Value-Added Worth and Commodifying the Invaluable

Ifeanacho MaryAnn
4 min readJun 25, 2023

A while ago, on Elon Daberechi Musk’s Twitter, a vendor that I follow posted pictures of the dresses she makes. Stunning is so inadequate an adjective to describe the dresses in question. To take things up a notch, the tailor/vendor gave the clothes names.

Not style names. She named them after actual people.

As expected, the clothes were not cheap. I think the most affordable of the lot went for ₦60,000. Her comments section was filled with people oohing, ahh-ing, and yass-ifying her creations. However, one comment stood out.

“Na why I no dey like all these people wey dey name clothes. Them go name dress Mkpurumma, carry the price hang for one place.”

Know your worth and add tax.

This is one mantra of our 2020s, Gen Z-obsessed, self-loving, personal development-focused realities. We all believe we have worth, are enough as we are, and deserve all the good things we have and want to have-rightly so. Amid this drone of self-help platitudes is the core belief that nothing is beyond our reach so far as we can dream it. In a world that plucks the stars from our eyes and leaches us of basic human optimism early in life, these mantras become mental pick-me-ups that help us put in an extra unit of effort each day.

But is there a line between knowing your worth and exploiting others? Is there really a metric to know which products and services are deserving of the tax-inclusive values attached to them? What makes an “Mkpurumma” dress more expensive than an anonymous dress of the same physical and aesthetic value?

One sentiment parroted off in professional circles and LinkedIn spaces is this idea that one is not being paid for the service they are delivering but for all the training (degrees, certification courses, hands-on experience) they received that made them a maestro of their craft. Thus, when you pay a 2D animator for a character sketch, you are not just paying for that singular blue-haired, Disney-esque character they drafted, you are paying for all the time spent learning the distinction between light and shade, final…

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Ifeanacho MaryAnn

Storyteller, Long Distance Cat Mom. A quiet voice rambling in an isolated corner of the internet. I write on psychology, films, books and my random thoughts