Women Prefer Their Virtual Selves Showing More Skin

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

If you’ve ever taken a long look around a crowd of people on holidays like Halloween or Mardi Gras, you’ll find people have a propensity to dress a tad more risqué, letting their inner stud or slut flag fly high. Maybe they’re wearing only that flag. Outside of these holidays, the way people dress to impress depends on a number of factors, such as weather, self-confidence, and wardrobe choice. That makes studying clothing habits complicated. So without a solid basis for comparison in the real life, researchers from Laval University looked to the one place where the flags fly highest and naughtiest: the Internet.


For a PLOS ONE study that followed 192 male and 212 female players of the online game/obsession Second Life, Matthieu Guitton and colleagues found that women overwhelmingly like to show off more skin than men do, regardless of the physical characteristics of their avatar. So it’s like baby got back either way, maybe. The avatar’s appearance, from gender to physical attributes, is up to the player, who can also design the clothing worn, so the fashion opportunities are seemingly limitless. But if you’re not working with much material to begin with…

71% of the males on average chose to cover 75-100% of their skin, while only 5% of women wore that much. On the opposite side, 1% of men kept 0-25% of their skin covered, compared to 10% of women. The middle ground is just as one-sided. In covering 50-74% of their body, men were at 19% and women doubled it at 38%. And in covering 25-49%, 9% of males did it, while 47% of females did. Any which way you look at it, women like to show their stuff. Considering the study was focused on how the use of exposed skin plays out in social interactions, it looks to me like, especially in social gaming, women still think that attraction is spawned by physical motivations, rather than intellectual ones. They did not say, however, if any of the 212 women studied were eventually found to be 300-pound men too fat to fit through their doorways.

I’m guessing when asked to name a sexual fantasy, many of you male readers — and probably some females — will spend at least a few mental ticks thinking about Princess Leia’s metal-kini in Return of the Jedi. It’s the epitome of sci-fi sexiness. Well, the researchers also limited their scope in a smaller study of the Second Life Star Wars role-playing community, and compared the amount of skin shown by male and female characters from the film franchise to both genders in the game. Not surprisingly, the results carried over, with men staying relatively consistent with the skin coverage in the movie — which amounted to lots of robes really — while women doubled the percentage of movie counterparts, with between 15-20% film skin shown and 30-40% avatar skin shown. You guys remember when Luke’s Aunt Beru came out of the hut in just a thong and nipple tassels?

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