I’d rather go naked than…

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‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’, runs Peta’s tagline. As naturists, we’d agree on the basis of the normalisation of the nude form in society. As humanitarians, we’d agree that there is almost no reason to wear fur, ever. If you’re living in the wilds, in sub-zero temperatures for six months of the year, there’s probably some historical necessity for skinning an animal, but then, if that’s you or your society, the chances are that you’re using the animal’s meat as well for survival purposes. But that doesn’t apply to 99.999% of women (or men) today.

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I’ve noticed a little bit of a growing trend for ‘fur’ to be included as part of some outfits in Second Life. My goodness, but we even got suckered into that one ourselves on a post about ‘The Masked Ball’ in which our model wore ‘fur’ and I highlighted a fur stole available for little cost. I’ll hold my hand up here and say that I was guilty of a massive oversight in that regard, and wasn’t thinking about what we were promoting. I’ve seen four examples of outfits with fur included in the past couple of weeks. It was something that was previously almost unheard of in SL, and on the extremely rare occasions it was seen it was almost uniformly labelled as ‘fake fur’. The description ‘fake’ is now missing, and these articles are being presented merely as ‘fur’.

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Of course we can say ‘it’s only a game’, and quite obviously nothing has been harmed in the shuffling of a few pixels to create a Second Life fur stole or coat, and that’s correct but…but…but…

Second Life is extremely quick at picking up on real life trends. Ice Bucket challenge in real life? SL will have a pose for that in days. So a growing trend for fur in SL is disturbing in that it’s maybe reflecting real life couture and fur is making a comeback having been dismissed as part of a wardrobe for many years. I’m not certain as I don’t slavishly follow fashion.

Even if it’s not, the sudden appearance of fur in SL lends itself to a little bit of a normalisation of that – the message being delivered is ‘hey, pixel ladies, it’s now OK and cool to wear fur’. No, it’s not. It’s extremely uncool to have your avatar bedecked accordingly. I won’t remove our fashion faux-pas in the ‘Masked Ball’ post. I’ll let it stand as evidence of our error. But we won’t be promoting anything with fur in the future. We should be responsible for our actions in SL. This blog would never, for example, promote or photograph anything that illustrates the humiliation of (naked) women, and there’s a lot of that sort of thing (props, tattoo layers, ‘costumes’) going on in SL. Neither will we further promote or photograph anything that illustrates an animal killed purely for ‘fashion’.

SL does have a moral conscience. As a community we uniformly reject all manner of ‘age play’ on the grid, for example. Quite rightly. On moral grounds I think we also need to take an equally firm stand on fur, and make it clear to designers that we don’t want or need such items in SL, that we do (as we often do) link our avatar’s conscience to our own real life values. And those real life values, for me, are that the promotion of ‘fur’, even pixelated, even in a made up world, is wrong and is to be roundly rejected.

 

Trine

Mardi Gras is coming…

…on February 9th.

To New Orleans, to Rio, maybe to somewhere near you.

Thanks to Natalia, our Brazil correspondent, dressed in her Mardi Gras top hat and beads, for reminding us.

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I think we’ll try and bring you a flavour of Mardi Gras, and as part of our tour of the southern hemisphere, and the revealing outfits worn in Rio, here’s a flavour of previous years’ events.

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A reveler of the Grande Rio samba school performs during the first night of carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro on March 2, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

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We hope there are costumes like this in SL this year, and if there are, we’ll be doing what we can to bring you a flavour of them! Some of SL’s numerous Mardi Gras sims are either already online or making preparations to do so.

Abigail

All tied up

Alien Gizmo’s has a new free group gift for January.

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While it comes with a pair of jeans, I was attracted to the tied-up shirt half of it, something that would very much qualify as ‘naturist accessory’. Out of the sea (and I can see these words have been used before on SL Naturist), you do feel the breeze around your torso. I would certainly throw on a baggy T-shirt, perhaps the other half’s, and tie it up a bit. Your bottom half doesn’t feel the same chill for some reason, and that applies to males and females alike.

So…join te Alien Gizmo’s group and grab this for the naturist wardrobe (note, other free gifts are available, not not of any specific interest to naturists, I think).

 

Abigail

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