August 27th, 2015, 21:56 Posted By: wraggster
Sometimes it's the simple things in life that have the biggest impact on how we see ourselves. For me, it was a day sat alone at home on my sofa. I had just come into possession of a virtual reality headset, an Oculus Rift, and I found myself losing myself to a life I had never been able to properly experience before. Living as a transgender woman, Virtual Reality headsets have been both a blessing and a curse since they came into my life. They've made me more conscious than ever before of my body.
I guess a good place to start would be the first VR game I played on an Oculus Rift, a game called Pixel Rift (it has since been renamed Pixel Ripped). Pixel Rift sees you placed in the body of a young girl in various stages of her video-game-playing life, from being a baby sat on the floor looking up at an advert for a games console to playing games under the desk in school.
For someone who grew up living under a male name, being able to inhabit a female body during the years of my life I was living as male was a truly captivating experience. Something as simple as sitting at a chair in a classroom, wearing the uniform I'd never been able to wear, was a window into a childhood I never got to experience properly. I couldn't help grinning ear to ear. Just being able to sit and experience that body was something that filled me with a real sense of peace.
I was curious. I wanted to see where this VR rabbit-hole could lead me. Unfortunately, not every VR experience I had was that universally peaceful for me. Following Pixel Rift, I started to seek out VR experiences that could attempt to emulate a body that (at the time) seemed a long way from my own. Some were exciting, like playing a modded VR version of Mirror’s Edge, but ultimately the game that gave me the most insight into myself was a simple VR experience titled Girl Body.
Girl Body is simple. Stand in front of a mirror, look at a woman who moves her head as you do. Inhabit a female body. It was hardly complicated, but it left me with a lot of complicated feelings.
First, there were phantom limb sensations. It's one thing to know your body isn't what you hope it one day will become, but it's something different to have your eyes and your sense of touch lying to each other: to look at yourself and see a body you'd be happy with, but then run your hands across yourself and have things not feel the way they look. It was distressing. I found myself feeling in many ways worse about my actual appearance; I'd seen the end goal and been reminded that what I was seeing wasn't my reality. That really hurt. For the next few days, I felt incredibly self-conscious about aspects of my appearance I had previously been able to ignore on a daily basis.
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