We are often judged by our appearances. Sometimes what we wear, the way we carry ourselves and even the length or visibility of our hair in particular spaces erases who we are as individuals. We become instead, stereotypes that fit into particular ideas of how women and men should be. Instead of people with different thoughts, opinions, experiences and lives, we become convenient paper dolls that call for certain types of responses.
These visual markers do not just run on the lines of gender, they also cut across categories such as ethnicity, sexuality, able-bodiedness, age and more, which is turn shifts according to contexts. A woman with long hair sitting by herself in a bar wearing a short skirt is assumed to be sexually available. When she is raped, we think to ourselves, maybe she deserved it. A woman in a head scarf walking next to a man on the street is assumed to be oppressed. When she takes off her scarf, we think to ourselves, she must be progressive.
Challenge our own stereotypes and the images that perpetuate them. Make an avatar!
1. Think of stereotypes
- What are our own stereotypes about women and men?
- What are the markers which turns them from actual people into mere objects? Gender? Clothes? Age? Place?
- List them down.
- It might be easier to write it up as a situation you are in, especially if it actually happened. Maybe it's when someone treated you according to a stereotype, or when you responded to someone as a stereotype.
- E.g. Being called "girlie" by an elderly stranger. Walking past a police officer in uniform down the street and giving him a face because you assumed he was abusive of his power.
2. Make an avatar
- In computing terms, an avatar is commonly used to refer to the visual representation of the self, usually in the form of an icon, image, text or 3D model. The term is borrowed from the Sanskrit word for "form of self", used in many Indian languages.
- Make an avatar that challenges the stereotype you identified.
- Change their gender, clothes, bodies and more.
- There are many free avatar creators online. These are just some we've tried out.
- Go to Minidolls - an online service that lets you create and save avatars
- Click on each of the category to change them. This application allows you to change the background, your body and clothes, and add another person or even a pet. Click on different tabs to change her/his gender.
- When you're done, click on the button that says "GIF", and then "save". Save the image on your computer.
- Or if you prefer, you can also go to Doppelme, which is another online service that lets you create avatars and stores it for you.
- You have to register to use this service. We've created a takebackthetech account for all campaigners in case you don't want to register for an account. Send us an email if you'd like to use the shared account.
- Sign in and start making your avatar by clicking the options. You can change the avatar's gender, skin colour, expression, hair, clothes, background and more.
- Once you're done, click "I'm done". You'll be taken to your profile page where your avatar is.
- Click on "Quick code" to get the html link to your avatar
c) Draw it
- If you don't want to be limited by the options given, simply draw your avatar using paper, pencil and some colour.
- Once you're done, take a picture of it with your camera or mobile phone, or scan it if you have a scanner.
- Save that on your computer.
3. Add word bubbles
- You can also use words to further disrupt the stereotype. Give your avatar a voice and opinion.
- Go to Kyolo and add a speech bubble!
- Upload your picture by locating it on your computer, or adding the URL (in the html link, it's the one that appears after "img src" and looks like this "http://www.doppelme....../Avatar.gif"
- Upload the image and add a speech bubble. You can change the size of the bubble and the font by clicking on the options.
- To save the image, you have to sign up an account with Kyolo.
- Again, you can sign up an account with them, or opt to use our shared account. The username and password is the same as the one we used for Doppelme.
- You can also use print screen to save the picture (without signing in). Save the image on your computer, and crop it so it's just showing the avatar. Then crop the image using an image editor like GIMP, or even on Microsoft word.
Here's an avatar we made over at Kyolo.
4. Share it
- How are we shaking up stereotypes? Share your avatar!
- Create an account on this site, or login if you already have an account.
- If you saved your image on your computer, login to this site, click on "create content", then "image" to upload it.
- If you set up an account on Kyolo, copy the link that says "Code 2 for blogs/forums", and paste the code on the comment section of this page.
Have fun experimenting :)
Take Back The Tech & shatter stereotypes!