“Why would a person want to spend the same amount of money on a fake luxury label, rather than on a genuine Hidesign bag?” mused Dilip Kapur, owner of the popular leather brand, as we talked about society ladies with a penchant for Chinese knockoffs. This conversation set me thinking: What is ‘genuine’? Why is it so important for (many of) us to be associated with a genuine product? In fact, the desire to ‘appear’ genuine is so strong for (many others of) us, that we are actually willing to pay a premium on the price of a regular handbag to own a regular handbag with a fake luxury brand logo. But, as Kapur said, if we are spending that much to appear genuine, why not just get something that is really genuine at the same price?
The word genuine owes its origin to the Roman custom of a man placing his newborn on his knee while acknowledging paternity. It is linked with ‘birth’ and ‘race’. But it’s one thing to be a genuine pair of shoes; when applied to a human being made of flesh, blood, memories and quirks, this adjective becomes gloriously vague. No one can really define who a ‘genuine person’ is. It could be that they are clear about their priorities and expectations. Or not. It could be that they value their own worth and respect themselves. Or not. It could be that they are outgoing and exude a friendly air. Or not. There is really no pinpointing who these people are and where they come from. There are all kinds of genuine. This is one of those descriptors that says much without saying anything at all. Like ‘nice’.
And yet, don’t we often choose to employ, or date, or marry someone not based on their background and qualifications but simply because they come across as ‘genuine’? Don’t we often base our workplace decisions – which are supposed to be clinical, rational and deliberate – on something as shadowy as finding someone ‘genuine’ enough to do it?
When I really, genuinely search inside myself for why I would want a genuine bag or a genuine colleague, the answer is a natural affinity for truth. When a product or a person professes to be something it or he or she is not, then my mind labels it a ‘lie’. Genuine products and people do have something that resonates with something deep inside us. Ultimately, no matter what you say (or think) you are, your truth will eventually parade itself in broad daylight.
But then, you, my dear reader, have nothing to worry about. Do you?
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