It’s only human for us to want to present ourselves to the world in the best possible light. We don’t have perfect bodies, skin, hair or teeth, and we can’t always afford to buy the clothes we'd like. 3D Web worlds give us the chance to recreate ourselves however we choose, so that we can be that perfect specimen. At SpotON3D, we've always advocated a more reality-based approach with avatars, but that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to embellish our appearance, hiding all those little imperfections that we don’t want others to see.
Then... along comes Ceecee Flores. Here is someone with much more reason than most to want to cover up her own physical limitations, but she has chosen not to do so. Ceecee has spent most of her life in a wheelchair, and it seemed natural for her to create an avatar that reflects the lifestyle she and many others have learned to deal with on a daily basis. It is a truly inspiring story.
Her view of the world has helped to shape her choice. “Some people have been compelled to question, ‘Why would you put your avatar in a wheelchair when you can walk here?’ I am not a very good actress and never get asked to RP (role play) twice or in fact have I ever wanted to. I live in a home that walking people find difficult to use. My microwave built-in wall is about 18 inches off the floor. Cook top and sinks are lower than usual and made so I can roll under them easily. Oven doors open to the side, not drop down. I have never driven a car without hand controls. I feel just as out of place in my abled friends’ kitchens as they do in mine. Rarely is my wheelchair very far from my reach and grasp when I am out of it. Frankly, if it is I am very uncomfortable. My clothes are cut different than able women's. Made to fit my bigger arms and not put pressure on my skin where I can't feel. I live in a different world than most people. A world that was made to suit my needs. My world is as familiar and comfortable to me as yours is to you.”
But it is not just because of personal comfort that Ceecee has chosen to use her wheelchair in an online world. She also thinks of herself as “something of a rolling ambassador for the differently abled community.” When people encounter her avatar for the first time, they go through the same stages of awareness as in real life: some shock, then curiosity, and finally acceptance. So, it serves to help others to appreciate the fact that those with disabilities are real people with real feelings, no different than abled people. As Ceecee puts it, “awareness in virtual life leads to awareness in real life.”
One thing that Ceecee finds particularly upsetting is the lack of coverage of the Paralympic Games on American television. “I find it disturbing that today as I write this, over one billion people around the world are watching the Paralympics in London, and there is no coverage at all on American TV. In Holland there is a world class tennis champion. Her name is Esther Vergeer. She has not lost a singles match in women’s wheelchair tennis in over 453 straight matches. A ten year winning streak. Any other athlete who had so totally dominated a sport would be a household name.
“So I refuse to hide and pretend I am not a wheelie. I think people need to see us as a normal part of the world and realize we exist. The chair is no different than eyeglasses. It is just something people like me use, an aid.”
In short, Ceecee created her avatar as it is “because she is reflection of me.” She makes her own clothing to fit her avatar properly, and she even had her avatar skin created from photographs of her. She is not afraid to embrace everything that she is, and make it a part of her online life.
Besides the time she spends on SpotON3D, Ceecee enjoys frequenting a number of other online worlds. She currently has her home base on 3rd Rock Grid™, and also spends time on several other Opensim based worlds. She also has accounts on Active Worlds™, Kaneva™, There™, and Twinity™ to name a few. Wherever she goes, she enjoys getting together with others, listening to music and making people laugh. "I love to just wander off to a grid I have never seen to marvel at what truly clever people can do."
Ceecee, we're so glad that you came to SpotON3D and wish you the best in everything that you do.
The Paralympic Games took place this year in London from August 29-September 9. Unfortunately, I did not publish this in time to inform everyone of the live events, and do I apologize for that. However, you can get information and see videos of the events by visiting http://www.paralympic.org and http://www.facebook.com/ParalympicGames.
Sometimes it is difficult for an able-bodied person to know how to interact effectively with someone who has disabilities. For information on this, please check out http://www.unitedspinal.org/disability-etiquette/.
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