When I was in high school, I saved my allowance to buy a banging new outfit for the Bayou Classic. It was a pair of black jeans (as tight as my mother would allow), a matching black denim cropped vest and a black and white striped top, all by Bongo Jeans and all from The Body Shop, which was THE shop for teenage girls when I was growing up. I was so excited to go to Pensacola’s Cordova Mall and buy this outfit, then wear it in New Orleans and to school.
Imagine how I felt when soon after I’d worn it, a classmate went out and bought a nearly identical outfit, down to the shirt and belt with a big buckle–in hunter green. If there were hundreds of kids in my school it might not have mattered, but there were just about a hundred kids in each class. So if we showed up wearing them on the same day and had the same class(es), it was awkward.
I still wore my outfit but it didn’t feel quite as…special. I never let my classmate know her blatant imitation did not feel like flattery.
I’m a grown up now. And I don’t think anyone is out here trying to copy my looks from head to toe anymore–if they are, good luck with that. What has become impossible to ignore though is people who are, shall we say, heavily inspired by what I’ve written, posted and shared. These are people who stop just short of clicking “Control +C” and “Control +V.” Inspiration is great; many people inspire me. But what you won’t see is me coming out with a Pink Lemonade album, or singing “When Swans Cry” and acting like I thought of it myself. I won’t ever try to be The Jenesaisquoi, J.Crew is My Favorite Store, Atlantic Pacific or Demetria Lucas D’Oyley, because I’d be a poor imitation. I love them. But it’s much more fun just being me. And if I were going to be inspired by them I’d at least give them props in print (like I just did). Or via video.
I don’t copy because it’s taken me a long time to be totally comfortable being Alexis, and writing in my own voice. That’s why I have to put up this post today. I’ve put too much time and effort into what I do not to defend it. So for those who are leaning heavily on or who are so deeply inspired by my posts, graduate work or journalism (and I know you’re reading this), that you use it to attempt your own low budget versions, know that I see you. We all do. E for Effort, darlings! I’m just thankful my family of supporters know the difference between cheap imitations and the real deal.
Make sure you don’t ever get so sloppy and desperate that you directly plagiarize my work, though, because then we’ll have a problem. Let me be explicit: my work is original content that is protected by copyright law*, and I take my intellectual property as seriously as I take getting dressed every day.
Keep it chic,
*i.e. That’s what the fine print at the very bottom of this page means.
Images via Giphy (<—Here’s another way to attribute work you didn’t do or dream up by yourself. You’re welcome.)