When I Became Basic
Judging girls (or guys) for embracing conformity is just as ignorant as judging them for embracing non-conformity. So don’t do it.
By Mallory Arnold, Ohio University
The first time someone called me basic I thought it was a compliment.
After gloating for a few fleeting moments, I learned that apparently it was not.
Basic, as every literate person knows, means fundamental or part of an essential foundation. In simple terms, basic means key to making something work. So as this grumpy cat of a girl sat across from me at our cafe table, I was pretty humbly happy.
“Thanks!” I chirped.
She popped a bubblegum bubble and shoved her glasses back up onto the bridge of her nose.
“No, like…” She leaned forward and laughed a little. “You’re basic.”
Once I figured out that she was trying to demean me, I shoved my red face into my coffee mug and tried to ignore her. What did she know? She was wearing glasses.
That didn’t have any lenses in them.
I know why people call others “basic,” really I get it. I’m not ignorant to the stereotype that some people draw upon. Usually the word is aimed more so at girls, which unfortunately doesn’t help the never-ending cycle of poor self image in women.
The term is centered around girls who love the trends. The ones who can’t stop watching The Bachelor, who have vials to inject pumpkin spice lattes in their veins and are obsessed with Taylor Swift (who in my opinion, needs to back off Harry Styles).
And, yes, these things can be funny to point out and scarily accurate at times. But the thing is, you can’t just go around willy nilly and stamp someone with “basic” because she’s wearing a shirt from a popular store rather than a hand-woven sweater from the tiny shack in the back alley way of downtown. You can’t blame someone for buying the easier option rather than that jacket from the mountains of Armenia.
Truth of the matter is, there is a good portion of people these days who try so hard to be different that it’s frustrating to them when someone looks like they don’t care about catching everyone’s eye as they walk down the street. Doll, I get that you’re trying to be unique, but don’t brag about how vintage you are when that sweater you said was from a flea market was actually purchased online at J-CREW for $130 dollars. I like my fake Uggs. They’re comfy okay? Leave me alone!
To be fair, people have tried to explain it to me before.
“You just look like you’re trying too hard to look like you’re not trying.”
“Your sorority shirts look like you’re fake.”
“It’s like there are a million of your kind out there.”
“You have a pH greater than 7.”
Okay, not that last one. But you can gather these together and store them away in a little notebook so that they’re easy to look back up later. So in case you need to define a person real quick, just decide if they’re basic or not.
Yes, Instagram selfies and Zumba classes can make a girl a little more susceptible to be poked and prodded at, but there’s no need to judge someone entirely based upon that fact. Get to know her first. Once you become her friend, then you can rag her on those dancing work out classes. (Kidding. But really, I hate those things.)
Movie star Emma Stone has been slammed with the word over and over again. After taking enough heat, she laughed it off and now calls herself the “Bland Basic Bitch” as to not let it get to her. Because let’s be honest—that girl is seriously everyone’s WomenCrushWednesday, and definitely not bland.
One day I woke up and I was basic. Why? Because I threw on one of my favorite light blue school t-shirts and decided to put on yoga pants to be comfy, since I was exhausted from studying late last night. Then after that, I slipped into my converse while yanking a North Face around my body because it was damn cold and those things make you feel like a majestic tundra fox.
But as soon as I stepped outside I was pegged by some as “basic.”
Happy in my own skin? You bet.
There has always been a support system for those who “dare to be different.” Sometimes, people who look and act a little outlandish get unfair treatment or are verbally attacked. Which sucks. So why, is it okay to attack someone for not being your definition of “different?” There’s a thin line between conforming too much and being way too out there.
While the #daretobedifferent hashtags are being used to encourage uniqueness and the freedom to be who you are, girls on the front line turn their backs to attack the “basic bitches.” Social media is cluttered with slogans like “down with basic bitches” and “Burn basic bitches.”
Our society is like a little man standing on a very big box, throwing flowers and gummy candies to everyone while promoting love and the freedom to “be who you want to be.” All the while, there is a long, yellowing list of rules and regulations nailed to the back door:
You can be whoever you want to be…. except the following. Don’t be these.
Let’s not pretend we’re a judgment-free zone when in reality everywhere people are shamed for how they look: too hipster or too basic. Too goth or too preppy. Too fat or too skinny. Too furry or too naked. (Shoutout to my bald Sphinx cats. Animals have feelings too OK.)
C’mon, people. Can we please just get our act together? There’s enough problems in the world without us running around insulting and judging each other.
So let’s cut it out.