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 fuck.

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!


One thought 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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s