Yet, somehow, when one goes to a gay club in SL, one sees... them. They're all 7 foot 9 inches tall (aka: 100 on the height slider in 'Edit Appearance'), all have shoulders out to there, hips in to here. Pecs you could lose Arnold Schwarzenegger in between, an ass you could bounce a manhole cover off of. A jawline like one of those flying things from Avatar.
... they are. The Slider Queens.
Now, what do I mean by a slider queen? I got taken to a haute couture in SL event a long while ago, and there was NO arguing that every woman there was beautiful... but they looked VERY different from each other. Raven-tressed beauties with upturned noses, pointed chins on blondes with spikey Susan Powter hairdos, redheaded women who were shorter by a head than anyone else in the room.
But when I looked at the male models who were there, they seemed to mostly be wearing the same skin, the same hair (though some were blonde and others brunette- occasionally even black), and even the same shape. Only the clothes differed.
I found myself wondering- what causes this? Are men just lazier about their look? Is there a simpler ideal for what men SHOULD look like than there is for women, in modern society? Or was it perhaps that in the fashion world, the disparity between the sexes produces bias in what we see and think of ourselves? A friend's theory was that men are simply inclined to a less specific image of what an ideal man looks like, while women personalize beauty due to how society makes them interact with it. I'm not sure I agree with this theory, but it does seem like it should be mentioned here.
Sometimes, I get cynical and think that all the men look the same because there are only four good designers of shapes, skins or hair for men, and when one of them comes up with something good, the other three fall all over each other to imitate it (full disclosure: I KNOW VERY WELL there are more than four good designers working to produce things for men, that was me being cynical!).
Now think about this for a second, Gentle Reader: while I'm sure we all agree that- to pick two actors who are often side by side- Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are both handsome guys, you wouldn't confuse one with the other in a million years, would you? One's taller, the other's shorter; one's blonde, the other's brunette; one's got a rounder face, the other's face is more square... but they're both handsome guys. And neither one looks like Johnny Depp, or Leonardo DiCaprio, or...
Sure, in the RL fashion industry there's a fair bit of sameness- a lot of buffed models, a lot of girly ones- but why does it seem that a lot of gay guys in SL look almost identical?
My theory is that it's probably simply what's easiest. If you're buying a new suit, you pay less to buy one off the rack, but one off the rack is never going to fit you as exactly as one you had tailored... which cost a lot more money.
I've always been a great advocate of the DIY school of fashion, in SL. I'll buy a shape or outfit that looks good to me, by all means- but it will get a serious tweaking before I wear it out in public. Why are so many men OK with looking exactly identical, when ducking into the appearance menu and raising or lowering the tip of your nose can produce a thoroughly different face? I've never understood this- then again, I recently put on the first shape I bought (saved on my initial rez), and was startled by how completely different I look now. I've gone from the Terminator to Dana Ashbrook, by way of David Bowie, Gabriel Byrne, Brian Molko and Tom Sturridge, in 50 easy and tiny steps!
Part of what I find eyerolling about this, by the way, crops up when visiting the gay cruising hangouts in SL. Yes, I do pop up at such places from time to time. Yes, I even talk to people there. I even go home with them sometimes... but I do often find myself thinking 'they all... look... the same...' This, then, is the Slider Queen: a guy who maximizes (or minimizes) sliders according to some ideal of masculine beauty that would not only be very hard to attain in the real world, but would not be particularly stable either in not snapping under the weight of the rest of it, or in keeping from constantly wrestling with illness.
When I visit places full of guys cruising for sex, everybody has shoulders All The Way Out To There, a waist All The Way In To That, with a belly Way The Heck In To Here, and a crotch So Bulbous It Looks Like A Root Vegetable. Not everybody's a muscle queen. Not everybody's an ass man. Hell, if everybody was both of those, Elton John wouldn't be married, would he.
It just seems so strange to me that women strive to be unique- and men seem content to look identical. So a challenge to you, guys: save a copy of your shape (tack something like "[unmodified]" onto the end of the name, so you can find it again later if you screw up) and see what you think if you broaden your nose. Or make your eyes bigger, chin broader, shoulders narrower... You're allowed to make mistakes- it's how you learn, and if you DO screw up? That's why you saved it with '[unmodified]' on the end- so you can find it and go back to something that was NOT screwed up. Everybody screws it up from time to time.
While SL is an environment that lets you explore without barriers- where you can meet people you never would've met in RL, talk about anything you like- it's also an environment that allows you to explore physical asthetics and appearances in ways that it's hard to do, in the real world, without lots, and LOTS, of plastic surgery. You should make the most of it, and make your avatar nobody else's avatar!