Friday, April 3, 2009

Ritual and Dress

Chey in Roaring 20s Mode
Written 17 December, 2008

Ritual and Dress

I make a lot of jokes in this blog about being a fashionista—I’m not, really. Really.


I almost never dress up in real life.

I attribute this to a dislike of ritual. Wedding, funerals, graduations (even my own) are mild ordeals for me. I like to look nice for parties, to be sure, but I agree totally with Thoreau, who once said one should beware any enterprise which requires new clothes.

And why do I dislike ritual? It’s not that getting dressed up is painful, uncomfortable, expensive, or embarrassing (which it is, all four), or about being required to be around other people (which I rather enjoy), but because, I think, the individual becomes suborned to the ritual itself. I dislike getting dressed up because I feel I am secondary to the ritual.

Rituals are like mini-deterministic existences, providing temporary structure to our existence. Some people might need that; I don’t. And so I can claim to have slept or daydreamed through every sermon I heard in my entire life and nodded off or surreptitiously read a paperback during almost every ceremony I’ve ever attended (including all three of my graduations; I did manage to stay awake once when I was married, but then again I was standing).

I attend the occasional ceremony, but be sure— in real life I’ll be asleep with my eyes open and in SL I’ll be there in person but watching YouTube videos or running a spyware program or idly playing Bejeweled. Even when I’m a bridesmaid.

I’m not particularly proud of this, but it’s who I am and I’ve grown comfortable with it.

Strangely enough, I love getting dressed up when it’s purely for the sake of getting dressed up. And so I’m fond of fashion in Second Life. Having gone through my bling and butt skirt periods, I’ve become more sophisticated in my taste. I look for skirts that merge seamlessly into my avatar body, seams that line up, and finished edges, and I look for clothes that will work nicely with my shape. Many don’t. I look for drawn textures as opposed to photoreal. I look for clothing that can be modified. I look for clothing that is beautiful and unusual.

How strange! In real life I would wear jeans and a pullover top to meet a head of state (I have), but in Second Life I’m likely as not to be wearing a formal gown with flowing skirts and 5" heels when exploring or building!

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