Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
There's a wide range of avatar enhancements that have been embraced (more or less) by fashionistas and SL photographers alike for the extra dose of realism they can add to a shot, but there's one popular augmentation that plenty of us have turned our noses up at: Prim breasts.
There's an assumption in SL that if you have any kind of breast enhancement, it's for the sake of pixel sex or fetishism. There's nothing wrong with either of those things necessarily, but they're often used as an excuse to push everything associated with them into a dark little corner of shame... Even the products we may actually like. Many of us, especially those with more voluptuous avatars, are unhappy with the shape of the default avatar's breasts-- I've regularly worn and written about replacement feet, hands, heads, bodies, and even eyelids over the years, and I've even mentioned how I often use the liquify tool in Photoshop on my avatar's breasts to make the shape a little less polygonal and a little more natural. If I'm willing to wear mesh hands to spare myself the editing time, why not prim breasts too?
Taking all this into account, I thought it was about time I take a look at what attachable "implants" can bring to the table for even a prudish fashionista/photographer like myself. Keep reading for a fair, even-handed, and NSFW look at these prim puppies!
Tangos are the latest mesh breasts from Sandi Moonites of Lolas [SLurl], one of the top names in Second Life silicone. They come with a quite few options right out of the box including some basic clothing layers, but what makes them so versatile are the appliers sold by other stores so their clothes and skins can be worn seamlessly over top. Pink Fuel [SLurl] [SL Marketplace], one of my favorite skin brands in SL, recently released their Tango appliers and naturally they were my first choice. This applier replaces the default Tango chest texture with one that matches their recent Kumi skin line, as well as offering several different nipple colours (for the true connoisseur). A skin applier isn't mandatory, but it keeps seams between your avatar and your enhancements to a minimum, and saves you from having to match your skin tone exactly with the HUD. Frankly I wish prim hands and feet had appliers too.
Texturing aside, Tangos have a much more flattering silhouette than the default SL breasts. Though personally I prefer a slightly smaller and more supported chest, there's a naturalness to the Tangos that I can also really appreciate-- they look like they have weight, not like they're just two masses stuffed against your ribcage.
As with almost anything in SL, the trick is in how you wear them. I really like the look of them scaled down because my avatar is usually much smaller-chested. Unfortunately it can be tricky to line the applied textures up properly with your skin and shape when they're scaled down, so I wore them large for the sake of my pictures (and I'll admit that I felt a little bit like an over-stacked comic-book heroine at first, but I didn't dislike it either). Although the majority of Lolas business caters to those who want bigger breasts, I'd love to see a line of more modestly sized Tangos for those who want the more realistic looking shape and weight of the Tangos breasts in a smaller package. Smaller sizes may also encourage the open-mindedness necessary for people to try them, instead of dismissing them as a fetish item.
A lot of the stores that cater to prim breast users don't do much to discourage the stereotype that prim breasts are only for a certain kind of virtual woman, but a quick search of the SL Marketplace will reveal that you don't have to do all your shopping at places like The Whore Mansion (which I promise I did not make up) if you don't want to. For example, I picked up the cute Skinny sweater shown above from Paradisis [SLURL] [SL Marketplace], and it comes with an applier as well as 2 different colours. Even though the majority of clothing for prim breasts is pretty provocative, there are plenty of tops, dresses, and ensembles available for more conservative tastes.
It boils down to this: I know plenty of women who are proud of their ample chests and consider it a part of their identity, but who hate the awkward (and ugly) look of large breasts made with Second Life's avatar sliders; likewise I know a lot of photographers who spend ages touching up the perfect breast shape in a picture from Second Life. So come on. Try them out (though the lack of a demo makes this step harder), shrink them or stretch them, bare them or cover them, just don't let the prejudice surrounding prim breasts keep you from trying something that might be exactly what you're looking for.Tweet
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.