Sunday, 31 July 2011

How to deal with copycats

So I spent the afternoon at my town carnival, which was great, although I think a lot of people thought I was actually part of the carnival and some old guy wanted to take my picture. (Which brings the 'random people wanting to take pictures of me in my everyday wear' count up to three, which isn't lots and lots, but still, I'm proud/amused/slightly concerned.) Pictures tomorrow, or maybe the day after.

Today's post comes following a slightly plaintive request from a young, anonymous Gothling who wonder what to do if someone is copying your style.

Source: Deathwaves
All right, we've all been there, probably during the school years for most of us. One of your friends (or someone in your neighbourhood or school, or a younger brother or sister) takes note of your awesome Goth look and thinks, "Hmm yes, that is the look for me." Which is fair enough. Unfortunately, instead of finding their own, unique Goth style the way you did, they've done their best to become a replica of you.

(I once flipped my lid when a slightly younger girl whom I was friends with became briefly interested in Goth; she didn't go out of her way to imitate my style, but we DID cease to be friends when she 'reminded me' casually that I had "said she could choose half of the things in my wardrobe and keep them for herself." I can assure you, I most definitely said nothing of the sort. She also frequently helped herself to my jewellery, and seemed to think I was some sort of cash machine.)

We all have people that we find inspiring, I'm sure, but being inspired and influenced by them is not the same thing as rushing out to try and duplicate their hair, make-up and outfits. That is annoying for the person being copied, and slightly creepy (not in a good way).

But first things first, don't blow a gasket! Before accusing or finger-pointing, be VERY certain that this person really is copying you. If you shop at Hot Topic or a particular local alt store, it's possible they could simply have bought a few of the same items by mistake. All-black clothing is hardly an original look - there's thousands of us doing it! As the Lady of the Manners explains, no one really has an original look. Are they are clearly trying to pull a mini-me (or mini-you, rather)?

Unless this person is a close friend, they may not even be aware that you have noticed them imitating you. Plus, as they say (and you knew I was going to say this) imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Remember that this person obviously looks up to you and admires your style, which is no bad thing. Inspiring someone is great! You just need to encourage them to develop their own style instead of mimicking yours.

The best and most direct way to do this is to speak to the person. No, darklings, please don't go over and yell at them to stop copying you, but you could say something along the lines of, "Hey, I really like your hat. I have a similar one myself," and from there strike up a conversation. Hopefully this will a) alert them to the fact you're aware of their existence so copying every detail of your outfits isn't a great idea or b) subtly make them aware that you've noticed their attempt to mimic your style.

However this is not a perfect world, so all that the above might achieve is c) making contact. So, if they still haven't stopped copying you, where to go from here? Some articles I read online suggest changing your style, but really, why should you stop dressing in a manner you like simply because someone else admires it? That doesn't seem quite fair to me, anyway.

If you feel you can do so (either you are confident enough or know the person well enough), perhaps you could say to them that you've noticed their style is similar to yours and drop some more hints (there are some more good examples in this Gothic Charm School post) - although there's no point out-and-out accusing them of copying you because they are likely to be embarrassed and deny it.

If worse comes to worst, your comments may make no difference; in which case, all you can do is simply ignore it. No copycat will be interested in stealing your style forever and will eventually move on to pastures new. In the meantime, you can make yourself feel better about the situation by making your outfits harder to copy - try DIYing your outfits, obscure band logos and one-of-a-kind or vintage items; these will be hard for the other person to imitate, which may make them lose interest faster.

Remember - this other person isn't trying to be annoying, they're interested in the same things as you are and struggling to express themselves with as much ease as you can. Be kind. If they ask for help or advice when you speak to them, use this as an opportunity to steer them towards developing their own look; stress individuality and creativity.

Do let me know if this was helpful, and let me know how it goes.

Goth gossip: What recently made the comedian John Bishop laugh? The sight of a Goth on roller blades, apparently. ^^


MissVermilion said...

I had a similar experience years ago when I felt interested about Cyber fashion.A teen girl of my High School began to wear the same outfits as me,cut her hair exactly like me and starting to buy the same.Telling the truth I never felt annoyed or angry,I saw that kind of behavior so cute,I mean,she was only a young girl! As you said before months later she stopped to like my style and got into scene fashion.
Great post as always!

Kaitlyn said...

That can be pretty aggravating. My boyfriend's ex girlfriend did it, she dyed her hair the same color of red as I had mine, it kind of motivated me to try unnatural colors. xD

Qwack said...

I had to deal with that for awhile. Thankfully, the copycat's father didn't let her continue. I even tried to help her, but she just... gah. It was odd.
I came to school, and when I approached her, one of the few people who don't think I'm homicidal, she flipped her hair over her eye and declared with a smug sense of superiority "I am Goth." She was wearing black sweatpants, converses, and a oversized sweater. I'm not saying she wasn't Goth, but that wasn't exactly the best way to "impress" the "Master" as she called me. I had only begun dressing Goth a week before!
She stated her reason just as that- "to be like you." I ended up getting into an argument when she screamed at me "How do you know YOU aren't a poser? That Evanescance/Manson/etc." isn't the epitome of Goth?

Ghoulina Bones said...

Oh man, I had that problem in high school.
It got really creepy really fast.
She copied and pasted the videos and my 'about me' from my myspace, at the time, and pasted it on hers.
Then started listening to the same music and trying to imitate me in dress, then denied it later, of course.
I had the hardest problem with her till recently.
When I was 17 I decided it was time to let it go, and I tried talking to her again.
It was alright, then when we hit college, she was "Too good" for me.
And that made me laugh.
Because she still looks like an awkward mess, just a little bit better is all.
Oh high school.

Ghoulina Bones said...

It wouldn't have been nearly as bad if she had admitted to it, or asked for help.
But no, she denied it and kept saying I was making it up and blah blah blah.
Now, that's just not an appopriate way to develop a friendship!

LovleAnjel said...

My then-boyfriend's cousin decided to copy me, she even "stole" my screen name for awhile. I figured ah, she's 14, she'll get over it, and after about 6 months she moved on to something else. But we also only saw her around holidays so it wasn't quite so vexing.

Anonymous said...

One of my friends and I have pretty similar tastes and do this to each other unintentionally all the time. For example, I once bought a skirt not knowing that she'd bought the exact same one the day before. We also own the same corset and the same boots, again completely by accident.
I didn't mind and actually found it quite amusing until she dyed her hair a similar colour to mine, and now EVERYONE feels the need to point out that we apparently look the same. Then it just got annoying.

Abilene said...

I would've exploded at that cheeky kid who tried to steal your jewellery. X_X I haven't had many experiences with copycats as most people around here loathe the Gothic fashion. One positive side to judgemental people!

Angel of Darkness said...

This is a good post Miss Amy. I have almost had this happen with a younger friend who looks up to me and my little sister but they all ended up going their own way.

chaoskitten[DF] said...

I had an interesting experience a few years back. I had a (non-goth) girl I went to school with accuse me of copying her simply because I bought a generic Jack Skellington T-shirt (whom a number of our friends had also) that she had. I also have a skeleton hoodie that she did too and I got the same reaction. As far as I'm concerned just because she had something doesn't mean it's barred from everyone else. (I still wear the hoodie too- it's lovely and warm)
I thought it was hilarious because we bought them from a shop, and they are mass-produced brand name clothes. All I could think of was the Gothic Charm School point that if you can buy it in a store, you can't consider it your very own idea.
At least no-one can accuse me nowadays, I make most of my own clothes now :)

A said...

I get to be so irritated when someone really copies what I do and tells the world that it was her own idea! Thank God I watched this video from Marie Forleo about how to deal with those copycats and get rid of them for good.

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