For Sale: Originality

Clothing sale in window Photo by Artem Bali from Pexels

On the bus I saw an ad for a vintage clothing store that read “Where originals originate.” I wanted to be just as cool as the models oozing confidence and style, but something about the slogan seemed off. How could buying some clothes transform an average person into an original one?

Well, assuming the store sells unique clothing, wearing the physical manifestation of someone else’s original ideas does not grant you originality, just as owning books, the physical manifestation of others’ intelligence, does not make you intelligent (although reading them may). In an alternate universe where objects transfer their creators’ characteristics to their owners, mainstream use of an original product would negate its originality. Sure, you could choose unique combinations of clothing, but that proves that originality comes from you, not from objects. Originality emerges from your choices, ideas and insights. You cannot buy, sell, or otherwise transfer it. It is an abstract concept that corporations are attempting to capitalize on.

And it’s not just originality that companies are selling you; advertisers are constantly trying to convince you that you are not attractive enough, not confident enough, not unsatisfied enough, but buy their products and you will be happier than you ever imagined. Artifacts cannot build your character for you. Objects are just objects, and any meaning they hold are projected on to them by us.

I’m not trying to single out this clothing store – I fully support giving new life to second-hand items. But don’t try to fill a fabricated void with products. You are original. You are enough. There are an infinite number of genetic combinations possible1 and there is only one you.

Crowd of celebrating children Photo by Min An from Pexels

  1. Or more precisely: 3 x 10614 combinations.
Written on July 31, 2018