You would think that in Second Life- where you’re allowed to look like and be whatever you want- there will be actual freedom in terms of appearance. Not so. Especially if you’re interacting with other people, who impose offline values.
We had not met for a long time and I wouldn’t have recognized him if it hadn’t been for his name floating over his head. He looked completely different. Like a stranger. Not only had his hairstyle changed, but he was leaner– without any muscles– and there was something different about his face, though I couldn’t make out what. He was now wearing round nerdy glasses and formal clothes. I was used to seeing him in jeans and a white T-shirt. His dirty blond hair was dyed black. It was like seeing a different man.
“You look very… Japanese,” I said.
“I changed my look. I was tired of looking plain… uneasy?”
“Just unfamiliar. I guess you do look a lot younger.”
“But I really liked the old man you used to be. It’s sad that he’s gone. I don’t like this whole young boy look.”
“Well most girls dig it.”
“I think I’d feel weird getting a total makeover,” I said.
“That’s your problem. Men are butterflies and bees and women are flowers. If you want to attract men, you have to be a flower.”
“So what are the flowers supposed to do?” I asked.
“Men keep on looking for new women, like bees want to keep looking for new flowers. Since there are no ethical constraints in Second Life, it’s easier to find a new flower.”
“That’s why looks are so important. You have to fulfill the visual desire of men.”
“Does that mean that if I change my look often in order to stay with the same man for a long time?”
“Women think they dress up or wear makeup to look how they want, but in the end, they are following what men want. So if you want to fulfill the desires of men, you have to become sexier.”
“You need to make some visible changes. In hairstyle, or makeup… For instance, you never change your hairstyle,” he pointed out.
“I thought men liked women with straight hair.”
“In general, yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a twist now and then.”
“So you’re saying I should change my looks often?”
“Well if you’re so intent on looks, why do play with me instead of M?” I asked. M was a tall, model-like girl who was never seen wearing the same outfit twice.
“It’s not always all about looks,” he said. “She swears too much and I can’t stand having a conversation with her, but you’re polite and listen to what I say.”
So that was what I was. The polite, submissive, colorless flower. Maybe it was time for a makeover.