AdviceHey, Bonita!

Copycat Friend Stealing My Style

Hey Bonita,

Have you ever had anyone in your life that you clicked with and really had fun hanging around, but then you wake up one day and realize that they are actually… kind of awful? It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, but here is the gist: I’ve had someone in my life since I started college, and the friendship has always been fun but not that deep. I would beeline to this girl if I saw her out downtown, but she’s never met my family or anything. We have lots in common, though, and she’s been part of my social circle ever since I got here. I’d definitely call her a friend, but she’s not a “best friend” by a longshot. 

When we met, she was very Plain Jane, and just recently, she’s been showing much more personality with her clothing and hair and stuff. I would absolutely love this about her if she wasn’t just copying me and my friends. I’ve worn a certain look or style, and then the next week she’ll have her own little version of it. If I tried, I bet I could match every outfit of hers, and even her current hair color, to a look that me or my friends have done in the past.  

I like to think of myself as a unique person, and I would never bite someone else’s style. I work too hard thinking of a cute outfit and putting it together to have someone rip it off, and not even in a sly way. It pisses me off, and it makes it hard for me to want to hang out with her right now.  We all spent last year in quarantine, so I really felt the urge to go out and see my friends when the semester started, but not if she’s going to be there. Do I confront her about her sticky fingers, or just let her copycating speak for itself? Either way, I feel disrespected, and I’m really annoyed with her.

Being Imitated But Not Flattered

Hey Imitated,

I think you’re making a lot of assumptions that will not help you deal with these feelings or preserve this friendship (if that’s what you want to do). I understand your assumption that this person is copying your style, but are you sure that you two aren’t just part of the same social circle where the people in it all kind of dress alike? Maybe it’s because that’s not the way she presented herself when you first met her, but it’s very common for people to really change over the course of their undergraduate experience. And personally, I feel that it’s really only something that we notice in hindsight, too. Right now this girl feels like a biter, but to me, you’re just describing someone going through the motions of growing up. Plus, people are gonna share your tastes and your desire to emulate certain aesthetics, and it doesn’t mean they are trying to undermine your sense of self by liking something that you like, too. 

I am so happy that you feel unique and take pride in expressing that uniqueness, but I fail to see how such a positive self image can be bolstered by judging other people so harshly. When we do that, we give others the final say on our value, because we are judging our own offerings against someone else’s. I think that we should strive to keep that power of value judgment with ourselves by not pulling others into our self image. It’s not about being the most unique or the “coolest” or whatever.  Those ideas are subjective and unquantifiable, so why bother?

Do not confront this person. Why in the hell would you do that? What purpose would it serve or help? You’ll just sound self-important and snobby, and she’ll just feel ostracized and doubt herself. I promise you that your look is not that unique, and you should not take your friend’s style personally. Everyone in college is figuring out who they are and what they like, and those things will continue to change over the years. Get used to people growing.

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