One of the things that separates Second Life from that pesky Real Life (and, indeed, from many other online environments) is the degree to which you can manipulate your appearance. The moment you enter this strange new world for the first time, you are given a choice of bodies to incarnate into. And while you are assured that you can change your mind later, at least in my case, the body I chose seems to have influenced my appearance ever since.
I picked the CyberGoth option, because it seemed the most like how I felt on the inside, even if I don't look much like that in Real Life. The other human bodies were far too mundane for me, and the furry bodies, while an interesting possibility, didn't really appeal to me as much as they undoubtedly appeal to others.
So I became a Goth. After I learned how to walk, I poked at tweaking my appearance a bit and did my time on Help Island before emerging into the big wide world.
As time progressed, I figured out more about how to refine how I looked, such as how to make my eyes look like eyes instead of blank voids and how to get rid of that weird headphone looking thingy on my head. I made some very simple clothes, uploading a few .jpg textures I'd googled and just doing simple length and color adjustments on standard clothing. Picked up a few freebies here and there as well, but mostly I was DIY. I gripped tightly to the few Lindens I had because I needed them for upload fees and I wasn't on SL frequently enough to hold down a steady job anywhere.
I looked like a newbie, dressed in freebies. I did what I could with what I had and was largely satisfied with it.
Then I met Miles.
Miles Montgolfier actually signed up for Second Life about two months after I did. She likewise started life as a CyberGoth, but spent more time and more money to become a kind of Amazonian Goth Goddess. When we finally met face to face in SL (we already knew each other in RL at this point, but kept missing each other inworld) I told her I was vaguely intimidated by her appearance. She was quite impressive, with her fluttering primskirts, huge black wings and flowing hair. I looked quite plain next to her.
This is when I was still only in SL about once a week on the borrowed machine, so we made a point of meeting up and hanging out on those Sunday nights. Miles gave me slews of freebies, including some skins that I tried on for size. I settled on some pale white 'vampire' skin that actually had nipples and tattoos on it.
One of those nights, Miles took me to Deviant Kitty to look at prim hair. I tried on various demos, but sighed that I couldn't really afford to buy anything, since I only had so many Lindens to work with and no source of Linden income. (Lindcome?)
"Whatever," said Miles, as she gave me 200 Lindens.
So I bought hair. It's actually the hair I'm wearing in this particular icon. As Miles took me to a few more places, I admired the way the hair moved as I walked. I was hooked.
A few days later, I bought Lindens with my PayPal account. Four dollars and some change (I was trying to round off my PayPal balance to a nice even number) bought me over a thousand Lindens.
I bought more hair (and accidentally botched some of it trying to edit it) and invested in a Deviant Kitty skin for a mere 100 Lindens that has served me nicely for many months.
Then I started getting, I suppose, restless again in terms of how I looked. I looked fine from a distance, but up close I looked a little too 'rendered' compared to others. I wasn't happy with my nose, but wasn't sure what to do to fix it.
So a few nights ago, at another laptop session at Miles' RL apartment, Miles offered to adjust some hair that I had that didn't quite sit right on my head. The next thing I know, we went from adjusting my hair to shopping for a new shape and skin for me.
The way we achieved this was a bit odd and kind of amusing. We switched bodies. Since we were both in the same room in RL, Miles logged into my account and I logged into Miles' account on our respective computers. I 'shoulder-surfed' (Miles' term) to pick out a new body and skin and Miles had me buy them, try them on and make adjustments.
I hated the result. Not that it looked bad, precisely, it just didn't look like me anymore. I fiddled some more with it when I had my body again, trying to get it back to the way it was. I ended up putting the old skin back on--which now looked completely different on this new shape--and ended up adjusting things back to something resembling what it was.
I can't find my original shape in my inventory, for some reason. I've made a point of saving and naming a copy of what I'm wearing now so I'll have a backup. But I still look vaguely unfamiliar to myself and I'm still trying to deal to it.
*sigh* I want my old face back.