Second Life: A Dream World?

February 17, 2009 § 3 Comments

For a research project for my Seminar class, I had to create a Second Life account. For those of you unfamiliar with Second Life, it’s a virtual world in which users’ avatars can fly, ski, dance, ride dinosaurs, etc. Second Life’s motto is “Your World. Your Imagination.” 

The first thing you do when creating a Second Life account is pick an avatar. There are about 12 initial avatars from which to pick, 6 women and 6 men. There are no transavatars, and all of the female avatars have that Barbie-esque hourglass figure that all us chicks are JUST DYING to have. You can edit the skin color, hair style, weight, height, etc. of you avatar, but only once you have arrived in your Community. Personally, I couldn’t even figure out how to do it once I arrived at my Australian beachside Community. But that’s just me. 

And so right away I was skeptical. Yeah you can change your appearance, but the website basically assumes that the ‘norm’ for female avatars will be the tiny waste/huge boobs look. 

My skepticism concerning Second Life only grew. As I wandered around the Australian island that I selected as my Community, I saw literally hundreds of virtual billboards. Because my project is largely about advertising in Second Life, I paused to look at them all. I was horrified to find that every single one featured a scantily-clad hourglassy woman.

I guess I’m just disappointed. Second Life bills itself as a utopian fantasy land where you can choose your looks, friends, setting, and everything else. But I would rather see equality than ride a unicorn.

BREAKING NEWS: [Insert starlet's name here] has gained some weight!

February 6, 2009 § 6 Comments

If you haven’t been living in a cave for the last few weeks, I’m sure you’ve heard the news: Jessica Simpson has GAINED WEIGHT.

Am I the only one sick of seeing photos of her everywhere I go? Whether it’s an image splashed across the cover of People Magazine or linked to from one of the blogs I read or even on some pop-culture television show, I always end up getting frustrated by the obsession with women’s weight gain patterns that the media (hell, society!) tends to have. 

And it’s not just this one isolated case. From Kirstie Alley to Janet Jackson to Oprah, people just can’t seem to stop analyzing their weights. It’s also not just in cases of extreme weight gain either. How many false pregnancy accusations have there been? Often headlines have read, “JENNIFER ANNISTON PREGNANT?” or “KATIE HOLMES LOOKS PREGNANT.” A woman in our pop culture isn’t allowed to put on any weight without suddenly being knocked up. What’s even worse is the photos that have been put out in the past of celebrities”pigging out.” Oh ha ha! A famous woman indulging in a cheeseburger! What a fatty! Look how gross she looks!

These types of images (with big arrows pointing to “baby bumps,” ones showing how an actress has clearly “let herself go,”  and depicting women “stuffing their faces”) express to the public how far from the norm an overweight woman is supposed to be. You better keep that tummy tucked, or you’ll be the laughingstock of everyone you know! 

While this phenomenon isn’t only directed at women, it seems much more traditional to critique a woman’s weight than a man’s. How often have you seen images of male celebrities with captions about how clearly they need to get back on their exercise regime? 

Just think about the incredibly unrealistic standards women are held up to when Angelina Jolie isn’t allowed to eat a fucking sandwich.

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