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It’s about time we leave the ‘basic’ label behind

Lily Chen / The SPOKE

By Lily Chen, Design Editor

“She drinks Starbucks and wears Lululemon — how basic!”

People have a history of using the term “basic” as an insult to describe people who buy brands that are so popular among female audiences that they seem tasteless and dull. According to the data gathering site Statista, the label “basic” gained popularity on social media around the mid-2010s, with a rise in usage coinciding with  the significant growth of Instagram and Tumblr.

Even after many social media users shifted their activity to newer platforms like TikTok, they still utilize the term to describe many of the same products. From its associations with UGG boots to Starbucks drinks, basic is as relevant as ever. It is also as problematic as ever.

While basic may seem like a lighthearted term, labeling someone as basic is usually a form of judgment that confines them to a harmful stereotype. The term is often associated with privileged white girls and supports the stereotype that traditionally feminine “dumb blondes” are obsessed with conforming to trends, and thus, have no unique qualities worth acknowledging. It also suggests that their interests lack depth and meaningfulness.

Not only does calling someone basic overlook the complexity of their individuality, but the insult also reinforces the idea that it is okay to make fun of things that are inherently “girly.” These microaggressions pave the way for casual misogyny.

Some may claim that it is reasonable to use “basic” as an insult when it describes rejecting cultural heritage for a mainstream identity. For example, to align with what is popular in white culture, someone who is not white may feel the need to suppress their personal cultural backgrounds or they may feel ashamed of them. In these cases, calling them basic criticizes their alleged neglect of their cultural roots.

Describing girls who are not white as basic devalues their cultural identities by suggesting that they are whitewashed, meaning they have assimilated into mainstream white society at the expense of their cultural heritage.

However, basing a claim that someone has renounced their heritage based only on what they are wearing or what they buy is problematic.

Society should not normalize judging someone’s personality and identity based on appearance. As with any outdated trend, it’s time to ditch using basic.

Lily Chen can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Lily Chen
Lily Chen, Co-News Editor
Lily Chen is a sophomore and the Design Editor of The Spoke. She designs graphic spreads, covers community events and 'Stoga sports, and has a passion for photography. Outside of the newsroom, she is a member of many clubs at Conestoga, including Speech and Debate and HOSA.