Avatar-makers are fun little tools that let you make a representation of yourself to use online, usually for icons. I haven’t used many, but I did make use of the South Park studio a couple years ago to make a lil’ PastaQueen to use on my return address labels.
I read a journal entry a couple months ago by lizardek where she compiled all the avatars she’d made over the years. Looking over all her mini-me’s she realized that they “adhere to a standard ideal of beauty that includes high cheekbones, heart-shaped faces, round and doll-like eyes, and skinnyness. They’re little mini-me’s without the freckles and barky hair and untidy eyebrows. It’s like being a virtual Barbie Make-Up Head!”
Whenever I’ve used avatar-makers I’ve never gone out of my way to make my twin fat, though typically that’s not even an option. It’s not like there’s much demand for the “add acne” button either. The South Park PastaQueen is rather squat, but so are all South Park characters. Strangely, I forgot to put glasses on her at first even though those are the first things I put on in the morning.
Everyone is prettier on the Internet. I know my younger brother who has met up with many girls from Yahoo! personals would testify in court to this. Online we can all exist in soft lighting with Vaseline smeared on the camera lens. I think this is just an extension of our natural desire to put our best foot forward. Before a date you’d probably put on a dress and make-up, unless you’re a guy in which case you’d be going a very different kind of date. We send the prettiest, most lovely versions of ourselves out there, online or off. Yesterday, Big Fat Deal even posted about a digital camera that can make you look thinner.
The Encyclopedia Dramatica documents the fat girl angle shot (not safe for work, there are boobies). Classic signs: looking up at the camera to hide a double chin, high contrast, no full body shots. I cracked up laughing when I read that entry (even though it’s kind of mean) because the first icon I used online was a textbook fat girl angle shot and I didn’t even know it:
Notice the high camera angle, the hair across my face, the cave-like lighting – all obvious attempts to hide my fatness. That or I was a poor student who couldn’t afford light bulbs. I didn’t know someone had coined a term for this phenomena. Once something has a name it seems to have more power, as if the fact that someone has defined it and acknowledges its existence makes it more real.
Which is why I think it’s kind of brave for weight loss bloggers put all their weight issues online for everyone to see. Not storming-the-beaches-of-Normandy brave, but still braver than your average cowardly lion. I know when I designed my blog template, I decided to screw all that pretty business and just put up huge pictures of my huge self. Partly this was part of the process of accepting the reality of my situation. Partly it just fit well with the whole “half of me” theme to put up big pictures of half of myself.
I know that not everyone wants to post pictures because they want to remain anonymous, which is completely understandable. You never know who’s watching. Last week I found out my mom reads this blog. But when I do see a picture of someone posted that is “real” it’s a nice reminder of the fact that we don’t always have to pretend to be the best versions of ourselves and can sometimes just be ourselves, fat rolls and all.