Basic Isn’t Bad

The term “basic” is rooted in division and misogyny, and society should embrace both “basic” and “underground” interests.

Calling someone or something “basic” isn’t a targeted, well thought out attack—it’s just a throwaway word. It’s the misogyny and division in the ideology it supports that makes ‘_____ is so basic’ a phrase we should consider cutting out of our daily lexicon.

The word basic is used to describe a person, typically a girl, who likes media, fashions or anything else that is considered mainstream. One of the biggest current examples is people posting their Spotify Wrapped and getting mocked for it. If your top artist is Taylor Swift or The Weeknd or (insert name of immensely popular singer/band here). then you may be at risk of being immediately lumped in with a “group” of people who have nothing in common except that they’ve been labeled basic.

As Elizabeth Minkel from New Statesman eloquently puts it, “Why are screaming girls, overcome with excitement for a group they love, considered a punch line, the pinnacle of immaturity, and something extraordinarily shameful, when the largely male, adult crowds at sporting events openly weep, bellow, paint their naked bodies in bright colors, clutch each other, and even commit physical violence due to emotion, both when their teams lose and when they win?”

In fact, it’s hard to find something that teenage girls are allowed to like and still be seen in a positive light. As an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person, I’ve seen it and been hurt by it everywhere: this idea that nothing we like can be good enough. There’s an entire list of items that you can be labeled as “basic” for liking: Ugg boots, cropped sweatshirts, One Direction, Starbucks, the color pink, talking about guys, going to certain stores, watching romance movies, to name a few.

These so-called “basic” interests, along with other aspects of life, are made to be enjoyed, and yet they often aren’t- especially if you’re a teenager. I know I’ve shied away from sharing some of the things I enjoy because I’m scared of being mocked or getting the blank, slightly confused stare or perhaps the fake smile and the type of ‘oo-h’ that drags out and comes off as sarcastic and judgemental (you may know the one). It always makes me frustrated. If I have access to things that bring me joy, why can’t I enjoy them? Our generation, and all younger generations, can often be impressionable, and recent culture tells us to judge others for our own good. Common media tends to encourage people to only show what is deemed “the best,” in order to somehow prove that you’re living a better, more successful life than others. It hurts, wanting to talk about a certain book series I like or an activity I enjoy and deciding not to, just to be safe from judgment. And in fairness, I’ve been on the flipside. I’ve looked at people and judged them by what they wear, what they say, how they appear. No one is perfect, but I try my best, and we all should. No one likes that feeling of having to hide a part of who they are because of are taught to think.

The feeling of superiority that comes from thinking you’re not “basic” comes from the societally pushed idea that we have to fight each other, to put other people down, instead of embracing our differences. It’s the same thing with the flipside of “flexing” because you like things that aren’t basic- for example, people who brag about listening to more “underground” artists. The hard truth is: it. doesn’t. matter. It doesn’t matter if you listen to someone who has a small, dedicated fanbase or if you listen to a band that tops the charts every week. What matters is that you’re doing what makes you happy. People listen to music to lift up their day, to feel like someone understands whatever emotions they’re going through, to connect. People wear leggings and Uggs because they’re comfortable, pumpkin spice flavored drinks taste good, and what else matters? Instead of putting people down for a false sense of superiority, we should fight the societal norms that demand to be followed. People, as long as they don’t hurt anyone, should be able to do what brings them joy, regardless of it being “basic.”