Have you noticed that we are turning into a bunch of look-alikes because of our unremitting desire to follow the fashion trends? A hairdo that is the spit and image of a hairdo worn by Victoria Beckham; a pet dog of the same breed favored by Paris Hilton; shoes of the same brand as seen on the feet of Sarah Jessica Parker etc. Imitation is all we are striving for. As a result, we are losing our individuality. On the other hand, there is no reason to be upset. Nobody says that imitation is bad. Studies show that a desire to have things that are used by a majority is a natural desire, which is also the cornerstone of our development.
Our behavior may be lacking in depth and originality, it may as well look servile – there is nothing to worry about, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Durham in Britain. The researchers investigated popularity of names, music styles and even dog breeds to find out why various trends become all the rage.
The researchers came to the conclusion that celebrities were a main driving force of fashion. Some people seem to derive special pleasure from wearing threads that are used or designed by their idols. The popularity of a brand name favored by Jennifer Lopez or Victoria Beckham may be sky-high yet the quality of brand-name products may be well below that of cheaper brands. The study draws attention to the notion of “lead user” authored by Eric Von Hippel in 1980. Celebrities i.e. movie stars, widely known athletes and politicians play the part of “lead users” in various areas. Professor Bill Von Hippel, the son of Eric Von Hippel, claims that each area has its own “lead user” or role model whose lifestyle and behavior is imitated by the common people.
The researchers believe that evolution rests on imitation, no matter how strange the statement may appear. Imitation contributes to our education and development. Moreover, something that we see or hear repeatedly becomes more likeable and understandable for us. Pay attention to the way we form our judgment on whether we like or dislike a pop song, for instance. We may feel rather unimpressed after listening to the song for the first time. However, our likeness for the song grows as we listen to it over and over. The same applies to the way we pick our clothes. No wonder we end up looking for a certain article of clothing after lots of people start wearing it.
The researchers also point out that celebrities are no strangers to a herd instinct and imitation too. An African orphan boy adopted by Madonna is one of the recent examples. Madonna seems to have followed suit of Angelina Jolie who also adopted orphans from third world countries. The public regarded Madonna’s move as an imitation, no matter how lofty her aims may have been.
The study seems to convey the following message: one should not be ashamed if driven by a desire to look like the others, it is a natural thing, by and large. In other words, do not start finding faults with yourself every time you feel like buying some trendy outfit, your desire perfectly agrees with human nature.
Translated by Guerman Grachev