You're used to seeing me in the LAQ skin, Phoebe, in Ebony. It's my favorite skin and for good reason. I wear it so, that I usually leave it out of the photo credits.
However, as I've mentioned, I like to shop. I like variety! I've had the same skin for my entire Second Life (which is all of 15 months). So I decided it was time to try another skin. In real life, I am a dark-skinned woman. Of course, I want my avatar to reflect me as much as possible. Therefore, I searched for "dark" skins.
Generally, I think the options for dark-skinned women (and perhaps men, as well) are quite limited. It's unfortunate. I don't understand the exclusion for most designers; is it not as easy to make a dark skin as it is a light skin? Perhaps I don't know what goes into making a skin well enough to make a judgment, and I readily admit that, but there are designers who DO cater to the darker-skinned SL population. Why are there so few who sell TRULY dark skins, considering such a creation is obviously possible? To me, it suggests that dark skin is a feature to be ignored, something unattractive, something not legitimate enough to recreate in Second Life. But dark-skinned people DO exist behind avatars, and as long as they have the linden to buy dark skin, dark skin should be available to them. Because there are designers who acknowledge dark skin, we do have options. However, we don't have as many options are light-skinned people (or people wishing to play SL as light-skinned, regardless of their RL skin tone).
Here's the thing: when I went around looking for skins, I found nothing but spectacular skins. It's obvious that all skin designers I visited were talented and sold beautiful skins. I want them, but my belief that I shouldn't have to settle precludes my purchasing the skin. And that's regardless of how much I admire the skin.
The following is what I found on my search, which has lasted about a month. I've not given up yet. I have ten photos here, showcasing skins from nine different designers. I've included my LAQ skin just for comparison. Out of the ten skins here, I'd say only two or three of them are the kind of dark I'm looking for. Of course, I'm not going to make any comments as to which designers' skins I favor here, because I think that's just unnecessary. However, I'm sure you can deduce that LAQ's Phoebe is one of my favorites. Also, these are arranged in alphabetical order, not in order of preference.
Here we go:
As I said before, I wish I could buy skins from all of these designers. Obviously, all of these skins are beautiful and realistic. However, I highly doubt that light-skinned avatars are limited to a very small group designers. That's the way it SHOULD be, but also for darker-skinned avatars. I (and other people prefer a dark skin for their avatar) deserve to be just as fulfilled as our more fair-skinned counterparts, especially since everyone - white, black, red, purple, and so on - sparse resources (linden) toward that end.
When a designer's darkest skin, whether it be "dark" or "mocha" or "cocoa" - is more like a tanned light skin, then there is a portion of the SL (and RL) population that is being either purposely ignored or unintentionally excluded.
Which case are we seeing here?
EDIT: I didn't want to originally mention this because I'm always nervous about singling anyone out, whether for good or bad! But I've got to thank Izzie Button for her mocha release of the Bonita skin. I did speak with her about my concern, and she was so understanding of my concern and of the fact that I meant no harm.
The mocha release, once I got my hands on it, was a dream come true for me! Not only is the skin well-made and detailed (love the freckle and birthmark deets!); it is a skin that I accept as a dark skin. I am by no means important enough to think that every designer must adhere to MY, and only MY, opinion as to what constitutes "dark." But I'm so fortunate and so glad that Izzie cared, listened, and responded! And she's a real sweetheart. (I'm not suggesting she released the mocha version just for me, and I hope it does not come off that way. I just wanted to personally thank her for caring about the concerns of one single customers of SO many!).