Ask Amy: Imitation Is an Annoying Form of Flattery

By Amy Dickinson | February 15th, 2021

Twinning is fun at first – until it goes too far

Coworker imitation

Dear Amy: Imagine working in an office and having someone copying everything you wear!

“Kate” is my colleague. She is a very nice person and sits next to me.

We are medical professionals seeing the same patients, but she comes from a rural area and when she started here, she had zero sense of style. That’s OK. She wanted to fit in here at the office and has started to completely copy me. It’s so irritating that she just goes and buys everything I wear (sweaters, shoes, bags).

She even has the same haircut from my hairdresser!

How should I deal with someone who imitates me to this extent?

I’ve stopped sharing details regarding where I shop, but she already knows.

She has everything that I wear/own (basics, like cardigans). On some days we are literally twinning, which feels sick.

I love taking the effort to put a good look together, but here I have a copycat right next door!

I know it sounds trivial, but I have to work and deal with this person every day.

Initially this imitation was flattering toward me.

I would really like your thoughts on how to handle this hindrance!

— Copied

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Dear Copied: We all take our inspiration from sources that appeal to us and yes, unless your co-worker is Single White Female-ing you (look it up), her imitation is a form of flattery. Surely, you have put together your own look based on others who have influenced you.

Copying your style might also be a mark of your co-worker’s insecurity, and a subconscious way of elevating her own standing.

I suggest a subtle correction, along with a campaign of kindness, to encourage her to continue to evolve.

You can say, “Yikes, we’re twins today. I hope our patients don’t get confused!” This will let her know that you’ve noticed.

Also, make a point of praising anything she does or wears that is different from you. She is looking for some validation from you, and if she receives it, kindly, she should become more confident and develop her own style.

If your kindness doesn’t work, then you could be more direct: “This is awkward, but I have to be honest with you. I know I’m supposed to feel flattered, but sometimes it bothers me when you wear the same clothes as I do.”

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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