Lately I find myself having a similar conversation with all of my friends. We’re talking about our jobs, events we’ve been attending, people we have in common. Then it comes. That phrase. It almost feels inevitable at this point. "She's just so...basic," I literally cringe a little as I hear the words exit my mouth. I know its wrong, but it feels oh so right. It's a vanilla insult, like a little needle almost-unnoticeably sinking it's way in. But what makes "basic" ok? Or even further, is it damaging to call someone "basic"? We live in a world plagued by girls attacking one another, whether its out of insecurity, jealousy, or male approval. I see right through this when we throw around words like "slut", "fat", "ugly", and "bitch"--but why not "basic"?
I think one of the main reasons why “basic” is so effective is that it is so relative. It really depends on who’s saying it, and who receives it. You may be feeling basic yourself in a t-shirt, jeans, and booties one day, but when you see a girl in Uggs leaving Starbucks you’re like “Praise elastic-waistbands, I’m soooo not basic.” Lately, I’ve even noticed people reclaiming their basicness by hashtagging #basic on pictures of brunch, their Tory Burch flats, Michael Kors watches, etc. Again, is it then wrong to call someone basic if they themselves inhabit this space? At this rate are we being insulting, or just stating the obvious?
I think the real issue here is that putting others down really says more about the person saying it than it does the person who is being insulted. It is so easy to hate on someone because you think they’re mainstream, and then use this as a way to prop up how much cooler you are than them. This basic (pun intended) 5-letter word really does hold a lot of power because of this, and yet it doesn’t hold the same vulgar sting of its predecessors. However, I think the sentiment is still the same. I’m too confident to admit I’m actively insecure about things, but I passively use other people’s lack of coolness to confirm how awesome I am. Fucked up, right? I know, but don’t tell me you’re not doing it too. It’s pretty safe to say that “basic” is becoming the most basic insult out there, but where do we go from here?
Photography by Chelsea Mandell