Just Me

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Beautiful People

Beautiful People.

We all know them. We’ve all seen them. Some of us might even be among their ranks, if we are fortunate (or not, all things depending).

It was harder dealing with the idea of Beautiful People when I was younger, and I guess I shouldn't refer to them as “them” at all, as that creates a line between us that does not really exist. We are all people just trying to get by, learning as we go, having our eyes opened over time and our confining walls knocked down in the most unexpected ways.

But whatever I think now, that idea came too late and slowly to rid me of the jadedness of realizing that I was never going to be one of the Beautiful People or “fit” snugly in with them.

In high school, they threw and attended all the parties together. They were usually cheerleaders and football players and class officers and prom queens. We were still adults-in-training then, trying on different identities like one would try on a wall of shoes, searching for whatever made us feel good about ourselves.

In college, the effect was even more pronounced, as Beautiful People were now more practiced and we were all forced to live in proximity to each other for months at a time. They were the little blonde sorority girls with their faddish coiffures and oh-so-even tans, the swaggering Herculean jocks with their fast sport cars and ruggedly cleft chins, the lawyer wannabes with every hair in the right place and money to burn.

What is funny is how a person can be so indifferent and yet so jealous of the Beautiful People all at once — wanting to be viewed as successful, attractive, confident, stylish, and at the same time realizing that the whole affair will ultimately lead no where, like one wild goose chase where the goose at the end has already been butchered and plucked and cooked and you are plunging headlong towards the chopping block.

This is not really a rant (it probably just sounds that way, and perhaps I’m getting a little tizzed out reliving it as I write), but it actually does have something to do with Second Life, because in the virtual world one can take on whatever appearance one chooses. We are no longer cursed or blessed with the bodies God gave us, we are no longer damned or saved by chains of callous genes. How we portray ourselves visually and how others see us is largely now our own choice, hindered only by the depth of our desire and the breadth of our imagination.

So I wonder, how many of us choose to be a Beautiful Person in Second Life and why; and how many of us reject that sort of identity (reluctantly or not) as inauthentic? Why do we choose what we choose, and what are we trying to say by our choice?

Oh, there are definitely Beautiful People in Second Life, and if you do any shopping for clothes, they’re kind of hard to miss. I want to write more about that later, but it’s dizzying (if not partly depressing) to walk through the shops and see the Beautiful People I thought I had escaped from my young adulthood, all with their sculpted faces, designer tans, trendy hair, skinny waistlines, clothes fashioned more around what they reveal rather than what they conceal.

Perhaps the loss of identity to fit some sort of worshiped ideal is why the Beautiful People bother me. As they jam themselves into the image of what we worship socially, they lose sense of any personal uniqueness. They all look and act alike. Like the old bonus rounds on “Wheel of Fortune,” where everyone was told to select five letters and a vowel and ended up picking the same combination every time [T, R, N, L, and S, I think — plus that trampish little socialite, the letter E], everyone shoots for the idea of ideal beauty and end up looking non-descript in their image of perfection.

I’m not a comic-book heroine nor a runway model. I’m just me.

I can appreciate the fact that Beautiful People can exist in Second Life. And I can also appreciate the fact that Second Life does not force me to become one of them.

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