Friday, February 1, 2008

The Virtual Paper Doll.

Instead of dressing barbie dolls, the new trend is to dress and accessorize avatars, very similar to paper dolls, but on the computer. Design-her Gals ( has created a market where you (women only at this point, sorry guys) can pick features and outfits to create a virtual doll to look like you. Then you can print stationery and cards with your avatar on it. (To create an account and make an avatar is free, but the products aren't.) It's a great idea. However, there are some major flaws. They have four doll options: a girl aged somewhere between 9-14, an anorexic toothpick-thin woman, an hourglass-but-still-very-thin shaped woman, and an underweight pregnant woman. It seems to me that they are missing quite a few different mainstream figures (not to mention the other gender).

I remember in high school, my friends and I would classify body shape by fractions. There are typical fractions (e.g., 1/2, 3/4), whole numbers (or in fraction form 1/1, 3/3, etc.), and improper fractions (e.g., 2/1, 3/2). Someone who doesn't have much on top but is fuller on the bottom would be a regular fraction, someone who is relatively balanced would be a whole number, and someone who is well endowed on top and has no hip would be an improper fraction. Of course there could be as many varieties under those three categories as there are possible fractions. There is also the fruit method, in which there are pears, bananas, apples, mangos, etc.

It is a shame that there aren't more avatar template to represent those types. They are going right along with society expecting all the women to starve themselves in order to fit the ideal image. Did they think how it might make larger women feel not to have an avatar to represent them?

Well, the company I work for is considering a partnership with Design-her Gals. My boss encouraged all of us to check out the site and create our own just to get an idea of what they are all about. There are plenty of accessories so that you can change your style, activity, mood, etc. But this is what I thought best represented me on a typical day. (You will have to use your creativity to imagine the extra 15 pounds.)

All in all, I think it is quite a clever business. And to their credit, they work to help women (and I guess men too) with stage four breast cancer. But they could use a little more variety.

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