Walking the streets of a new city, looking around shops and studying products as though everything is totally new to me because packaging is no longer in a language I can understand, taking nothing for granted anymore, I am seeing the world and all of its parts in a new way.
All around me I see imitation. Is anyone satisfied with being him/herself? In people, products, places it is there. It seems as though everyone, everything, everywhere strives to be someone, or something, or somewhere different.
One of the main shopping streets here is known as the Champs Elysees of Budapest.
Why can’t we stand alone? Why can’t we be ourselves?
As I look around me I see groups of young people dress in the same way, style their hair the same, make themselves over in the style of someone else – a stranger on their morning commute, the still, serene face from a magazine, their closest friends, their greatest rivals. They wear matching bracelets, buy the same cover for their identical mobile phones, live in the same area, visit the same places.
It appears to be in our nature to mimic what we admire. To crave it for ourselves. To always want to better ourselves in some way. To be in a better place. To become that which we admire. Life is short. Perhaps it should be no surprise that we want more from it. But by wanting more do we miss the chance to enjoy what we have?
No matter how deeply it runs, no matter how great the effort to achieve that imitation, the copy is never as interesting, as convincing or as good as the original. It is the original’s very uniqueness that makes it worthy of imitation in the first place.
A crude experiment helped me realise this conclusion. Take two make-up palettes, one from a big name brand with a high price tag, the other from a high street store with a scandalously cheap price. The low end product is a blatant homage to the first. Same colours, same theme, same attempt at scenting the product, same cute presentation. Both portray an appealing picture, but when it comes to the detail the low end copy falls short. The cheap plastic casing has already broken whereas the high end metal tin is flawless. The eyeshadows themselves are an inferior product. Application is hard work for a finish that looks less polished and is not as long lasting as the original.
Before I tried either of them I suspected this would be the outcome, but I had to try. And there it is. Imitation. A desire to bring something better to within our grasp. It will always be there, because even when we know we have found something unique, something worthy of being up on that pedestal, we cannot help but reach for it.