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Friday, September 18, 2009


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Victor Komparu

I think there's an erroneous and somewhat offensive assumption being implied here. If you look at it statistically, 2/3 of Americans are of an unhealthy weight, and this causes our mathematical "average" to represent overweight, unhealthy people. This type of "make your avatar look like the REAL you!" game is offensive to those of us who already have honest avatars.

As a nation, our weight has been on a meteoric rise on a scale of years, not centuries; it's not in our genes-- that is not a logical explanation. It's in our behaviours: lethargy and lack of portion control (involving sugar mostly, I think) are to blame. Nothing else could explain the skyrocketing rates of obesity in just the last 20 years.

We can blame other people all we like: the media, our parents, peers... but when it comes right down to it, nobody's making us fat but ourselves.

Overweight people have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and a long list of other problems. It's not cute, it's not something for which you should strive for acceptance like race or sexual orientation. It's a health issue that should be addressed.


Yak loves Avatar-women with realistic thighs and derierre...

Botgirl Questi

I posted a related image and brief commentary yesterday: http://bit.ly/FV1SN in response to a great article from Michele Hyacinth http://bit.ly/dcRW2

Pathfinder Linden

Elizabeth Dean at RTI did some interesting research on how an avatar's image may influence someone's real-life image. Her preliminary results suggest that people may adjust their RL identity to be consistent with that of their avatars.



I just don't like fat girls and more so in SL. More power to them if they want to play a bbw, means i won't waste my time on them.

Mako Kungfu

Hey, some guys took Hybrid's challenge too, ahem. Lol.

Scarp Godenot

Scarp Godenot punches self righteous commenter Victor in the face.

Victor Komparu

I knew it would get personal at some point.

Being overweight is a serious and preventable health risk. Furthermore, it's a serious burden to the health insurance system. Healthy people pay higher insurance premiums on group policies due to some members being overweight.

Not only is it unhealthy, it's unfair to those around you.

Please get some exercise and eat responsibly.

Doreen Garrigus

Pathfinder, I'm not sure that research says what it purports to say. For instance, people reported different real life BMIs when they were interviewed by thin avatars than when they were interviewed by obese avatars. Doesn't this suggest to you that what we are witnessing is a response to social pressure to be thin? That maybe people are fudging their numbers a little in response to the presence of someone skinny?

And what about physical activity level? Clearly, there is a relationship between what people do in the real world and what their avatars do in virtual space. There is nothing in that study, however, to indicate which direction the influence goes. I would very much like to see SL rock-climbing be a kind of "gateway drug" for RL rock-climbing, for instance, but I'm afraid it might be the other way around: someone who is into rock-climbing in RL might want their avatar to reflect that interest.

All of that said, I'm glad to see more realistic bodies in Second Life. A healthy weight for the average woman (5'5" tall) is between 115 and 145 pounds. Most of the "BBW" avatars that I saw were not actually out of the healthy human weight range---they just looked a lot different than the unrealistically skinny shapes that are typical in SL. Now, since the Meerkat and Emerald viewers both have an (ACCURATE!!) avatar height indicator in appearance mode, perhaps the average avatar height will drop below 7.5 feet...


So Wagner, curious to hear what you think about this -- the fact that people are dressing up or even creating overweight avatars inspires emotional reactions in some here. It also does, from my research, in the wider SL community.

Does this self-idealization in SL pose a risk to young kids who are growing up immersed in games?


I'm going to say this here and now with all the comments weeping about the health of heavy people.

Only 5 to 10% of people lose weight and keep it off. And they must keep that weight off for a minimum of 5 to 7 years to even be considered a diet success. Only 5 to 10%. And those lucky few are only the ones falling back to their natural set point. Everyone else is fighting against nature. You can't win a battle against genetics.

The big rise in weight statistics is due to the dieting industry which makes mega amounts of money. So much so that they will spend chump change in order to tell normal people that they are heavy. I've been different places in the world. And Americans aren't any fatter or thinner than anyone else.

Wake up people.

Katydid Something

My avatar is styled after a (younger) trimmer me. It inspires me every day to stay on my diet and exercise program. 10 lbs. off in the last 2 months and counting. And my RL identity is tied directly to my SL avie-- until I look in the mirror. Keeps me striving for a manageable goal.

Effie Emmons

Hmmm... I wonder if some have lost sight of the fact that SL is designed so that you can choose to be whatever you want to be despite the parameters of RL. Do we take the shape of our avie too seriously?

Although maintaining a healthy outlook in RL is important to me, I highly doubt that this was the venue to get on a soap box out maintaining a healthy RL. Personally, I would rather lift someone’s spirits than lecture at them.

I have found that in my travels in SL the many people I meet have different reasons for what they get out of SL. Some people use it as a means to do things they cannot do in RL. For instance, the wheelchair bound person that wants to ski, skydive, etc. With all the different perspectives in SL, I’m sure there are some people in world that actually get a boost of self-confidence or motive for a healthier lifestyle. If so, I applaud them.

Do we analyze what people are thinking that want to be a dragon, elf, robot, transformer, neko, tiny or any other type of avatar? Are they choosing an avatar because they want some fun in their lives?

Personally, I think if we all are having fun in SL and getting something positive out of our experiences, the shape of our avies should not matter. I think the ability for all of us to have gorgeous avies puts everyone on the same level. We get to know each other without the prejudices that sometimes RL hands us.

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Wagner James Au
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