Anyhow, on to what this is actually about: growing up. Okay, not growing up in the tradition sense, but in a...changes of avatar way. I don't mean switching between hair colors every other day or shapes or skins or whatever, but I mean, if you have a normal every day look and you start to change it slowly over time. I know Armalla, my roleplay character for a few years now, has had a few 'growing' changes in her appearance; style of clothing in a very small way, eyes, and her skin. Not to mention her shape which I've tweaked the tiniest of bits, basically to make it so her legs aren't so thin.
But my 'usual' OOC look has changed some, too. I've changed the shape a bit, slowly, over time, my average hair color is the same, skin has changed a bit thanks to group gifts and the like, and recently I've been suing brown eyes (or sorta kinda silver android eyes) more than hazel. Now, the last thing I have a good reason for; the hazel eyes I have are meh and I'm picky with hazel coloring. Some are too bright, other too dark, and other things that make me not go for it. But, on the other hand, I love these silver-ish eyes I have from ~*By Snow*~, which were a freebie I picked up when I had some idea for a picture I never took, and, while they are meant for more robot thingies, I like them. They're pretty. (These ones.) So I use them sometimes. I also have a nice set of brown eyes, add that to my mild weakness for brown eyes and...well...I've started using those a bit, too. Don't get me wrong, I love using hazel, but I'm picky. Very picky when it comes to that shade. And I've looked through marketplace without managing to find a freebie or so that is good enough for me.
I'll admit to using blonde hair OOC wise, too. Usually that's either because it seems to fit better, or if the only color of the hair that seems to fit I have is blonde. Switching between brunette and blonde actually doesn't seem that strange to me, but that may have something to do with Armalla being a blonde and how used I am to that by now.
|Yep. Blonde haired and brown eyed, it happened.|
But what I'm trying to get at with all this is that, over time, avatars grow a little in their own way. Assuming you don't change things all the time and, as mentioned, have a 'usual', or two, look(s). You find better skins, decide you like certain eyes better, or a new hair color, etc. Avatars have this capability to grow up so that the picture you have from maybe a few months back will and won't look like a current picture, much like how your ten year old self probably did and didn't look like your sixteen year old self. If you count by years with SL, then you will definitely not look the same if you like to keep updated with new things; basically that just means perhaps you'll look similar, but as newer model fitted with mesh instead of system layers and flexi hair. Though flexi and system layers are still used and can be gorgeous for certain things, two of my favorite shorter styles have are mainly flexi with one of them 'only' have a mesh attachment I've never used, they aren't the 'new' thing. I suppose you could compare updating an avatar with the sleeker items to buying a new model of whatever car.
I can look back on older pictures, or just go through my saved outfits, and see the differences. As it is, last night, I updated my elven huntress look a bit, but didn't find a sim fitting for pictures. The only real difference is that I used my now OOC skin, the Slink add-ons, different (same colored) eyes, and an outfit for another character of mine. I used the same twisted, flexi bun style. I still used the one pair of sculpted elf ears I have. Same sculpted necklace. So, yes, it looks more like that elf of mine has grown a little bit instead of changing completely. (Curious of what look I mean, click here.)
And as I look through blogs and Flickr, I see other avatars 'growing up'. Mesh heads, at least the Slink Visage one, give various avatars an older, more 'proper' appearance instead of a rounder face. If you follow this link, it'll actually take you to a side by side comparison; same everything minus the head. If you look through really anyone's SL Flickr not only can you see the change in their photography skills, but also the maturing of their avatar. For example, this is one of my older photos (can't post it up since, sadly, it's on my older hardrive/a flash drive, so would take some digging), and this is newer. Differences? Quite a bit. And you can find other things like that by being bored or curious and nosing through people's Flickrs.
So they grow up, not as we do, but in their own way. As newer things come out or we feel a need for an updated look, they grow. Actually the need for an updated look may have something to do with most people not wanting to stay stagnant and the same all the time. We change without even thinking about it, without putting any effort into it, but our avatars need a little push. They have to changed with prior thought on it, with energy expended on finding what you what, or just stumbling upon it. While humans as a whole are weird, most liking but loathing change at the same time, change is still something we need, even virtual change. Maybe you keep your avatar the same minus changing to mesh hair and clothes or whatever, but, perhaps, if you have a skybox or something, you change that around every now and again. Adding something, taking away something else. It's not the same, of course, but it's close.
I think that adding the concept of growing up to our avatars breathes a bit more life into them. You can think of the pixels as 'just' changing when you change them, but growing up seems to be a correct term to me somehow. I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself right with this, and I know it's only in a more rhetorical sense, but I'm hoping at least someone reading this understands what I mean and might be able to phrase it better. Perhaps after I get some sleep I'll take another crack at it, but pictures speak a thousand words and I think pictures is the best way to show this. So go look at someone's Flickr, you'll see what I mean.