Insecurity Competes, Confidence Empowers: Lessons in the Shine Theory

When you feel copied, remember that people can only go where you have already been, they have no idea what where you are going next. 
— Liz Lange

Let’s be honest, being in the creative business is not all fun and games. In addition to the hard work, lots of late nights and the harsh criticism, there’s also putting your work on the worldwide web which can cause copycats to come knocking on your door. 

They’re climbin’ in your windows, snatching your content up, tryna take it so y’all need to hide your quotes, hide your branding and hide your photos, cuz they taking everything out here. *Antoine Dodson voice*

The feeling sucks, having had something of yours copied that you worked extremely hard to create. You start to think of your work as your baby.  You become extremely protective and want to know its’ whereabouts at all times. 

When I find myself in situations like these, which over these past few years have been quite often, I always find myself asking the same question: was Oscar Wilde on one when he said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”?

Face it; everyone has been inspired by someone and when l eventually turn old and grey, I would hope that me and my work could’ve inspired someone too. However, inspiration and imitation are two very different things and when someone copies the same web layout, bio verbiage, original photographs and artwork and use them as their own without any credit (which might I add actually happened to me), that’s just lame!

Maybe you’re looking to work or are currently working in the creative industry and have been discouraged about showing your work to the public; brace yourself because you’re going to have to deal with copycats all the time. Be sure not to beat yourself up over their insecurity and lack of creativity. Allowing these copycats to get in your head and get you down every time something like this happens only means you don’t really have what it takes to be in the industry either. Pick your battles, be confident and always stay ahead of the game.


I’ll admit though, I was once on the other side. I’ve been insecure in thinking my ideas would never be good enough on their own, and I lacked all confidence in my work. Looking back now, my advice to my old self and other female business women and creatives who can relate is quite simple, in fact, it can be put into two words: SHINE THEORY.

Coined by journalist Ann Friedman, the Shine Theory is essentially a response to competitive womanhood. She writes “When we meet women who seem happier, more successful, and more confident than we are, it’s all too easy to hate them for it. It means there’s less of us.” Her solution? “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”


Sounds easy right? Don’t worry; befriending someone who intimidates you only seems hard because you put them on a pedestal. Remember, one woman’s success is not another woman’s failure. If you start believing that they are your equal, beautiful things can happen.

Instead of copying your role model or someone who inspires you, reach out! Really inspired by the rebrand of her website? Tell her! Want her opinion on a new project you’re working on? Ask her! Sure enough, she’ll motivate you and push you to succeed. The same goes for those who have been copied. Rather than staying mad, kill your copycat with kindness. Send them a supportive message and empower them. Trust me, they’ll be shocked to hear from you! There’s no need to compete when no one can do what you do, the way you do it. You'll soon find out that the benefits of the shine theory are endless. There’s enough success to go around so why not celebrate our successes a little more?


Girl Code, Cara Alwill Leyba, Shine Theory, Shine Theory: Why powerful women make the greatest friends, What is ‘Shine Theory’ (and how can it benefit your social life?)

Avarie Graham