A young woman came into a fashion group chat and asked for “authentic African” wear available in SL. It really made me shudder. That’s like asking for authentic American wear. It’s an entire continent. Additionally, what this person might consider being “authentic” might simply be an “authentic” representation of the same old (racist/imperialist/ignorant) memes. Let’s face it—nothing in SL is “authentic”—it’s a representation of something else. We are influenced by and appropriate images and ideas from the rest of our literate, privileged culture(s) and bring them into SL and make sense of them in THIS platform. That’s what makes SL so interesting.
That whole thought process (and by the way, she didn’t quite get why people were not helping her—because most were thinking the same as me.. “authentically African? WTF does THAT mean?”) made me wonder about the outfit I have on.. clearly “Indian” influenced—or is it? The texture on the top from Miffyhoi Rosca has a pattern that looks Indian and she calls the outfit “India.” But would an Indian woman wear this? (Well chances are one would because many Indian woman dress pretty fashionably.) Even zooming in on Zaara Kohime’s necklace made me think. Her textures seem more like Chinese cloisonné rather than anything specifically Indian. I know Zaara lives in India; I know cloisonné is pretty much an east Asian thing. What IS authentically “Indian” and then what is authentic virtual Indian?
I won’t run Hart Larsson’s skin through this analysis. He got a little cultural critique for one of his skins already from me (and I will say he came back and discussed it with me in a very friendly fashion, which I appreciated tons). This skin is simply beautiful and a testimony to Hart’s artistry. He makes all his skins from scratch, hand-drawn, by the way. I have seen some of his other art and he really truly is an artist (in his spare time, when he’s not being a code poet). And Truth Hawks is known for his “real” hair. Not sure what he does to make it so—is it the randomly placed flexis like hair escaping from a braid, the great textures with variable tints running through the strands, or is it something else..?
What is “authentic” when you’re talking about cultural representation?
Hair: >TRUTH< Cecilia – treacle by Truth Hawks for >TRUTH< *
Skin: [PXL] GAIA SK CE DEB C3 with [PXL] GAIA SK Passion Lips (Tattoo) by Hart Larsson for [PXL]*
Eyes: FASHISM ‘Sunrise’ Eyes – Deep Hazel (ML) by Ikon Innovia for FASHISM *
Top: =Zenith=India2 outfit(TFG#8) by Miffyhoi Rosca for Zenith
Pants: [Miseria] Bitter Jeans – Dust by Miseria Daines for [Miseria]
Necklace: ZC : Karmuka necklace *colored silver* by Zaara Kohime for Zaara
Shoes: Zaara : Ilaida Mojri *turquoise* by Zaara Kohime for Zaara