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Monday, November 14, 2016

Commentary: The Pygmalion In Us


By Mylie Foxclaw

I have been reading about the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea recently and I found myself thinking that we all tend to be just like Pygmalion.  For those who are not familiar with this legend, here’s a quick note about it.

Pygmalion was a sculptor who lost interest in women as he started to notice all their various flaws.  He started to fashion a sculpture of the perfect woman which he made out of ivory.  He worked on the sculpture for a long time, polishing every single detail to create a woman devoid of flaws.  Pygmalion fell in love with the statue and started to make offerings at Aphrodite’s temple (Aphrodite is the goddess of love in Greek Mythology).  When he returned home, he realised that Aphrodite had given life to the statue whose name was Galatea.  Pygmalion wed Galatea and they had a son… the typical happy ending.

I feel that we tend to be like Pygmalion in Second Life.  For instance, take a look at our avatars; they are a reflection of what we want to be.  Whether we opt to look like humans, furries, tinies or any other kind of avatar, the idea is to reproduce that perfect version we have in our mind already and try to reproduce it until we become satisfied.  Just like Pygmalion, we will improve the details and make modifications to our avatars to our taste until we reach the ideal avatar.  Hence, while some people look like dark creatures, others go for glamourous looking avatars and others can opt for legendary characters.  That also means, getting the right shape, skin, clothes, hair and accessories. Each person has his own vision of the perfect avatar he wants to be.

Other residents can also suggest ways to improve someone’s avatar and hint out that they need a makeover to look better.  A person can be satisfied with his own avatar’s appearance even though people around him don’t like certain aspects of his avatar.  That’s again because we each have our own idea of the ideal character and it’s the Pygmalion within us that wants to emerge and change that avatar to our own liking.  Let’s take a common example, you meet a newcomer inworld and you notice the default avatar.  You decide that you want to help him improve his looks, get a better shape or skin, buy him a new mesh body or take him to your favourite freebie spots that has the nicest clothes, etc.  Usually this new resident is just going along with your instructions as he’s trying to understand what he is doing.  That’s the Pygmalion within you creating your version of a nice looking avatar.  Your new friend may love it or he may tell you that he preferred his default avatar to this new updated look.  You may feel a little annoyed at that reaction or completely offended and wondering if you just wasted all your time on an ungrateful person.  Well, that’s not the case.  This person may not feel comfortable in this new look because it does not represent him or what he wants to be. 

Sometimes, we agree to look as others deem ideal such as when looking for a job inworld.  In certain jobs, having an updated look is a must.  In the second life modelling industry, generally you need to be very updated on your overall look in order to get selected for a job.  The same goes for other sectors.  For instance, if you want to work in an adult club, you need to look the part as well.  At some clubs or other businesses, you must abide to a specific type of avatar. The boss or the industry becomes your Pygmalion as you adapt yourself to the criteria demanded to work there.  In any case, if you want to work somewhere where looks do matter, you should expect to be told to make certain changes to your avatar when you go to work.

There’s nothing wrong with being a Pygmalion.  We each have our own idea of the ideal avatar and our views will definitely differ from each other.  Thus, we all have a Pygmalion within us, even in this virtual world.   

Image Credit: Razor Cure

Mylie Foxclaw

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