Ask Sophia: "My Best Friend Copies EVERYTHING I Do"
Q: Hey girl. WOW do I ever need your help. I love my best friend with all my heart but she copies EVERYTHING I do. I get bangs, the next day she shows up to school with bangs, I start shopping at a certain store, boom next week she has the same clothes. I understand that I don't "own" these certain things but I just want to be unique sometimes. Any advice?
A: Remember when you were in elementary school and some kid would draw the same thing you were drawing or start wearing silly bands, but you had started wearing them first? Teachers and parents would offer that ‘copying’ is the biggest form of flattery.
Short answer to this dilemma is that your friend aspires to be like you. She envies your confidence to be bold and try out bangs, your new sense of style, and ability to pick out unique and flattering outfits. Teen girls are envious but they can’t say it… they show it. Internally she’s thinking, “I'm insecure, damn this girl is cool… I’ll follow her formula”.
In the end of 6th grade, this group of ‘popular girls’ all wore these matching sweatpants with white long sleeve shirts, Calvin Klein bralettes, and a champion hoodie on a school retreat. You best believe that I got the same sweatpants for hanukkah, begged my mom for a calvin klein bras (by the end of 6th grade I had a small collection), saved up urban outfitter gift cards to splurge on a champion hoodie, and picked out a very similar white shirt from Brandy Melville. I fully ‘copied’ these girls, but honestly I was insecure and jealous of their effortless ability to stay ahead of the trends and their general display of wealth. Similar situation happened in early 9th grade. There was this girl who liked the same guy as I did and I know he liked her too. She was really big into eyeliner and baggy jeans and hoodies with little tank tops. Her personality was unique: quirky, bold, and somewhat annoying but viewed as ‘light hearted’ and ‘funny’ because the boys found her attractive. My exact thoughts: ‘why her and not me?’ (I’ll probably write a post on this in the future). On the other hand, there have been times that I order from a certain shop or find a cute type of earring and start to see all my friends following in my footsteps. It kind of reminds me of how if you do someone's dance on TikTok, it’s common courtesy to tag that person - an absurd expectation for real life experiences but in an odd way, I secretly look for some credit when I know someone’s ‘copying’ me. The point is, I understand what being on both sides of ‘copying’ feels like and having sympathy for the insecurities of your friend is important to understand.
2 things that might help you -
It is SUCH an elementary/middle/high school thing to just follow the pack. No one really knows who they want to be at this point and sometimes it’s easier to just fit in. She wants the same attention you are receiving, so she’s hoping ‘copying’ you will get her there. Your friend will eventually start to find her confidence and develop her OWN style. I promise she won’t copy you forever. If it were me, I won’t really say too much to your friend. This will just worsen all her doubts and insecurities. Maybe you could compliment her, ‘I love your shirt’ or make a joke like, ‘haha I see you hopped on the bangs trend, looks great on you!’. Even more, go out of your way to say something sweet about what makes her different, “no you look SO amazing with long hair, you have to keep it that way.”
Also, the thing is that she knows she's copying you. She knows she's inspired by you. If your friends see you with a cute shirt one week, and this girl walks in with the same one a week later, your friends know it too. The boys could care less. I understand that her copying you diminishes your uniqueness and if it gets to a level where this girl is starting to creep you out how similar she is getting to you, then go off and say something. If it just personally bothers you but it’s not a big deal, remember that you are being YOURSELF. You aren’t being an imposter, you’re not insecure, you are enthusiastically proud in your own skin… and that's what matters.