Discrimination in Second Life Based on Avatar Appearance: Don’t Be a Meshist!


Don’t judge a book by its cover (Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash).

Is there discrimination in Second Life based on your avatar appearance? You bet. Last October an avatar was banned from a popular music club, seemingly solely based on his appearance.

Yesterday, somebody made a post to the official Second Life community forums bringing up the topic:

People asking for friend but only if you are mesh. This maybe not full racist to you, but just  sub the word mesh to an ethnicity or religion.

One person replied:

Well, mesh isn’t a race, but I understand where you’re going with it. Those people tend to state that they’ve put a lot into their avie and don’t want to look at a sub par one (in their opinion)…I usually just scroll on by if it’s just the mesh thing mentioned. I can’t get butthurt over every stupid thing people write. If someone is that picky about what sort of pixels they want to associate with, that’s on them. There’s too many real issues in the world to worry about, why create more?

And someone had the idea:

Let’s just call it meshism and meshists. It’s a brand new discrimination!

You might be surprised to know that there are actually some places in Second Life that explicitly ask their users to use a mesh avatar. For example, this note appears in the rules notecard of the popular FMD club, which describes itself on its Flickr group page as “Second Life’s sexiest club and lounge”:

No noobish looking avatars. It’s 2017. Get mesh. FMD Staff determines your appearance and if you feel we’re being too harsh, take it up with someone who gives a f***.

Now, I have been to FMD many times, and I don’t think I have ever encountered a classic SL system avatar there. Everybody has a mesh avatar head and body, and many obviously have spent a lot of time and money pulling together their look. I don’t really know if they do toss you out if you don’t have a mesh avatar, but it’s a bit intimidating.

And the thread in the community forums made me realize that perhaps I, too, am becoming a bit of a meshist. When I visit Frank’s Place, one of my favourite things to do is to right-click/inspect what the other avatars nearby are wearing. (That’s how I find some really great items to buy for myself.)

But I now notice that I am beginning to critique—in my head, not verbally—some rather dated-looking classic avatars. (“2007 called. They want their avatar back.”)

And it’s not fair. Many people who use Second Life can’t afford to shell out forty bucks to get a full-blown mesh avatar head and body, plus associated shoes, hair and clothes. Catwa Bento heads cost L$5,000 or US$20.00. The popular Maitreya Lara mesh body sets you back L$2,750, which works out to about US$11.00. (Honestly, Onyx LeShelle must be taking home money by the wheelbarrow from her Maitreya Lara mesh body sales! Maitreya must have seventy percent of the female mesh avatar body market. And as a result, everybody designs for them. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.)

Avatar fashions change over time. I still vividly remember the pre-mesh days, system clothing and flexiprim ballgowns. In fact, I sometimes pull them out and wear them to Frank’s. Stuff that Nicky Ree made a decade ago still holds up very well today:

Vanity Fair in Red Satin Shine Gown by Nicky Ree 5 Jan 2018_001.png

(All I did here was upgrade to a Bento mesh head—Catwa Kimberly, ka-ching! there’s twenty bucks right there!—and Bento Slink hands.)

What I’m saying here (and what I need to keep reminding myself, as well) is to try not to judge other people by the quality of their avatar. Don’t become a meshist!

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7 thoughts on “Discrimination in Second Life Based on Avatar Appearance: Don’t Be a Meshist!”

  1. We all have different ideas about who we are, and how we prefer to present ourselves and should never be judged on looks alone.

    It’s largely a matter of being ‘interested’ in your avatar, and actively seeking out items you personally find aesthetically pleasing within your particular price range – be they mesh or system.
    And it is very possible to find perfectly adequate mesh body parts without spending ridiculous amounts of money.
    Ocacin have several male and female Bento bodies and heads priced at $L250.
    The Akeruka brand has, several times, sold Bento heads for $L1 if you are in their Group – (group fee of $L150).
    Plus both Vista and Laq have recently released female heads that are massively discounted.
    And let’s not forget that there are many different mesh avatars – complete with clothing and accessories – to be found in the Library section of our Inventory.

    I think perhaps some of the ‘judgement’ lies more in the thought that if someone has put no care whatsoever into their appearance, they may well be inworld simply to have their ‘fun’ at the expense of others in the form of verbal and other griefing activities.
    For if you have spent nothing you are not afraid of losing your account if LL lifetime bans you.
    (I know for a fact this is the thinking behind a lot of music venue’s attitude to avatars who decide to take their system appearance to the extreme).

    There may well be discrimination regarding mesh body parts within Second Life – but there is also a massive undercurrent of inverted snobbism in there too regarding mesh items.

    But, at the end of the day, if people would concern themselves with their own life and allow others to get on with theirs we’d all be a lot more content.
    ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ is a very good rule of thumb to follow.

  2. Ryan, the biggest challenge that I faced in running clubs was getting people on board with the idea of matching/complimenting the environment. Most of my clubs have been period inspired, and mostly around electro swing culture that incorporates 1920s-50s. Guests were encouraged to show up in attire befitting a nightclub in any of those eras, and on themed party nights in a specific theme. Many years ago I noticed a shift in attire for women, towards showing as much mesh bod as possible. Dressing for cocktails meant barely covering their nipples and crotch it seemed. Formal clubs like Frank’s actually have it pretty good because it’s easy to grab a formal dress or tux. I have been called a meshist along with many other names. If this kind of discussion could include reasons why club owners or RP dms would want visitors to follow a dress code beyond just “look better, be sexier” like FMD, I think more people would understand. I’m not going to look down on an avatar in full flex hair, slider bod, and 2010 outfit if it’s appropriate– which as the owner/bouncer/hostess/dj I typically get to decide.

  3. I actually don’t see this as much in the furry community and no club that I work for would ever boot someone just for not having a mesh avi. We put a lot of work into creating our characters and getting them as close to our fursonas as possible, a lot of the time we have trouble finding mesh that fits with that character, though it is getting easier as time goes by. As a manager for one of the older furry clubs (DYC), I would never boot someone based on their looks, they have to actually be causing some form of issue within the club. We do have themed events but participation is not mandatory, we just want people to have fun and enjoy the tunes. Being meshist just sounds super shitty and booting people who want to enjoy an event at a club based on how much money they threw at their avi just shines a negative light on that club.

  4. In New Age and Eastern religions, the term mirroring is often used. In psychology, the word is projection or transference. They are referring to the nature of humans to see our behavior in others without realizing we are seeing ourselves.

    How does one tell another not to place their morals or opinions on another without first placing theirs on them?

  5. Superficial people playing Second Life do not realize that many players are disabled and of very limited income or means to provide for themselves. Superficial people are not worth any effort whatsoever.

  6. When you have a community where the only thing keeping things alive are sex sims,BDSM degeneracy and all educational/productive sims are empty what do you expect? Why do you think nobody messes with SL anymore? They are only sustaining themselves on loyal long time people who are willing to blow their disposable income on the game to partake in endless so-called “sexual orgies” and kinks with “beautiful” mesh bodies and heads. Newcomers leave as quickly as they signed up because of how garbage the community is,unfriendly,confusing,everything is expensive,hard to get lindens to look better.. It’s the worst community with the worst management you will ever find in a Massively Multiplaying Online Envrionment even IMVU has more class despite how inferior it is to SL. This is what happens when you get a group of braindead idiots thinking they are better than everybody else sitting on their computers in a basement,probably on welfare or in a wheelchair acting stupid because their “avatars” look like supermodels or its in a biker’s outfit. The social culture of SL is poison or non-existent and this is why they are the msot hated and mocked community on the internet. The trolls will always have something to be fed from the infantile behavior of so-called residents even the experienced ones. Linden Labs hasnt made anything better with their poor business and ethical decisions starting with their decision to merge Teen SL with the adult grid that was where all hell broke loose and down the line they removed the casinos and restricted it so much that all we have are these 1 hour linden minigames. Payment options are a joke. Even if i wanted to pay lindens to look like a drone like everybody else i cant because their payment options dont extend to third world countries so it’s an elitist game full of empty headed,pompous jackasses and the company’s business model reflects that perfectly so i cant even contribute to the robbery of their prices to do just about anything,even to upload a single image costs 10 Lindens and you wonder how there are not enough creators. This is why opensim exists to counter the ridiculous price to even own a parcel of land. lol even in a virtual world you can see the degeneracy and pathetic state of humanity. I am not attacking the handicapped or people who never had a chance to experience the things in SL they did not get to in the real world but we have a growing set of braindead adults acting like teenagers and an uncaring,greedy company that is making things worse and worse every year. SL is so terrible economy-wise it makes my country look good.

  7. I think, with all the comments and views, that people are missing the most basic aspect of this.

    “Modern” humans CAN NOT survive without drama or conflict.

    It’s not about avie quality or build, it’s not about weather you have the money or are poor, it’s not about what you can do with your skill level.

    It’s PURE unwarranted drama creating unnecessary conflict where there was none, plain and simple. It’s what humans do EVERYWHERE.

    Hell, we just got rid of a housemate that did EXACTLY that for his own entertainment, AND ADMITTED IT OPENLY!! 2 months of pure hell 24/7 for nothing more than the entertainment of a douchebag narcissist! I’m non-violent, but after him beating on my door for almost an hour, I called the cops and they said harassment was a civil matter. I had to resort to violence after the anxiety stress caused my heart arrhythmia to act up, so I cracked his ribs THROUGH my door! All because he expected people to apologize TO HIM because he was being a POS! Eventually we just started calling the cops anytime he came out of his room acting up, and the entire house was in unison that HE HAD TO GO!! He even went as far as bad mouthing the house and lying to the cops WHILE they were watching the camera footage!!!

    Everyone claims they want world peace, but can’t understand a concept as simple as “leave me alone”. And with 19% of the USA population being narcissists, and growing, peace will NEVER happen, even in your own home!!

    There is a lesson to be learned here though. ALLOWING this stuff to happen is WHY it happens. Be VERY careful what you tolerate, your teaching people how to treat you!

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