What Do You Really Mean When You Say Something Is Basic? Spread Girl Love, Not Hate.

basic pumpkin spiced latte

Autumn is coming, and we all know what that means. Endless jokes about white girls in yoga pants drinking pumpkin spiced lattes and instagramming leaves.

These girls, or so the internet claims, adore scented candles and Zumba classes and think that the TV show ‘New Girl’ could just be about their lives. They are, apparently, ‘Basic Bitches’.

As with most labels you can stick on a woman, there are two predetermined reactions to this. Those who identify as male are supposed to find this a source of amusement and make every attempt to avoid dating such a specimen. Those who identify as women must endeavour to never be one, lest they lose their ‘bad bitch’ status.

As time has gone on, the symptoms of basicness have increased to wearing cut-off jeans, drinking Prosecco and abusing hashtags such as #blessed. It’s then that you realise that basicness isn’t some weird unheard-of thing in a far corner of the web. It’s everywhere. It’s annoying.

All your friends are basic.

You are basic.

Except, love, you’re not.

So you love a pretty tea cup and you say you’re ‘spiritual, not religious’. You have a Pinterest account and have visited at least one of the 23,305+ Starbucks shops on this planet. You are, in fact, a person who sees something, decides they like it and then rolls with it. Just because it happens to be what everyone else likes doesn’t make you some kind of inferior default setting with no actual personality.

So, what is ‘basic’ness really about?

Honestly, it’s just another way of policing and shaming women’s choices. The basic b!tch ticks a few boxes of a stereotyped vanilla madam (who may do something really wild if she gets raging drunk, like kiss a girl on the lips for a second and then giggle) and then creates the image of a woman not worth your time. You don’t need to get to know her. She’s there already, in fifty of your Facebook friends instagramming their low-fat but still yummy dessert (#froyo) wearing tiny shorts and a huge woolly hat. She’s probably white (but doesn’t have to be) and is almost certainly #blessed by not having to deal with poverty, class issues or lack of education.

She’s the girl that some other women feel obliged to hate. Because her basicness makes her easy to understand, and easier for a wide range of people to relate to? She’s the girl we’re supposed to point at and say “but I’m a BADASS bitch. I drink pints. I don’t straighten my hair. What the heck is froyo anyway?” She’s the image we create and perpetuate to make ourselves more interesting.

Or maybe she is all of us? Haven’t we all considered buying that Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster, and don’t we all love a good hot drink on a chilly day? The basic bitch should be held up as a sign that we’re actually not so flipping different. We’re all human. And can we please, please stop referring to each other as ‘bitches’ for no reason.

Saying something is basic can be an example of girl hate – either towards someone else, or even towards yourself. Don’t belittle your pleasures. It’s not only good but a necessity to recognise and enjoy the things that bring you pleasure.

And finally, for an all-round view, read this piece from Clutch Magazine on how white people have appropriated the phrase ‘basic bitches’. It covers how the term is an example of cultural appropriation that is not used by many newcomers to the phrase in its original intended sense. This link helps to track where ‘basic’ turned into a generic term.

Trigger warning though: One of the early examples in that link is a comedian shouting some pretty rancid things in his bathroom about things he thinks make a black woman a ‘basic bitch’, one of them being withdrawing consent before sex.