The BP portrait prize, 2012

I don’t know much about art, unless you categorise photography and what it attempts to achieve as art, but I picked up on this story from the BBC yesterday. American painter Aleah Chapin has scooped a substantial prize for her portrait, entitled ‘Auntie’, apparently of a family friend.

I think it’s marvellous, and shows that beauty isn’t confined to youth. As usual, I tried to replicate it in SL. Probably less successful than previous recreations of RL art that I’ve done, but it’s a picture I will try to re-do at some point in the future, closer to the pose and background.

Harry

Interesting…because ‘older avatars’ are a topic discussed, probably as the ‘keynote’ piece, in Issue 4 of the magazine. And I’m in a position to tell you that it will be published tomorow, Thursday. 🙂

Ella.

 

 

Issue 4 : Older avatars

by guest writers Maura Daines and ‘Pops’

Pops makes his point

There’s no doubt that there’s something Peter Pan or Dorian Grey about SL. We need never grow up, never grow old. There’s an emphasis on youth in SL, regardless of how old we are in RL. Despite this, some of us like to sport avatars that accurately reflect our age. I’m naturally attracted (not necessarily in a physical sense) to fellow older avatars, mainly because they’re likely to have the same interests or cultural touchstones as myself. We should be honest here; I can’t really identify with the outside, RL interests of a 20 year old guy, while I’ll possibly enjoy the same music, the same wines, read the same books, been touched by the same movies, had the same RL experiences (in terms of marriage/divorce/parenthood/mortgages/illness(!)) as someone my own age. It makes for easier conversation. And I’d say that when it comes to forming a physical relationship (in cyber terms) guys of a certain age may well be able to apply their RL knowledge of women to their text, making for a quite possibly deeper sense of mental connection than some young guy who lacks that experience. I dunno, what do you think, ladies? (or guys for that matter).

I’ve certainly been naturist in SL, but it’s almost secondary. I’m not a RL naturist, although as I get older it is one of those ‘things to do’ that rises higher on my list with each passing summer. I’ve just fallen into it in SL by accident, but the great thing is that through SL I’ve come to know a lot about it, and also done some external research as a result of that.

So, I don’t necessarily pose here in a sense of ‘attractive older woman’, which in its own way brings its own headaches in terms of younger guys certainly wanting some sense of ‘milf hunting’, which isn’t my thing. Instead, I’m posing, and posing nude (as well as clothed, is that a first for SLN?) (I think it is: Ellaas -hopefully- an example of avatars not necessarily needing to be youthful.

Of course, that presents its own difficulties when assembling an older avatar. For one thing, grey hair just looks ‘unrezzed’, so care is needed in determining what style to wear. And long hair isn’t really an older woman thing. We tend to wear shorter hairstyles as we age, so that too is a challenge. Body shape? An 18 inch waist will look deformed. The reality is our hips have filled out, our tummies will have sagged with middle age spread and muscular weakening through age and childbirth. Our breasts will definitely have succumbed to gravity. So these things all need to be considered when assembling an older avatar. Clothes too. Certain dresses won’t look right on an older avatar. Thankfully there’s enough choice to build an older avatar’s wardrobe, but it’s a thing that needs some proper thought put in. Women of a certain age need to choose a skin carefully. I find a lighter one gives shadow, and increases the look of age to some degree. It’s also important to tweak the jowls and things like that in order to make an accurate older avatar. However, for me, the effort has been worth it, as I feel I’ve ended up with an avatar that is a more accurate reflection of the RL me! For those of you who wish to consider ‘older’ avatars, I suggest you begin at the Uncommon shop or First Lady. Atea, where I began my ‘mature’ SL, is still available, and Elegant Mature, new to me, also offers much older avatars skins. I wear a ‘middle aged’ look, reflecting my RL, but Elegant Mature offers a more ‘elderly’ range.

Maura

This article has been in the planning for months, and so Harry has had a brief to take pictures of older avatars where and when he could. Of course, not all are naturist, and some declined the opportunity to pose nude. Some loved the idea. Below, we present a small gallery of older avatars that we’ve managed to snap. Ella.

An anonymous mature avatar poses for usThe same lady, looking beautiful by Sweden’s sunbathing lake.
Polish avatar Bozena gives her name, but says ‘Nie, dziękuję’ to appearing nude.

Self confessed ‘old hippy’ Jack says he’s ‘not so much a naturist, as someone plugging into the free love 60s. Festivals had a lot of nudity back then, and they were fun times. So my avatar is me as I am, still sticking to those peace and love principles. I’m not really a naturist I suppose, but I’d certainly be relaxed about being nude in some sort of commune, if such a thing existed in SL’

nb: There is, Jack! It’s called Commune Utopia, and it’s a free love sort of place that may include some (or lots of) nudity. It’s not strictly speaking a naturist place, although it’s certainly naturist friendly, but as such I won’t provide a slurl to it. But it’s readily available on ‘search’ : Ella

Older and black. Avatar Kandye wears a ‘first lady’ skin, as referenced in Maura’s piece (above).

The same skin appears to be available for white avatars in their store.


Why did I opt for an older avatar? It’s who I am. And it’s also something different in a world of pneumatically breasted women and men sporting genitals like donkeys. I feel comfortable in the skin I’m in. If there’s anything I don’t like, it’s that I’m too muscular. Sure, I work out in RL to stay supple and I’m not overweight, but I’m just not that toned. The shape’s pretty good, I think, but the muscle tone’s too much. While I like the hair, to the point that it’s a pretty good reflection of me too, I’d prefer it a bit whiter, and my pubic hair a bit greyer, hahaha.

Am I naturist? Yes. Where I live there’s not much opportunity for it in a social context, but I’m certainly a backyard naturist, have gone skinny dipping int the past, and would have no shame or embarrassment in stripping off on a nude beach if the opportunity arose. I’m happy with my body, and I don’t really feel any need to be judged on how I look by anyone else. I also think that I wear a mindset that matches my age (mid 50s) so like Maura, I’ve got certain cultural reference points that would sit uneasily with a younger avatar. A 20 year old avatar talking about seeing the Stones at their peak would be silly. There’d be little giveaways I think, so I keep my avatar older, knowing that my conversation will match the things I’m discussing. I don’t really care for current music much, and I see movies as re-writes of things I saw 30 years or more back. They’ve not been improved by re-writing, so I don’t go to see them. In that respect I’m disconnected from popular culture, and me dancing to techno in SL would be ludicrous.

While SL may be about reinvention and maybe having the RL you never had in RL, there’s a line. There is for me anyway. I think, even before joining, that I understood the role I wished to play, right down to the name I chose.

Pops