23 mei 2008
The Avatar Fashionista’s Beauty Ideal: Bollywood Down, Natalia Imbruglia, Elisha Cuthbert, Rachel Leigh Cook Rising
Recently, a slew of Second Life fashionista bloggers ran screenshots of their avatars through MyHeritage’s Find the Celebrity in You filter, and posted the results. It’s a web app that analyzes a human face (real or virtual), quantifies its essential characteristics (nose shape, brow curvature, etc.), then compares that data to a spectrum of popcult celebrities. Put a bunch of those profile results together, and you have a sloppy but fun tool for measuring our collective sense of what’s beautiful in the human face, nowadays. If you wanted a gorgeous avatar, and you had the ability to make your face look quite literally like anyone, who would you look like?
I’ve collected the results from 15 Second Life Residents, and there’s some clear trends:
More often than not, they resemble Rachel Leigh Cook, Elisha Cuthbert, or Natalie Imbruglia. Four of the 15 avatars resemble those three, with Angelina Jolie a close runner up, at three. Caucasian Western celebrities predominate, with a Hallie Berry/Gabrielle Union/Mariah Carey smattering, followed by a strong minority of Japanese stars. (Ayumi Hamasaki ranks as high as Angelina.)
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, however, you’ll notice a striking lacuna: where’s all the Bollywood celebrities? Almost exactly two years ago, a number of SL women put their avatars through the same software, and almost all of them resembled Indian movie starlets. (As with legendary fashionista Torrid Midnight, at right, who got paired with the equally legendary Aishwarya Rai.) In this 2008 cohort, almost none of them do. Why? Did MyHeritage simply change their analysis software to disadvantage Indian faces? Or has the fashionista’s taste in beauty changed in recent years, from the influence of popular skin designers, or a demographic shift among the user base? (Brazilians and Japanese are now among the most active Second Life users, after the US and EU audience.)
Possible explanations abound. Check out my sampling of fashionista/celebrity comparisons, and see what other trends you can observe: Myllie Writer, Sandy Cleghorn, Melanie Kidd, Moire Georgette, Neferia Norway, Dakota Lubitsch, Sioxie Legend, Kyri of Essence of SL, Dorothy Willis, Rowan Carroll, Felicity Blumenthal, Aeryn of FabuLASH, this unnamed fashionista from My2SL, Sunshine Kukulcan, and Elise Petrov (with the sole Bollywood resemblance I spotted, to Ms. Rai.)