Estimated reading time: 2 minutes —
Kat just wrote a great post about body identity and stereotypes amongst avatars in SL. It’s funny. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. My work is all about body image, self esteem and how the media unconsciously manipulates us into thinking we want to be thin and model beautiful so we may be more desirable for someone else.
I am doing a performance art piece on Saturday night using SL and I was just writing my artist statement. I thought about sharing it, but decided I better not. Now I have to…LOL
Now this is a very rough draft. Likely to change…
My life as an avatar
My performance, part of the “Second Skin” one night happening is a commentary on fantasy. If you could have a second chance, live a second life, create a second self, what would you look like? Who would you be?
I am not comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to find out what it would feel like to be thin, beautiful, desired. I wanted to find out what it would feel like to be able to wear any clothes, dance all night, talk to any guy without fear of rejection because of how I look. I wanted to escape the suffocating world of judgment and criticism due to my size. I wanted to escape the superficial world of the media’s distortion of beauty. So I created an avatar in the 3D online virtual world of Second Life.
This is the story of Gracie Kendal. Gracie has it all; she is a beautiful, thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed woman. She has a plethora of amazing friends; she lives in a beautiful lake-front home with three dogs and has her own loft studio. Gracie is a well-known, successful artist exhibiting in dozens of solo and group shows. She has been written about in numerous magazines and art journals, has been interviewed on television and she has been listed as one of the 10 most influential artists.
Gracie’s life began almost 6 years ago. She is an avatar. She is my avatar. Her life involves living in the virtual world of Second Life, walking around in a pixilated body and communicating through text. She is my self-portrait, my alter ego, my inner conscience. She is a character in my life story that revolves around the loss of identity, self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Using Gracie as a form of self-presentation, I started to explore my relationship with my body as well as question my own identity. I realized that everything going on in my life was manifesting in my body and in the figure of Gracie. Both were becoming a site for anxiety, fear, stress, grief, loneliness and depression. My body and that of my avatar became a source of autobiographical material in which a story was being written.
So as I have been writing this, I am conflicted. What does it REALLY mean that my avatar is one of those who fits into the stereotype I am fighting against. Yes I want to see how the “others” live. Yes I have found I feel more desirable and attractive and beautiful as Gracie. Yes I like being Gracie and can’t change her as much as I have thought about it. So how in the world do I live with myself while playing both sides???
btw… Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel 😀
I will leave you with the video I did for my Masters Thesis…