Why “Basic” Is a Problem

Dear “Basic White Girls” Everywhere (And Anyone Who Uses This Phrase),

I’ll be up front: I’ve been called basic, called other people basic, and have recently come to terms with how problematic this expression is.

If you’re not sure I’m speaking to you, this –stereotypically— may apply if you: own Uggs, riding boots, or a puffy vest, enjoy fall, have ordered a seasonal drink at Starbucks, do yoga, have a computer covered in stickers, own an iPhone… there are a million different, but insignificant, things that classify you as a basic girl. In fact, if you Google “basic,” this is one of the first results:

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Even if you do one (or all) of these things: what makes you so basic? Why is basic one of the key descriptive words that people would use to describe you where there are a million other options? Does anyone think that the drink you order at Starbucks is a defining facet of your personality? Is your favorite season more important than your personality?

When people say “basic girl,” they’re not really considering the ramifications of this phrase. When you call someone basic, you’re calling one specific action or choice of hers a fundamental or essential part of them, and if you call someone a “basic GIRL” you’re calling one specific action or choice a fundamental or essential part of women everywhere.

When people say “basic WHITE girl,” race gets brought into this, too. There is no race associated with using the heart eyes emoji, leaves in the fall, or Instagramming a picture of Chipotle or Panera. Being white shouldn’t make you basic and being a minority shouldn’t exclude you from activities that other women enjoy.

And when you call someone a “basic BITCH,” you’re describing one action or choice as something that makes her rude, unpleasant, or mean. If you’re using “bitch” as a synonym for “girl,” then you’ve fully misunderstood feminism.

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Let’s change our vocabulary. I admit it, I slip up. When you don’t think about it, basic is a funny, silly, and overused way to comment on someone’s behavior. However, at the root of it, being called basic is undeniably an insult. It’s being called conformist and overdone, conventional and unoriginal. It calls someone out for the little things, whether it’s the drink they order or the type of phone they use, and claiming it makes them part of an otherwise undistinguishable crowd of light-skinned women.

So go to your hot yoga class, drink your skinny mocha frap, wear your puffy vest with riding boots or your favorite Uggs and rejoice because while these are all valuable interests, likes, and hobbies, they do not encapsulate your personality.

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Sincerely,

A Girl Who Does These Things But Isn’t Basic

-Elena

 

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