Friday, November 25, 2016

Beauty Standards Are Present In Virtual Reality?!

Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Tall, tan and most likely under 25. This is the description of the ideal woman, who is thought to be sought after by men and held to the highest beauty standard by women.

I personally have seen this concept in action, on the game Covet Fashion, created by Crowdstar, a mobile entertainment developer. I have played the game for a little longer than a year and enjoy customizing virtual models in designer clothing available for purchase outside the app. Users expand their digital closets by voting on other outfits created by fellow "Coveters," which gives them access to new hair and makeup styles. However, during the duration of my gameplay, I noticed that olive-skinned (light tan) models with blonde hair score better in public voting than their darker-skinned counterparts, unless the challenge involves a safari or hip-hop theme. The overall assumption that colored women cannot represent futuristic, fairylike or traditional bridal themes present in the game can be loosely based in prejudice, as well as ignorance. For instance, the images below are advertisements for Covet Fashion. The first graphic consists of 21 virtual models, where only 7 reflect darker skintones. Likewise, the same white model with a platinum blonde bun is repeated 5 times when the opportunity to present new cultural backgrounds could have been utilized.

Crowdstar is not fully responsible for the issue of white models garnering better scores as it is up to the users to vote for the models that are submitted. The integration of new makeup to embody Indian culture, such as a bindi and nose ring, are being implemented, as well as new body shapes arriving in mid-December. Nevertheless, Covet Fashion advertisements almost always depict white models and the new, plus-size or petite bodies will be selected by Crowdstar for a given challenge instead of users choosing which they would like to clothe. Hopefully in the future, similar mobile games will advertise more ethnically-diverse models to inspire their audiences to see beauty in every size, skin tone and culture. 

Unfortunate differences in scores and skin tones are shown below. 



"Top looks" are the outfits created that have the highest score, as seen below. Often, they are all identical.

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