Does physical attractiveness matter in Second Life?

In a world where we can change our appearance with the click of a button here, or the drag of a slider there, how much does physical attractiveness matter in Second Life?

This is our topic for our next Basilique Salon – Wednesday at 1PM SLT. (SLurl)

You might ask, do looks even matter in the real world? Well, like it or not, if you measure  what ‘matters’ by job prospects and income, appearances matter greatly.

In the US, an attractive person (male or female) has a 16.6% better chance of getting a call back after a job interview than someone judged less attractive. On the job, attractive people earn 10% more than unattractive people. Over a lifetime, attractive people earn $230,000 USD more than their unattractive workmates.

Researchers have established that attractiveness ratings are positively correlated to facial symmetry – how similar our features line up on either side of your nose. Statistics show that people earn 8% more salary with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry.

The average weight of women in the US is 164.7 lb or 74.7 kg. Women who weigh 30 lb (13.6 kg) less than the average earn 33.7% more than women who weigh 30 lb more than the average. Women weighing 70 lb less than average earn $62,000 USD whereas women that weigh 70 lb more than average earn $21,500 USD. While you can chalk that up to other factors (e.g  in the UK, for instance, lower education correlates with a higher BMI in nearly the entire female population), consider that the average salary for an adult who is 6’0″ (182.9 cm) is $51,880, while the average salary for an adult who is 5’1″ (155 cm) is $40,000 USD.

The style of make-up you wear affects how you are perceived in the workplace. Women who wear “glamorous makeup” are considered more competent, more reliable, more attractive, and even more trustworthy than women who wear natural or no makeup at all.

No doubt about it, appearances matter, and barring healthy lifestyles or plastic surgery, there is little we can do to trade in our genetic lottery ticket.

In a virtual world, however, we can be as attractive as we want to be. Virtual plastic surgery is as accessible as the appearance window. Flawless skin is as expensive as a cup of coffee. Is this the future we crave, where perfection is actually attainable, even if only skin deep?

How has the power to make ourselves ideal affected our Second Lives? Are attractive avatars more successful, more social, or happier? How do we perceive attractiveness in the virtual world? Are we aware it’s a facade? How do we perceive ourselves when we can look as perfect as we want? Are we fooling ourselves? And why, do some reject this notion, and not bother with appearances at all, or even go the other way? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

Join me on Wednesday, 1PM at the Basilique Club where we’ll discuss these questions, and more. Both men and women are welcome to have their say, on attractiveness and Second Life.


10 thoughts on “Does physical attractiveness matter in Second Life?

  1. This is a great topic – I’m disappointed I won’t be there to participate. I might write something up for you before I get on the plane though!


  2. Very interesting! They do matter to me (me being my SL avvie) when talking about initial attraction. In a world where we can be anything we want, creativity is held in high esteem. Making a crazy unattractive avvie is another form of creativity. But an avvie wearing jeans and a t-shirt, for example, just holds no interest at all.

    Same can be said for very attractive avvies that are readily available and seen twenty times a day. It makes me think, whether deserved or not, “this person lacks imagination.” But then I remember everyone in SL is there for their own reasons, and ultimately it doesn’t matter what their avvie looks like, it only matters that they get some enjoyment out of being there.

    I can’t be there at that time but thought I’d participate in the conversation.


    1. Thank you for doing so! It’s funny, I frequently wear jeans and a t-shirt/jumper (in both lives) while I work on my creative projects (blogging, developing theatre productions, photography and building environments). For me it’s about focusing on my work while not worrying about what I have on me – it seems to help me focus my mind. I think you’re right, that people are in SL for their own reasons, and I think it’s also true that people express themselves in many ways apart from how they might look. Having said that, I love to dress up, and add richness to how I communicate by the way I dress, but then, I’m usually doing something relatively uncreative, like going to a club or having a casual chat with friends.


  3. Unfortunately, Becky, looks do matter as do first impressions. I suppose it could be argued that there is something Darwinian in this and that possibly the weeding out of the less attractive and the less able will lead to strengthening of the gene pool. This Social Darwinism has always been with us for better or for worse and possibly reached its low point in the 30’s and 40’s with Nazi Germany and their ambition to engineer the Superman.
    The lesson for all of us I suppose is to be patient with people and not judge based upon first impressions. I believe that we must remember that diamonds are found in gravel.
    I should think more upon this topic as I have been as guilty as the next person in prejudging my fellow human beings.


    1. It’s only human to pre-judge each other based on appearances. And as you say, it’s very likely evolutionarily based. I suppose it’s just another example of our constant struggle between what we are instinctively driven to do versus what might be alternatives driven by experience and open-mindedness.


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