The Masked Ball

We’re very much in favour of nudity normalised at SL Naturist. While that could mean naturist locations, it could just as easily mean the ‘Top Free equality’ demonstrations in New York, for example.

One thing that we’d love to see, and attend, is a masked ball in Second Life, of the type often associated with Venice (Italy). As it’s due to take place in real life, soon, there’s a challenge to some of the ballrooms of SL. Not just a masked ball in period, Renaissance costume but maybe a nude, masked ball. How fun it might be to waltz around a ballroom floor, nude save for a mask and ornate jewellery? How photogenic might such an event be? 🙂 heresheis13-610x610

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The Fair Play fair is on right now, and it has a a mask of the type that might be worn at a masked ball (L$60) and a fur stole (L$70) amongst the numerous things on sale. Of course, these weren’t meant for use in a naturist or nude setting, but oh how well it looks, particularly when our model is framed in a SL Venetian backdrop!

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A search for ‘Venice Mask’ on the Marketplace also brings up over 300 items, in a variety of price ranges, from L$0 to over L$300, so we aren’t short of masks if someone organises that ball! 😉

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The Venetian mask is also something of a regular prop in glamour or artistic nude photography (as apparent from the examples on this page).

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Trine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Skins

I decided to make it my quest to locate good quality black skins (I’ll repeat the experiment for Asian skins in due course) with a maximum spend of L$300. I know that this might be beyond the pocket of some avatars as it is, but my reasoning was that 7 Deadly Skins, which offer a monthly free gift, have a maximum group join fee of L$300 for their group gifts, so in a sense it could be expected that white avatars would make that spend, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest this as an outlay for decent work.

In this research, I’m being joined by model Nadifa, who is African-American, and who is assisting in leading me through the pitfalls of buying.

‘The first thing you need to understand is that, by ‘black’, we can have many different skin tones, from the darkest skin through to lighter tones. I’m dark skinned myself, and so my avatar is reflective of this. However, due to the limitations of the viewer or monitor, the darkest skin tones sometimes don’t work, no matter how you might wish them to do so’.

Nadifa’s regular skin is by Izzie’s, a shop still operational in SL, and it was a hunt gift that she says ‘suited and never much saw need to change’.

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I’ve used the same photo twice. The top one is as it appears on-screen, so you can see what Nadifa means about it being ‘too dark’ for the SL viewer/monitor, and the lower one has been lightened a little in Picasa to draw out the detail.

Nice….but can we find Nadifa a skin she might admire and use daily, for less than L$300?

Have we hit pay dirt on our first step, Journee?

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Nadine thought so, particularly as our L$289 also provided her with an outfit (now shown), a necklace (shown), new flexi hair, and a new AO she got particular excited about, besides her enthusiasm for the skin. Her only gripe was that we couldn’t find demo versions of the skins in order to do a comparison with her existing skin. ‘I might have gone a shade lighter, more to cope with the SL viewer/monitor than to be a paler shade of black’, she said, ‘but all in all I’m very pleased with this skin. The hair and the AO are also an unexpected bonus!’.

We tried loads of stores thereafter, but the only one where we discovered anything worth picking up was at LAQ (see below), which is a free group gift in its darkest shade (LAQ appear to label them, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 etc…so this…4.0 or 4.5…is the darkest tone.

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Nadifa liked it even though it was lighter than she’s used to, or lighter than her actual skin tone ‘but looked well on the viewer. I’m still properly black, but not lost in the limitations of a monitor screen’.

Indeed, we tried demos in prices ranging from L$500 to L$1500, but Nadifa came back to the LAQ or Journee ones time and time again. ‘Journee is more realistic for me, LAQ maybe plays better on the screen’ was her conclusion. We pondered over one specific skin at L$600 for ages (I won’t mention the store’s name) and Nadifa said the nipples on it ‘looked more realistic than LAQ’s, from a personal perspective, but definitely not worth paying L$600 for’.

As things stood, then, she had spent less than L$300 to get a new skin, and decided that even though she loved the hair that came with the Journee set, she would like to look for hair ‘suitable for a black avatar…cornrows, braids or something. It’s not my personal style, again, but it’s something I’d like to explore just to give me a specific sort of look I could use from time to time’.

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One hair (discounted) at Emo:tions later… (see above) and Nadifa’s brand new look is complete. Almost…

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The addition of one of the classy, free outfits at Designer Showcase gives Nadifa a look she wants. Professional, businesslike. Which is a good point to end this post, before moving on to Asian skins and male skins, because as Nadifa says, ‘where you do encounter black, female avatars it’s often in the context of being a hooker or a stripper at a club or in some urban sim. Which is also the way the media portray us, as a cliche. The idea is to present black womanhood more as Michelle Obama than some two dollar ho’, I think’.

And that’s where I’m going to pick it up next time. Donning a LAQ skin for my Trine ‘alt’, I’d like to examine if SL’s portrayal of black women is that: a two dollar ho’. Do we stereotype avatars? Are black avatars (run be black or white people) liable to be operated as pimps or hookers? By extension, perhaps we need to also examine if anyone running an ‘Arabic’ avatar is likely to be equally portrayed as a terrorist. Lots to think about and research.

And, staying true to our core ideals, I want to examine why black and Asian naturists are so thin on the ground in real life and the societal issues that may influence that.

 

Trine

(we’ll be picking up on this mini-series towards or even over the weekend.)

 

Black (and Asian) Naturists, a mini-series, part 1: Fear of a whites-only grid

PART ONE: FEAR OF A WHITES ONLY GRID

Wow!

No longer had we posted our declaration to run a series on black and asian naturists, in and out of SL, than ‘the phone rang off the hook’, so to speak.

‘We do our share for black skins’, wail some skin designers.

‘You don’t understand the cost of producing a black skin’, cried another, attempting to justify the often exorbitant cost.

‘Hooray for you!’, wrote a black-skinned avatar whose thoughts mirrored my own.

‘At least you can find the occasional great looking black skin’, wrote someone else, ‘try finding a skin that really does looking Asian!’ (Far eastern or Indian sub-continent wasn’t specified)

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I’ve also had contact from SL users who do run a black avatar with a common refrain that it used to be easier to find good, affordable black skins but that task has become ever more difficult.

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That made me think of another recent bit of recent research I did for SL Naturist, and the shock discovery that the mosques and Muslim/Arabic culture that used to exist in SL, apparently, has all but vanished. Is it a case of SL’s cultural diversity diminishing so that SL becomes a wholly white experience? Are we in danger of creating a virtual apartheid?

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It’s clearly an issue that vexes, irritates and annoys many of you as much as it does me.

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As a result I’ve had to radically rethink this. What was just going to be 2-3 average/normal sized blog postings now needs radical reworking, and we also need to examine the availability of affordable black & Asian skins in SL as a sort of ‘cut out and keep guide, as well as perhaps also examining the social interface of black & Asian people using SL and their experience in bringing (or attempting to bring) that to SL.

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Clearly we pride ourselves on SL being a politics-free zone, and I imagine that utilising a black avatar isn’t going to be something that means encountering racism (although that can’t be ruled out: blog posts in humanitarian support of (Muslim) refugees have met with a some fairly nasty racist remarks in the past).

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Unpleasant, and barely understandable even in the real life terrorist-threatened world we inhabit where some elements of a free, western, democratic lifestyle are challenged, are under threat.

A glance at our reader statistics will show that readers arrive from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, mainland China, the Caribbean, north Africa, south Africa, Japan, Korea, south America, Iraq, Pakistan, India, etc. While we can assume that some white, western people are operating SL avatars in these locations, it can’t account for them all. So who, as skin designers, hair designers, clothes designers, are serving people of oriental, Asian or ‘black’ (which covers a wide range of skin tones in itself) appearance?

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I intend to find out just what the state of play is with black and Asian avatars, and along the way examine why there’s a deficit of black and Asian people participating in naturism in real life.

 

Trine

 

 

 

Pregnancy progresses

Former editor Ella is pregnant in real life, and I asked her if she might contribute an update on how things are going. I think that there are many out there who will know Ella well, better than I do, and might be interested to learn how things are right now.

Trine

Just heading into month seven, and my goodness but how I’ve felt older, heavier, less shapely than I did with my previous two pregnancies! Add to that tiredness and a bladder the size of a pea, and you’ll have some indication that I’m not feeling or looking my best 🙂

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I duck in and out of Second Life from time to time, but I don’t have much time right now (a key reason why I quit the editorship of SLN). I’ve not previously considered much in the way of pregnancy as an SL concept, and I’ve not given it much thought now. I did look at pregnancy shapes, but they’re too expensive, in my opinion, for what they are, and so I’ve simply tweaked my usual shape to reflect a huuuuuggggggeeeee!!!!!! tummy.

One of the plus sides of pregnancy (at least in Second Life) is the addition of a Mommy Motion AO I picked up for free on the grid (it appears to be L$99 or more on the Marketplace), which is letting me pat my tummy, a lot, not unlike RL, and has also given me a waddling walk, not unlike RL! 🙂

It’s something I’d recommend for all SL mums-to-be.

I don’t anticipate me getting much SL time before the birth, and probably less afterwards, but I’ll do what I can to keep you informed that the birth has occurred, and pray for a peaceful baby that might permit the occasional foray back online from time to time.

However, all in all I can report that baby (no, I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl), is well, and it’s mother is frumpy, grumpy and tired 🙂

Ella

 

 

 

Black (and Asian) Naturists

We’re preparing a mini series on ‘black naturism’ for SL Naturist. It seems to us that those who might wish to maintain a black avatar are discriminated against in Second Life, given the disparity in costs between good white skins and good black skins. Typically, you can get excellent white skins free, or have regular group gifts delivered for a one-off group join fee. For those wishing to maintain a black avatar, the cost of a good skin, no chance of a free or group gifted one, the costs appear to be somewhere between L$700 and L$2000!!!!!

In a virtual space where we preach equality, something is deeply wrong here!

Not only are black avatars discriminated against, so too are Asians, either oriental or from the Indian sub-continent. As there are several new global economies emerging in the real world, including Brazil, India and China, we feel it’s time that SL did something to close the disparity of costs in skins, hairstyles and even clothing, to allow an enriching diversity to emerge on the grid.

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Multi culturalism enriches all of us, wherever we live in the world. So why does SL often appear so unremittingly white? Often because of the apparent disparity in skin costs to begin with.

We’d like to change this, and we’d like to see SL reflect the diversity of colour in the real world, and allow people of whatever ethnicity to reflect their ethnicity affordably.

If you are a black or Asian avatar, please write to me (you can IM me at Trine9045) and outline your experiences, your difficulties (or ease) in obtaining a skin, hair or ethnic clothing you like and would like to see promoted by us. I have a list of stores where ethnic clothing is available, which I’ll be highlighting in subsequent postings, as well as…I hate to describe it thus…ethnic hairstyles (on the basis that today, regardless of skin pigmentation, many people experiment with hairstyles historically held as ‘white’ or ‘black’). In the first instance, though, the issue is skins, the basis for identifying our avatar as we would wish, from whatever ethnicity. Good skins, bad skins, cheap skins, quality skins, rip-off skins…please, let me know!

I’ll also be trying to identify the reasons why naturism appears to be such an overwhelming ‘white’ experience out in the real world too.

Our ‘Ethnic Season’, of sorts, will commence in February and continue throughout the month as we attempt to unravel reasons why those of black or Asian origins appear to have such a hard time in establishing an avatar that reflects the real them!

Trine

 

Photogenic

There are an increasing number of beautifully photogenic sims (not naturist) emerging. I’m not sure, but it seems to me that ‘the recession’, the global downturn in the economy which hit all of us, and Second Life, a few years ago is beginning to recede, with people now feeling they have the disposable income to invest in SL.

I can only go by hearsay, as this recession pre-dates my SL time, I think, but it would appear that in talking to others there used to be greater diversity of sims, with many existing for the pure pleasure of their creator building them. There was no real emphasis on making money from them.

That continued right through ‘the recession’, but it was just there were less around apparently.

I’ve noticed lately that more and more sims with ‘no real purpose’ have begin to emerge and you’ll find many listed on the map page of SL.

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I’ve blurred the ones listed, so no accusations of favouring a particular sim can be made!

We do try to provide a flavour of naturism in Second Life through photography, of course, without myself or Abi being particularly great photographers. While some of SL’s naturist sims look wonderful, endless photos of palm trees and sandy beaches can look the same after a while, so it’s often good for us to get out to other photogenic sims to do photos beside buildings or a different aspect of nature.

Of course, a rather odd mindset sometimes exists in respect of nudity. You would have imagined that a Second Life would have led to a radical rethink of social attitudes, but no. Many people bring their first life mindset into Second Life with them, and define their SL according too their RL attitudes and thinking without pausing for a bit of a rethink. So a fear of nudity, their gymnosophia, accompanies them into SL.

While I work on the basis that it’s their sim, and their rules apply, I also work on the basis that I’m not complying with their stupid rules, particularly if no one is around. It’s like the old Zen question, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?’ If I’m naked on your sim and there’s no one around but me, have I broken your rules?

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A rocky shoreline! A rarity in SL, it puts a whole different spin on SL beach topography

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Hills backing the shoreline, again, something rare in SL. I’m not climbing up, though. Those mountain goats look as if they’d defend their territory

Before I continue I’d like to say that the photos above were taken at The Keys sim. However, this is not to suggest that what I’ve said above -the rejection of nudity in some sims- is part of The Keys policy whatsoever. It’s an ‘adult’ designated sim, which means I always presume nudity is acceptable. I certainly didn’t witness any signs that outlawed it.

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Thus I felt it was ‘fair game’ to do some nude photos, as well as more general photogenic shots of the sim, which looks wonderful. Moving forward, I expect this to be something of an SL Naturist theme for me at least, as I try to bring you images of photogenic sims with naturist potential.

Abigail

 

 

 

 

 

Deux Chevaux

The Citroen 2CV (shorthand for ‘deux chevaux’ or ‘two horse(power)’ is an iconic French car.

Citroen vehicles are, in some sense, a European naturist’s car of choice (although the VW camper van would run it close). Why? The 2CV is a fun car at a time when cars aren’t much fun. Well appointed, computerised, liable to expensively break down computerised sophistication. The 2CV harks back to a time when a coat hanger and some tape might fix most faults, if you know what I mean. That concept has been readily replicated in Cuba with old Buicks and Pontiacs being fixed up, fixed up and fixed up some more in the absence of spare parts.

The 2CV is no longer in production, but has an enthusiastic fan base, not least France’s 2CV naturist car club.

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That’s right. There’s enough naturists in France with equal interest in 2CVs that they can combine their interests.

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Citroen also appears to loom large in SL Naturist’s psyche, with us covering their H-van previously, and now the 2CV.

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Given the apparent interest in the vehicle by naturists and photographers, maybe it’s not such a weird thing.

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You can now own your own 2CV in Second Life. Paris Metro has an offer on right now, join their group (L$0) and grab a 2CV of your own! Several of us have already got our own fun, French, chic car with the intention of doing a larger post in the future featuring it and naturism, as the two seem to be joined together in some way.

Feel free to grab your own car and send us your 2CV/naturist photos!

Trine

 

 

Can you have too many shoes?/Nacktwandern

Can you have too many shoes? asks Fab Free, who are currently rounding up the free footwear in Second Life and pointing you in its direction.

No. You can’t. There’s always room for more shoes, hair, lingerie, skins and…naturist accessory.

I’ve been out and about Imelda Marcos-ing, courtesy of Fab Free’s ongoing mini-series of footwear offers, and picked out a few items that could be part of your beachwear.

Thanks to Fab Free’s link, I touched down at Gabriel where there’s a number of shoes they’ve blogged as free group gifts (L$0 join fee). And here’s where the fun begins!

I got shoes, certainly, and there’s several types for males & females alike, but they aren’t particularly ‘naturist’ orientated.

What I did get, and which does fit our ‘naturist accessory’ wardrobe, is their ‘bum bag‘ or ‘fanny pack‘, as it’s sometimes described. Ideal for loose change to buy the ice creams and keep your car keys in.

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I’ve also picked up some stout walking boots, from Oddity, which look great too. While intended for male avatars, they also look great on girls. What Fab Free didn’t blog, as they’re focusing on footwear, were some additional items that set me off down a particular naturist oriented theme : naked hiking.

The gloves and sunglasses (below) were part of the freebies at Oddity, as well as the boots, so I headed off to some SL mountains for a bit of naked hiking.

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Naked hiking, or Nacktwandern, is popular in central Europe, around the Alps, apparently. Perhaps not in the weather I’ve chosen to do it in! 🙂

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While SL isn’t too well served by forest or mountains, I’ve made it my next project to see if we can assemble a small group of naked hikers in SL and embark on our own naked hike somewhere. I’ll get back to you on this in a day or two 🙂

Abigail

Tracey Ullman

The British comedienne -well known on both sides of the Atlantic, returned to British TV screens this week with one sketch (I’ve no idea if it’s going to be a recurring joke or not) featuring ‘topless feminist MP Sally Preston’.

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Those aren’t real boobs, by the way, but a rubber body suit. It’s interesting, nonetheless, that Ullman should choose to pick up on an equality campaign that we on SL Naturist have long supported. It will be interesting to see, if it is a recurring joke in the series, just how the media responds to it, and whether it’s being played for cheap laughs or has some bite in its support for top free equality. Watch this space, as they say.

Trine

SL Naturist’s very own puppy (An SL replicates RL posting)

One of the things you witness, if you’re up early enough in the morning on summer holidays, is that locals walk their dogs on the beach, be it in a textile or naturist location.

In France, in Spain and in Croatia, my usual naturist summer destinations, this is a fact of life.

On naturist beaches, the dog-walker may also be nude. It’s just part of the routine. Equally, as the sun is rising and a slight breeze may be blowing, it can feel just a little chilly on the beach, so the dog walker, male or female, has maybe thrown on a T shirt of some description. I’m often surprised how often that seems to be a ‘uniform’ of sorts, one of those loose, cool, linen shirts that form part of many people’s wardrobe for summer.

We’ve bought our very own puppy, a beagle called ‘Fang’ (because ‘Fang’ isn’t a very beagle-y name) and so I decided to walk him on the beach, replicating a familiar scene from holidays (naturist or textile).

You can see, day one, that a breeze was blowing, so I decided to wear a full shirt and trousers ensemble I bought on the Marketplace (L$250). Yes, it’s the mens version, because I wanted it specifically to have a billowy, loose look.

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Fang looks like a little rascal, doesn’t he? 🙂

By the second day’s walk, it felt warm enough just to throw on the shirt and dispense with the pants, reprising a familiar naturist beach morning.

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Fang came from Miki’s Pet Shop, and comes with his own kennel, food bowl, ball to play with and a little tree to have a pee against 🙂 The best L$450 ever spent in Second Life!

 

On morning three I felt more energetic, and decided to have a jog, another familiar look from the early morning beach, before it gets too hot to jog or run.

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My male friend decided to accompany me, and so we adopted the familiar jogging outfits of naturist destinations. For a male, that comprises of trainers (and optional socks), whereas female joggers very often put on a sports bra to stop that painful boob bounce that occurs when jogging. Both of our outfits came from Plausible Body. The shoes are designed with female avatars in mind, so my companion’s trainers look a little on the small size, but there’s lots of trainers available for male avatars around the grid.

Abigail.