If there’s one thing that always remains the same, it’s that times change. And in SL, multiply that by 100. :)
In the long annals of SL History, the lowly foot has had an interesting history. In the beginning, There were no prims, so shoes were simply textures applied to the feet, with the feet being ‘morphed’ into shoe-like shapes, via the slider system. So Maintaining a realistic foot size in relation to your body was of course important for this.
Then with the coming of prims, people would construct shoes out of those prims, and using them to hide the ‘real’ feet in the process. This brought about a shift, people tended to make the feet as small as possible, so there wouldn’t be any original foot parts sticking out from the prims. It wasn’t unusual to receive a notecard with a shoe stating “This shoe requires a foot size of zero!” Of course fitting was still an issue, even with zero foot size. That was what prompted the next phase.
Enter the Invisiprim
Eventually some clever people discovered a special texture used for Terrain generation which had an unusual property when placed on the avatar. It made the avatar turn invisible! This was completely unheard of up until that time. A prim with this special texture was dubbed an “Invisiprim” and quickly found use in all areas of avatar construction, but nowhere as common as on the shoe. Being able to hide the original foot made for a cleaner look and less fitting issues. Having a size Zero foot was really not a requirement anymore, but that tradition remained because it was so prevalent, after years of teaching people that was the ‘required’ foot size.
But Invisiprims were not without their own problems. When worn and viewed against a background that had any transparency in the texture, a white ‘halo’ would appear around the invisiprim shape. This created it’s own problems as it often could look worse than a few bits of foot poking through. Many tried tricks to minimize this, such as creating their invisiprims from sculpts to more closely hug the contours of the body, but there was really no way to eliminate the issue.
That was the Status Quo until Linden Lab finally introduced Alpha Layers. This wearable allowed selective removal of avatar body parts with a very high degree of precision and suffered from none of the problems of Invisiprims. It did however limit the ability to partially hide mirrored body parts (like the arms or hand); you couldn’t just hide one arm or hand, you had to hide both or neither.
Not long after Alpha Layers became the norm, Support for Invisiprims was dropped from the viewer. Note too that, with Alpha Layers Size Zero feet were still not a requirement, but persisted through tradition.
Fitted Mesh and Today
Now with the coming of Fitted Mesh to SL, there’s a lot of exciting possibilities. One can create a shoe or body part that not only replaces the original SL counterpart, but effectively take on the shape of that part it’s replacing, as defined by the sliders.
But the legacy of times past still haunts. Size Zero feet, which have not been necessary for a long time, still abound. And with FitMesh rigged feet/shoes, this is a problem. A size zero foot is going to look disproportionately small on the body.
Why not just scale things so a Size Zero foot looks right? Well, that could be done, but then that means if someone legitimately needs the foot/shoe to be smaller than what *I* may deem ‘normal’, there is no room to go any smaller. They lose the ability to adjust. On my avatar, for instance, a foot size of 35 looks just about ‘right’. But on someone else, 25 might be the magic number. If I adjusted it so my 35 was ‘zero’, they would need to set the slider to -10 to get the size they need. And that’s not possible.
The days of needing a size zero foot have long since passed, but the legacy of those days continue on. It’s time for people to put some thought into their foot size again. They matter now more than ever. Just some ‘foot’ for thought. :P