My brain somehow seems to only start working halfways decently later at night, since earlier I was...having a few issues with normal brain function it would seem as someone who I accidentally kept awake longer than they shoulder been can attest to. And I still fell sorry for that, but I digress. My point here is that with my mind working at the current speed it is, I read this, and after getting over the fact there are apparently mesh normal people ears (besides elven and those gauges which make no sense to me in either life) I moved on to this which was linked in said post. And then I started thinking which is as equally a good thing as bad depending on what, and in this case I think it's a mix depending on if my rambling seems pointless or not. Also, sorry if I'm reiterating myself at all from my changing standards post.
I hardly edit my pictures, ever. I do it, yes, when I want to add a certain...touch to something, but else I don't. Even then it's really just a small effect, nothing big. Granted, perhaps if I had Photoshop I might, since I've liked it since I used it in a photography class I took, but I have Gimp and, while it does quite a bit, it doesn't do near as much as the paid for photo editor. And I'll admit, I admire those SL pics that look so very close to real at first glance and wish I knew how to do that, but even if I did/could I would only do it for artful purposes, not 'just because'. I think rather much can be done to make a picture within SL, and in RL, too, beautiful without the need of a photo editor. Of course such tools can make it look pretty, but they aren't needed. It really boils down to a sense of aesthetics and what you want in beauty, but, as the latter post does point out, it can give unreal expectations. I think if these editors were used in moderation, and only when really needed or the photographers wants a certain feel, it would be better. And some people do do that, and others do awesome things with editors. But using them and being dependent are two different things. Being dependent on a photo editor and just using it without looking at your picture and seeing if it really needs it, is not so good a thing. Certain things do need editing, and others don't. Some look better if mildly edited, but heavy editing is hardly needed for day to day use. Even filters aren't really needed.
Filters and edits are growing in how well they are done and how often they are used. I think must people stay away form such thigns when starting out in any sort of photography since they don't want to mess it up really, except for filters. Filters are possibly used rather much when starting out, since they are easy and you can't really mess up with adding black and white or sepia tones. But on either end, they are used more often, in both worlds. In RL, other than adds, Instagram and such encourages a filter; in SL, possibly the updates of clothes and hair and bodies looking better with mesh has people want to tweak things jsut a bit more. It's easier, perhaps, with the mesh updates to smooth out stuff so you don't have to, or perhaps because the aesthetic want is greater with it looking better unedited than in previous years. There was a greater standard for the 'natural' look (as natural as a virtual body can be), so the standard of the pictured look went up in response. If something looks good in reality, there tends to be some sort of expectation of it being able to be better when captured, at least for the most part.
Whether in SL or RL, no one is ever going to be able to match an edited picture. As Lucie's post also points out, perhaps what we might change on our SL avatar would be what we'd tweak on ourselves, or at least to a similar degree. Even if your avatar is already looking like a model, you might find more flaws if you feel them in yourself. It was only touched in that post, but I'm going more into since such things draw me to them.
It would make sense if there was some correlation, at least to me. While our avatars may look widely different from our own selves, what we might wish to edit on them (the normal avi weirdness aside) what we can't really edit on ourselves. We can change our shape in SL, our skin, our hair, our eyes, whatever you want, but if you are trained to perceive certain flaws, you may yet see it and want to change it. The lips aren't quite right; edit. The nose is weird; edit. I personally don't see the problem with the 'usual' lips if the skin creator did alright with them, besides the teeth perhaps but those hardly show unless prompted, but people want to change them. And while you may know that it isn't the real thing, others may think it is and that may make whoever did the picture feel good.
But if you see a flaw on yourself, again if your nose is not quite the shape you think it ought to be, you might be more picky on your virtual self, as you have a choice, you can change it. So you do what you can in the 'physical' bit, but then you take a picture. It's still there. So, logically, while touching it up to add some effects or however, you pay specific attention to that one part that just isn't quite right in your eyes. In many ways our avis are a mirror of ourselves, physical or mental, they are a mirror, so fixing one's RL imperfections on one's SL self, could perhaps give a confidence boost....until you realize you don't look like that and can't just fix whatever you think looks wrong. That's when worse things set in and, while someone may not do the same edits they would for a SL picture, they may slap a filter over any and all profile picture they have. So what if the people you are friends with/have on your Skype/etc. might already know how you look, adding a filter of sorts that might just draw the eye away from one part of you to another. We edit ourselves no matter if virtual or not, in pictures so we can seem perfect if only for one captured moment in time.
This really all goes back to the ideas of beauty, but of course it's more focused on the idea of pictures instead. Since pictures are a lot easier (and cheaper in either life thanks to free photo editors) than editing our bodies.
What I wonder is that, when everything is mesh, bodies and all else, will people still want to edit. (and the entirely mesh thing is getting closer with the starter avis now mesh, a fitted mesh body for sale, mesh heads, etc.) I think yes. Even with the edges smoothed out, people will want to throw a filter over perceived 'imperfections' and will want to cover up little details that they don't like. Perfection is truly unattainable, in either life, at least if you ask me. I don't see any member of the human race looking at any picture of themselves and thinking 'I'm perfect', whether virtual or not. I don't see this ever happening because of how our brains are wired; we always want to find that elusive thing that makes something perfect, but then we find something that that perfect thing doesn't have and need to find that plus the former thing. And it goes on, even if you can accept whatever 'flaw' you see, you'll still possibly go back to wanting to change it. It doesn't matter if the flaw is virtual or not, you'll still want to change it.
We want more, we want perfection, but we won't get it. We can't get it. Not as long as we continue to think the way we are made to. Editing pictures, while a wonderful thing for art and certain emotions to get across, isn't helpful when it comes to feeling a 'need' for it before you'll dare upload anything. We slap on filters to make things look 'pretty', we edit to make things look 'better', not really is it ever use for the sake of art, just for perfection.