No sooner had I posted some of the Naturist Etiquette series which is ongoing than my friend Ophidia IM’ed me, to take me to task regarding what she saw as a major omission. The larger sized naturist (whether in SL or RL). And she’s right. I’d not mentioned it mainly because the ‘plus sized’ avatar is almost invisible in SL. Yeah, we’ve been lulled into a sense of the (virtual) world being for a certain body type, the eternally young and beautiful. Just as the media fixates on the beautiful people of the world (beauty being in the eye of the beholder…I would have no aspirations to look like some of the things offered up as role models).
So I asked Ophidia if she’d give a perspective on being ‘plus sized’ in Second Life (and real life ™ ).
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to do this in the same ‘cartoon’ format as the rest of the series due to time restrictions right now (yeah, I’ve been working on the remainder of the series for a number of weeks) but hopefully Ophidia’s words (and photos) will help to offer some balance to my glaring omission.
‘I admit it. I’m ‘bigger-boned’. I’m ‘plus size’. I’m, if you’re going to be judgemental and cruel about it, ‘fat’.
Actually, I’m not fat. There’s barely an ounce of blubber on me but I am, without doubt, not a size 6 dress size in or out of Second Life. In fact, in Second Life I’m so ‘plus sized’ that XL mesh doesn’t fit! (Designers…can we have XXL in mesh, please?) Of course…in Second Life I could slim down in the stroke of an appearance slider, but why should I? My avatar reflects the real life me, bigger than thin, and -yes, it’s true, the stereotypes do fit to a large extent- with an accompanying big, fun, friendly personality. Yes, in real life I’m the life and soul of any party (maybe I’d have been like this as a Size 6 anyway, who knows?) and, because it’s me at the keyboard, guiding my SL me, I’m like that in SL too.
I’m a naturist in real life too.
Do you know, it’s basically only in a real life naturist environment where I find people judge me for me, not on body shape or size. People accept me for who I am, not how well or poorly I’m performing on the media’s body-shame units of measurement. In a clothed environment I could probably hear snide or cruel comments if I chose to listen. ‘Oh poor her! They’ll never have that in her size’. In naturism, the real life variety, I’ll usually hear comments like ‘Here comes x (You didn’t think I was called Ophidia in real life, did you?)! Let the fun begin!’ or similar.
I think the message has to be that naturism will never judge on body size. Contrary to media myth, we weren’t all intended to be the same size. In naturism you will be judged, certainly, but on the basis that you’re interesting, intelligent, a great conversationalist, a fun person…all the things that should define us but never do because of perceptions. ‘Clothes maketh the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society’, wrote Mark Twain. How wrong he was, although I’ll forgive him for working/writing (largely) in an era that pre-dates the social naturist movement. In naturism, I am freed to be myself. I am freed to be judged on what there is beyond the pre-conceptions clothes create.
None of us are perfect. Not even super-models, as Elle McPherson once acknowledged, confessing to be self-critical of her own appearance. My message to you, if you do have body issues or concerns, particularly in terms of seeing yourself as ‘bigger boned’ or ‘plus sized’ or ‘fat’ is to embrace naturism. It’s only there that you will be judged on who you are, not how you look. But if you’re a boring b******, personality wise, there’s not much I can do to advise you, I’m afraid’.
Words in italics by Ophidia.
Remainder of text: Pookes.
(Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll return to our ‘Naturist Etiquette’ series, and find out how our naturist newbies get on).