The Emperor’s New Mesh

Someone’s got to explain to me what’s so great about mesh. I’ve been trying to like the stuff for months, and it’s been 6 weeks since I paid through the nose for my own mesh outfit, but the stuff still looks like a layer of clay to me. It’s thick, dull, and because it doesn’t hang and doesn’t move it looks dead, like your clothes are made of sheet lead–Chernobyl chic. Where’s the charm in this? What am I missing!

They tell me mesh keeps your body from poking through your clothes, and I suppose that can be a problem (as compared to the problem in a simple mesh mishap, in which half your body just totally disappears). But is encasing yourself in garments of reinforced concrete really the best fix for that? Aren’t clothes supposed to enhance the body and not just smother it? Wouldn’t it be better to just amputate the offending body part and go through Second Life as a maimed but sartorially acceptable cripple then to zip yourself into one of those mesh catcher’s uniforms that passes for an outfit? Is the solution really to make everyone look like a member of the bomb disposal squad?

I can see where mesh would be useful for things like shoes and boots that don’t have to bend or flow. And I suppose a mesh vagina that keeps the man’s penis from poking through her during sex is a good idea. But for clothes? Or–even worse–hair??

The first time I saw mesh hair I thought the woman had layered strips of dough on her head, and admit it: mesh hair looks like crap. It just lays there like strips of mesh blubber, but without even quivering. It calls to mind that plastic snap-on hair you fastened to the Lego people’s head hole, a kind of combination toupee and construction helmet. Or the Alien’s larval form where it just lay on John Hurt and impregnated him with its demon spawn.  Is the problem of cranial trans-hair extrusion so devastating that we have to wear globs of plaster of Paris on our scalps? Can no one enlarge flexi hair anymore?

Does anyone think mesh hair looks good?

I really think what we’re dealing with here is a case of The Emperor’s New Hair. We don’t think it really looks good, but we know it’s hot and the latest thing and so we want it, and the fact that it’s so obscenely expensive just makes us want it more, as status symbol. And we walk around thinking we’re all that while other people are covering their mouths with their hands, partly to muffle their sniggering, and partly to keep their gorge down.

Now, all along I people have been telling me, “Oh, you haven’t seen the good mesh yet!” or, “Wait till you see some really well-done mesh clothes!” Well, I finally have. I’ve been shown some of the best by some well-connected SL models and I can say that it looks just as bad as the bad stuff. Maybe the textures are better, or the designer has taken to combining mesh with flexi to make the stuff to look less dead, but it still looks bad. Gowns have stiff, mesh bodices or torsos, with skirts of flowing flexi, and still the models look like they’re inhabiting the gown the way you inhabit a sandwich board, not wearing it.

So that’s my piece. The Emperor’s new clothes are a fraud, and so are mesh clothes. I have a three piece mesh outfit I bought for upwards of L$3,000: jeans, shirt, and sports coat. I look like Gumby when I wear it. I’m not wearing it any more.

No. I think the real force behind this mesh thing might just be modesty. I think mesh might be a reaction against the rampant sexualization  of women in SL and the tight, revealing clothes they have to wear. I think maybe it’s driven by body-fatigue and by a desire for clothes that conceal more than they revea., Mesh, with its inherent dowdiness,  is the perfect antidote to carnality. Mesh is the burkha of Second Life.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope it hasn’t come to this. There must be something else to this whole mesh stampede that I’m just missing. If so, I wish someone would explain it to me.


About Aiden Swain

Editor/Publisher, Humm Magazine: Journal of Cybersexuality


  1. I think mesh was meant to be the next big thing, but like anything, there are good and not-so-good applications of the technology. I have a few mesh items of clothing that I like and there are some great mesh builds out there. The appeal for me has always been the richness and detail of the textures, and they don’t warp and stretch like system or prim ones do. I don’t think modesty has anything to do with it–women are sexualized in SL just as the are in the RL… mesh won’t change that.

    Great article!


  2. Thaumata Strangelove

    This article made me laugh and shake my head. There is certainly a lot of bad, cookie-cutter mesh out there, but the good stuff is great. I’ve been adjusting that stupid crotch-flap prim on miniskirts since 2005 – I was ecstatic to see it go. Or how about long hair (or perhaps in your case, a necktie?) that doesn’t poke through your chest when you bend to sit, dance or remove someone’s knickers? And you know that awful Crevice of Doom between an avatar’s ass and thighs? It doesn’t exist when you slip into a slinky little mesh dress – instead, the dress gives you the most satisfyingly round backside known to SL. Surely you can appreciate that. 😉

  3. Blogger Man, you are sooo right.

    Mesh is great for inworld rezzables. It allows for much greater texture detail and more intricate shapes from a single prim. Mesh items even rez WAY faster than sculpted items. If I’m shopping for a house or a car and I see “MESH” on the label …. thumbs up!

    Mesh is even pretty good for boots, maybe jewelry, maybe hats.

    But for clothing – MESH SUCKS! We were told mesh would conform to the avatar- it does not. We must completely conform to the mesh. That’s why one must wear the alpha layers, to HIDE your shape so that the clothes will define your shape. You don’t need that shape you’ve tailored for hours, or spent BIG money on! just let the guy who made your shirt determine your shape! That way we can ALL look like Gumby! (great description, BTW) or as I put it, like balloon animals. WHY? Why would I go to all that work to get my shape juuuuuust the way I want it, then completely surrender my body contours to the shirtmaker? Shape merchants, you’re screwed – hang it up.

    I, too bought a mesh suit when it was the fresh rage. I did a little experimentation with it, and I even have the photographic evidence. I made 4 shapes:

    1. a lean, lanky, athletic marathon-runner lookin’ guy
    2. Mr. Muscles, body builder with more bulging sinews than the butcher shop at Kroger’s
    3. a meek, wilting wimpy-lil-guy shape
    4. the only female shape in the bunch: a sumptuously curvy woman. Not a BBW, but not a Boobtard Barbie type either, just my perception of a realistic soft curvy girly girl.

    Put ’em all on the posestand, took pics. Then, one by one they donned the proper alphas and wore the mesh business suit (the “proper” size, of course) .

    More pics.

    Guess what? You know it – with the mesh suit on suddenly they all had THE SAME shape. Yes, THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE!

    Thats right, thanks to mesh … Lance Armstrong, Lou Ferrigno, “Screech” from Saved By The Bell, and YOUR SISTER will






    I’m in an inworld group named “Mesh Sucks”. It is open enrollment, the more the merrier.

    But wait!

    Now that I think of it, mesh clothing has indeed done one great thing for fashion in SL. Now, thank to mesh, we can have HAMMERPANTS! God, how did make it soo long in SL with Hammerpants?

  4. correction, last line: “without Hammerpants?”

  5. zuzuziana

    Just hate the prim hair going through my avie i can’t make decent pictures if half of my hair or clothe bends in avie as i use some animation and as i walk my prim hair floats way to unrealistic better it to stay put. Different shapes of clothes aren’t possible with prims…is limited and sculps suck they may not rezz properly and sculpts are just parts of an item not item itself when talking about clothes, mesh instead u can make anything ofcourse if you have the 3d abilities to build such ^^. Mesh is a next step to a better 3d life. Haters are people that don’t like changes.. limited to what they are used to no offence here. I am for further development, this mesh will get better and stuff will improve as it goes, just need time. When sculpts came into SL some people were of same opinion like why we need it looks bad omg no! XD…
    Mesh Buildings… i love mesh buildings with baked lights and furniture all. Some mesh hair do look bad but hey some prim hairs too look bad as easy !
    Yes for mesh!

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