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The Age of Virtual Beauty
The Miss Digital World Contest
Every age has an ideal beauty, Franz Cerami has said, from the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa to Marilyn Monroe. The enterprising Italian conceived the brilliant idea of Miss Digital World. This is a yearly contest in which digital artists submit 3D and graphic art of virtual beauties, and win prizes, such as Pro versions of DX Studio, Gift Certificates and a percentage of the revenue gained from using the models. A calendar of these unearthly women is also available. The competition has been extremely popular, with contestants from all over the world.
Third Place in the Miss Digital World Contest!
Dark Eve, created by another Italian, won the title last year. She isnâ€™t a conventional beauty and indeed looks a little intimidating with her almost shaved head and cyberarms. This fierce-looking virtual model also has rather 'masculine' interests - according to Zoomata.com, she likes 'martial arts, quantum computing and videogames'.
Virtual model, Katty-ko, who won the 2004 contest, was very different from Dark Eve.
Interestingly she was based on Latin American actress, Katty Kowaleczko. Her husband, Perez Ayala hired artist, Flavio Parra, to recreate her. Kowaleczko was quoted in an article by Giada Zampano, as saying: "Iâ€™m so happy Katty-ko won. I think her strength is her resemblance to a real woman - not too exuberant or voluptuous. Her beauty is in her simplicity."
Even though many of the artists have been women and Katty-ko was based on a real woman, many feminists are 'up in arms' about the contest. They think that a virtual beauty contest is even worse than a real one. They are upset that the models are usually tall and thin, with good bone structure and beautiful hair and skin. Feminists argue that it is difficult enough to compete with real models, who are sometimes anorexic, let alone virtual ones!
Second Place in the Miss Digital World Contest!
Netwoman, for example, complained that these virtual women are unrealistic: Much like Barbie: "if Barbie were a real person, she would be 5'9" tall and weigh 110 pounds, only 76% of her healthy weight. Her measurements would be 39-18-33, and she likely would not be able to menstruate due to being underweight."
They may also take away real jobs. Virtual models have many advantages, of course. They can work at any time, anywhere, and whoever purchases or licenses them can employ them in any way they want, within virtual limitations, of course! They are also much cheaper than real models. One commentator suggested that, in the future, these cyber-people may even replace Reality TV and real actresses and models.
It is quite true that many of the virtual model's creators will want to emulate the success of the intrepid Lara Croft of the computer game, Tomb Raider. A large reason for her fame, however, is that she was brought to life by the beautiful Angelina Jolie, a real actress.
Another cyber-model who was very popular in Japan was Kyoko Date, who sang, walked and danced. She even had her own hit CD. A gamine beauty, a little like a modern Japanese Audrey Hepburn, Kyoko came into being at a very early stage - 1996. She attracted the attention of teenage boys from all over the world. They wrote to bulletin boards about her and searched for graphics of her. Some teenage girls also showed interest in this phenomenon, but trends don't last long in Japan, and her popularity soon burned itself out.
And the Winner is...
What should we make of Miss Digital World then? Should women be concerned or regard this as a bit of fun? These cyber-models are so cute and their originators are so creative that it's actually very difficult to dislike them! Many would agree with the famous American model, Clarissa Burt, now living in Italy, who told an interviewer at CNN that: "â€¦nothing in the world can replace the warmth, the love that human beings can give you. So let just remember that all this computer generated staff it's just fun and there it is and there it remains."..
Perhaps it's an idea to have a Mr. Digital World to even out the score!
By Lisa-Anne Sanderson