Like a child speaking its first words, when I first learned the word “basic,” I didn’t stop using it for days. It rolled off my tongue so easily. It was the perfect word for me to describe everything, particularly teenage girls hanging out in hordes.
But what does basic even mean? I’ve said it so many times it doesn’t even sound like a real word anymore.
Urban Dictionary, my way to keep up with what the young kids are saying these days, defines “basic” in many different ways: an uncool thing, lacking intelligence, something obvious, the opposite of an acid (thanks, chem majors).
Here’s the one that most resembles my personal use: “Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.”
We see so many posts about girls being “basic bitches,” and the most resonating image of them is a girl wearing some variation of tunic-leggings-boots, drinking Starbucks, and talking about things like Forever 21 or Instagram or indie music. Except here’s the thing – right now I fit all of those qualities! I’m wearing a denim shirt and leggings and boots, I’m drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and I love Forever 21 and Instagram and indie music. Combine all three and I’m in nirvana.
I cringe, though, at the description of myself as “devoid of worth.” That’s essentially what the word basic means. When you look at me, you see the way I dress and the things I’m carrying, but you don’t see other things about my personality: my 3.6 GPA, my love of auto racing, my gigantic book collection, my hostess job, my journalism internship. Maybe I’m being self-important here, but there are so many things about myself that are worth talking about. Ask me about the time I worked at IHOP for a day, or when I joined Plenty of Fish and met the love of my life, or why I think NASCAR and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Let’s have a conversation about the conflict in Syria or what I think of post-modern literature. I have a lot of things to say and offer to the world, and those things should not be dismissed or undervalued just because of what I’m wearing or doing. Whatever happened to not judging a book by its cover?
I hereby apologize for all the times I’ve called someone basic. In fact, I apologize for ever judging someone before getting to know them. It’s hard to call myself out for this behavior, and it’s hard to think about not doing it, if I’m being honest. As a practice, prejudging people can be both life-saving and life-ruining.
Girls, let’s stop calling our fellow ladies “basic.” Let’s listen to them, give them a chance, and then form our opinions. It’s always okay not to like someone, but it’s not okay to dislike someone based on what we think they’re like.