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Why NOT to Call a Girl Basic

“Sorry for being basic!” I said to my girlfriends in the middle of a hip coffee shop, while I stood above the table taking an Instagram-worthy picture of my latte art. As I sat down, I immediately realized that I had just contributed to a thought-provoking subject. 

The term, “basic” can be defined by many different elements. A user on Urban Dictionary defines it as, “used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.” Ouch. What are some characteristics in young women that hint at basic-ness? From my own studying, I’ve found that the following are examples: wearing leggings (specifically Lululemon), drinking oversized Starbucks drinks, taking selfies or pictures of food, shopping at Brandy Melville, eating fro-yo, ordering chicken at Chipotle, watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, knowing the lyrics to any Taylor Swift song, having a Pinterest and/or a Tumblr account, eating smoothie bowls at places like Growl or Sunlife, and owning a white iPhone. At least one of these pertains to you, yes? More than one? Don’t worry, me too.

So what’s the problem with referring to anyone as “basic”? It’s the same as calling someone out for being in any stereotype. Specifically, the term basic can make a girl feel unimportant and uninteresting. Aubrey ’18 said, “I feel degraded when I’m called basic. I am a creative individual who has their own original way of thinking and dressing.” Each and every person is unique. Sure, we all may listen to Taylor Swift after a bad breakup. When it’s November, I may order a pumpkin spice latte to help me get into the season’s spirit. But that does not mean that I am the same as everyone else. I watch Gossip Girl and The Notebook like many other teenager girls, but if you ask me about my beliefs and my goals in life, they’re extremely different than the girl right next to me.

By calling ourselves “basic”, we make it okay for others to do so. Caroline ’18 said, “the worst part about being called basic is not only do men use the word in order to insult women, women use it to insult each other. If men are making fun of us, and women are making fun of each other, how are we ever going to be comfortable just being ourselves?” I’ve had guy friends and boyfriends comment on my Instagram selfies calling me out. When on a date, the guy asked me about my taste in music. I said, “well I do have my basic side where I like Taylor Swift…” This is where we stop. There is nothing wrong with being basic. But by making it known and maybe even apologizing for it, we are literally describing ourselves as plain. Megan, ’18, said, “I think it’s a no-win situation. If you like things that are popular you’re basic, but if you’re into things that aren’t popular people have something negative to say about that too. And everyone is a little basic because let’s be honest, no one doesn’t like Starbucks and if it’s cold Uggs feel like walking on snuggly kittens.” 

Basic-ness is not the issue; the problem revolves around stereotyping and the toleration. We accept ourselves for who we are and what we like. Remember that the next time you’re taking an Instagram-selfie and are feeling judged by the guys walking past you. Your hair looks good and you’re in a good mood, there’s no problem with taking a picture. Remember that the next time you’re jamming in the car with your best friends, blasting Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez. You’re doing you. Never apologize for that, and never make yourself small. The bottom line is do not let this stereotype stop you from being who you are, and do not define yourself or others as unoriginal.

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