think this head contains any true beauty. Beauty comes from within. It's a twinkle, or a glow, or... hell, just some emotion of some sort. 

I'm sure I'm ruffling some feathers here by insinuating that mesh head wearers aren't beautiful. The thing is, I know quite a few of these women and they ARE beautiful. Beautiful and unique and it shines through (on appearance alone) the choices they've made when customizing their SL faces. 

Wearing this mask over that just seems... disingenuine. It's a way of hiding who you are (visually speaking only, of course). 

I would love to see the mesh head creators like Lelutka do custom orders. I would probably pay through the teeth in order to have a mesh head created just for me that looks like me. I know there is at least one creator doing just that... the problem is that there are no (or few) appliers for it. I don't think. I really haven't done enough research on that to know for sure, but when you're getting bombarded with ads for appliers for Lelutka and nothing else one assumes that the appliers are there for the other heads. Maybe TMP but fuck that whole ridiculous mess of a shopping experience.

Or if mesh heads were rigged with all the slider options available when editing your shape. This might be impossible... I don't know. I have no idea what goes into the creation of these items. I'm just a consumer. 

Until something like that hits the market, I won't be wearing a mesh head. I am a special snowflake, damn it, and I'm proud of it. No, I'm not going to run around screaming about how unique and random I am. But I like being me, and looking like me. Some people have similar shapes and facial features... but I've yet to see anyone who looks just like me. 

I guess it really all just boils down to preference and what you feel comfortable wearing. 

I'm about to impulse-buy some mesh ears, though. Mandala, why u no have demo?!


  1. I'm curious about a couple of things that you mention. I find interesting that they're unrelated to the heads in a direct manner :-)

    One is this: "Because wearing one of these 24/7 in SL tells me you're more concerned about (perceived) beauty than substance."

    I'm not sure if this is true. You explain, I say "perceived" because... well, I don't think this head contains any true beauty. Beauty comes from within. It's a twinkle, or a glow, or... hell, just some emotion of some sort.

    I find your comment interesting, because it's not that the default avatar allows for much dynamic expression either. It allows for more, that's true, but not that much. The majority of the emotion I remember from my SL-experiences comes from the words that were said around.

    Just in case, I'd like to say that I'm not offended at all by your view (offense is always taken, and I don't think for a moment that you had any other intention than to clarify how you feel about). It just has made me think, because I haven't read anybody else mentioning that (yet).

    Maybe even more interesting, to me, is when you say this:

    "Wearing this mask over that just seems... disingenuine. It's a way of hiding who you are (visually speaking only, of course)."

    Auryn Beorn is a mask over the real person under it. I think I behave like I am, but I don't show who I am, if that makes sense. Auryn Beorn shows an expression that I've chosen, partly to make people believe I'm happier than I really am, so I'm not bothered with questions. In a way, that's already a mask over who I really am. Am I deceiving? Probably. Is this deceiving necessarily a bad thing? Not to me, because it protects me.

    Then, the comment also made me smile because, as a side note, I've been a masks wearer in SL for more than a year, while I was teaching. I was "the masked teacher". And yes, I was hiding things too. The mask was once again to protect me.

    I don't think that many women wearing these heads have actually thought "I'm wearing this to hide who I am", but I find interesting that you consider it that way. Masks over masks (over more masks?)

    I'll be certainly having this in my head, making me think about :-)

    1. Perhaps I was a little harsh with the "beauty over substance" comment. That seems to have gotten under quite a few peoples, er... skin! You're right- the default avi doesn't allow for much dynamic expression (at least, not without making an avi look goofy as hell) but it does allow for some.

      I guess to me, wearing a mesh head is sort of like women who won't leave the house or let anyone see them without full makeup on, or models with that very blank expression on their faces walking the runway. It doesn't tell me a thing, from first glance, about *who* they are.

      As an introvert, I typically "study" people before I approach anyone... in RL and SL. The mesh head prevents me from seeing behind the mesh head.This is selfish on my part, yes... I want to see what people do to their faces so I can know something about them!

      "Disingenuine" was probably a poor choice of words, too (it was late and I wasn't thinking much when I was writing... just typing!). Trying to think now about how to phrase that better without offending even more people!

      The mesh heads are generic looking, to me. Skins, appliers, etc. don't change that fact that it's still the same face on everyone who is wearing that particular one. Some people feel quite strongly that they're able to tweak things enough to make their mesh head look unique, but I've not seen that. The face is still the same. The mouth is still the same. The eyes are still the same. The nose is still the same. And with the rise in popularity of them, I'm seeing my Flickr feed become a stream of the same faces. I keep seeing listings on the Marketplace and thinking "Oh, such-and-such did some modeling!" and then realize it's just someone else wearing the same mesh head. Is that a big deal? No, of course not.

      And again, if people are happy and comfortable with that, it's okay. It's their choice and I'm thrilled they have that choice available in SL. I personally don't like it. I'm positive there are plenty of people who don't like my look, and that's okay, too.

      And absolutely the majority of emotion in SL comes from words. That's what truly sets everyone apart in all the ways that really matter.

      I guess it's silly that I feel so strongly about mesh heads on avatars in a virtual world... lol. But wouldn't it be a bit creepy in the real world if everyone started getting plastic surgery to look just like everyone else?!

    2. I know you will be closing this in a few hours (to be reopened at some other point?) I couldn't leave an answer before, sorry.

      I wanted to thank you for the clarifications. I think I begin having a clearer idea in my mind of what causes the strong "no no no" feeling in some people.

      Take care :-)

  2. First of all: just buy the Mandala ears! I've been wearing them for years (as you know I wear the elf ones) and they are great quality, easy to tint to your skin and easy to fit - the hud is also super and gives lots of options (well at least my version of ears, I have the pack with human, pixie and elf ears in one HUD). You will love them!

    Second...the mesh head.
    I am, I guess, in between the two sides you mention. I love both the mesh head AND my old face.
    Not sure if I should feel offended by this bold statement as you wrote:
    'Because wearing one of these 24/7 in SL tells me you're more concerned about (perceived) beauty than substance. I say "perceived" because... well, I don't think this head contains any true beauty. Beauty comes from within. It's a twinkle, or a glow, or... hell, just some emotion of some sort. '

    Really... I've never considered myself that shallow, but I will admit I do like my avatar to look pretty and I do find the mesh head beautiful.

    I've gotten lots of comments on my choice to wear a mesh head, half of them lovely and kind and the other half of them not being positive and some of them right nasty even (in IM's mostly, funny how that works).
    I do take things personal, it is how I am, so I must say the negativity and nastiness is somewhat taking the fun away from experimenting.

    1. Caity, I think you are one of the most delightful, funny, passionate, wonderful *real* people in Second Life. And you are certainly more than your mesh head. You are so intelligent and thoughtful and insightful and full of vibrant life. You make me giggle, you make me think and you are so truly kind in everything you do.

      I miss your face. It's really as simple as that.

      I'm sorry that some have been negative and nasty to you... I do hope you don't think that I was trying to do the same. I clearly bumbled my words and should have edited more, but I tend to just let the words spill out. I just miss seeing your face in your photos.

      I don't think for one second that you're shallow. Hell, I know you aren't. We all like to look pretty in SL and there isn't a thing wrong with that. And there is also nothing wrong with experimenting! The ability to do that is part of the beauty of Second Life.

      When I made the comment about beauty over substance, I really should have said "on first impression". If I knew nothing else about a person wearing a mesh head, that would be my first impression and I know that isn't accurate because I know quite a few women wearing them and know it simply isn't true. My first impression would be completely wrong.

      I think I sound like a crotchety old woman who is resistant to change. Maybe I am. Your mesh head *is* beautiful. And you're having fun with it. And THAT is what matters. People are going to have different opinions, and isn't that wonderful? It's painful when people are asshats about their opinions and believe theirs is the only one that matters. I hope mine didn't come across that way, though it appears that it did.

      I was just throwing my two cents into the wide discussion about the mesh heads. I knew that posting my opinion would offend some people but I have the same right as everyone else to post my thoughts.

      You are beautiful, Caity, inside and out and I'm truly sorry if I hurt you with my post but I do stand by my opinions on the generic-ness of the mesh heads.

      Oh, and I bought the ears. I got the same ones you have. It was so late that I didn't spend much time tweaking them last night... will try again today! I couldn't get them tinted just right but I also didn't spend a lot of time trying before I crashed!

  3. "Because wearing one of these 24/7 in SL tells me you're more concerned about (perceived) beauty than substance."

    I find it perplexing that have been able to link superficiality with a person’s choice to wear a mesh head.

    I have never heard, and would be surprised to ever hear, that one’s choice to wear a mesh head over a system head would be correlated with superficiality or a concern with beauty over substance. Of course, if you had some evidence beyond your opinion to suggest that mesh head wearers are more superficial than non-mesh head wearers, I’d be really interested in hearing about it.

    When I read that from a personal perspective, I am hearing you say that you think that because I wear a mesh head 24/7 (which I have done so for over 2 years straight) means that I am more concerned with beauty over substance. I am only speaking for myself, when I tell you that I am concerned about many things of substance, beauty being one. Anyone taking more than a minute or two to assess my interests by looking at my profile, talking to me, reading my blog, pretty much any interaction beyond determining whether I wore a mesh head or not, would more than likely come to that realisation on their own.

    "Wearing this mask over that just seems... disingenuine. It's a way of hiding who you are (visually speaking only, of course)."

    I find this assertion baseless. I really can’t imagine that people that wear mesh heads are trying to hide who they are more than anyone else that is not wearing mesh heads. Similarly, I would be surprised to hear that people who didn’t wear mesh heads were more forthright, honest, or genuine about who they are with others they meet.

    I wonder what could ever give rise to such an idea? Again, I’d be very interested to know where you are coming from with that.

  4. Becky, I don't need to find evidence to support my opinion. My opinion is just that- mine. I don't need scientific support to back something that I feel. I'm not concerned about correlation. I've been happy to read other's thoughts on their blogs about how they fall on the mesh head decision, and respect their opinions as being their own.

    My opinion is different, clearly, from yours. I'm not going to conduct a survey to see if others agree with me or not because it doesn't matter if they do or not. To wear, or not wear, a mesh head is a personal choice for each individual. And every individual is permitted an opinion on the matter and they don't need validation from anyone else as to whether it's okay for them to have their opinion, whatever it is.

    I will say that my word choice was poor when throwing around things like "disingenuine". I really should have clarified that I meant on first impression, without knowing a single thing about a person (or avatar) beforehand. Of course I know that you are far more than your mesh head choice.

    I do find it curious that everyone seems to have focused in on those two particular comments and nothing else that was written, such as "Mostly I'm of the opinion that, hey, if you love it and it makes you happy, go for it."

    I don't like mesh heads. I form first impressions when I see someone wearing one- or wearing bling, or wearing fangs, or wearing gigantic breasts (or penises for that matter). Or wearing beautiful hair, or a gorgeous dress, or a beautiful mesh body. Often that first impression is wrong, as first impressions based on the visual aspect alone usually are. as we are all complex and confounding human beings that cannot be defined on looks alone.

    As I said to Auryn above, though... wouldn't you find it creepy if people all over the world started having plastic surgery in order to make their faces identical? To me, that is sort of what is happening with the proliferation of mesh heads. To me, it's different with the mesh bodies... below the neck, it's just arms and legs and stuff. Again, that's only my opinion and I've certainly seen other people who are vehemently anti-mesh body (or mesh anything) for the same reasons I am about the heads.

    It's fun to see how others tweak their faces. In RL and in SL, that's why portraits are so fascinating. Faces are... incredible. Every line, every wrinkle, every mole or freckle. It's fun to study the individual parts that make up the whole of a person's face. The lack of symmetry, the flaws and imperfections and scars and stories reflected in every face are unique. Even in identical twins, if you look hard enough, there are always subtle differences even if only because of the way a person has lived and how it's reflected in their face.

    And again, it's only my opinion.


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