What Does Basic Even Mean?

Pumpkin spice lattes

When someone calls you basic it stings. It is not just a small sting either, it is that long painful one that sticks with you for a while, causing you to question whether you possess any originality. But honestly is the label, basic, even a bad one?

We all follow trends whether they be from Tiktok, Instagram, our friend’s closet, other people, etc. And there are all sorts of categories of basic too, like Lululemon and pumpkin spice lattes basic, indie “alt” eyeliner basic, Jordans and baseball caps basic and the list goes on and on. Did you notice that every “basic” category mentioned has to do with girls?

Think about it…have you ever called a guy basic? I remember hanging out with one of my guy friends once and him mentioning how he hates that girls are always trying to be quirky and different even though they are all just basic. As he spoke, I stared at his white Nike hoodie, basketball shorts and Jordans and laughed. It is ironic that a guy who dresses the same as every other guy here judges girls for being basic.

However, I also believe that your view of what is considered basic depends on where you are. For instance, here at Western Reserve Academy, we possess a small wealthy liberal arts school vibe, so our basic tends to be more trendy and pricey. But back in my conservative Catholic school, the “basic” clothing there would be different, making what I wear here (which is considered basic at WRA) “alternative.” 

So here are my thoughts. If what is considered to be basic differs from place to place and only women seem to be called basic, then what even is basic? And if the word basic does not hold any credibility, then why do we as a society get so offended when someone calls us basic? Is everyone basic then? 

Why is being basic even considered a bad thing? Things are popular for a reason. For example, last week I tried a pumpkin spice latte for the first time and ACTUALLY ENJOYED IT. Wait Elba…but is that not a basic white girl drink? Yes, fellow reader, it is but you know what? I am going to own the fact that pumpkin spice lattes are surprisingly pretty good, Brandy Melville has some cute clothes despite being problematic and Converse are my favorite shoes. Honestly, at this point, I could care less about whether my tastes are considered basic or not. After all, words only hold meaning if you let them and now that we have uncovered just how convoluted the term basic can be, I would say that this “insult” does not mean anything unless you let it.

Elba Heddesheimer ’23

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