The first time I heard the term “basic bitch” was a few years back—my friends and I were at the club when an acquaintance of mine bragged about wearing sneakers to a party, unlike all “the other basic bitches in the room” who were clad in heels. As a petite girl, I stared down at my own three-inch stilettos and wondered, “Am I a basic bitch?” Soon after, the term quickly caught on, and I’ve heard friends hurl “basic bitch” as an insult, like somehow you were less of a person if you were “basic.”
But what exactly does it mean to be a basic bitch? Like all other slang words, “basic” seems to be the millennial evolution of calling someone an “airhead” (the much more familiar term, I guess). Based on Buzzfeed and Urban Dictionary definitions, “basic” refers to white women, stereotypically blonde, who like mainstream facets of pop culture: they like pumpkin spice lattes and Uggs; they listen to mainstream pop stars like Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande; they worship social media celebrities like the Kardashians; and they’re obsessed with Instagramming their food and Snapchatting their every move.
In the Philippines, though, it’s too hot for Uggs and somehow pumpkin spice hasn’t made its way to this side of the world yet. However, there are certain identifiable markers we can relate to. Like being obsessed with your Instagram feed, or posting every single activity we did today on Snapchat or IG stories. I’ve witnessed people I knew throw the “basic bitch” comment in hushed tones whenever a girl would walk by dressed like a fast fashion store’s mannequin display, or with her makeup done like Kylie Jenner on Instagram. There’s also an instant connotation when you group girls together as “basic bitches”: vapid, shallow girls incapable of creating their own individuality as they worship anything and everything that’s mainstream.
And that’s exactly what’s wrong with the term.
Calling someone a “basic bitch” disregards the person as a whole and strips her of her unique qualities, reducing her to nothing more than a reviled stereotype. As for those who are afraid of being branded as “basic,” we tend to be ashamed of the things we like, even though these are the things that make us who we are. By allowing ourselves to be scared of being called “basic,” we’re letting others rob us of our identities and how multi-faceted we are as beings. The fact is, it’s completely possible to like Ariana Grande and be obsessed about my Instagram feed, as well as care about the country, be passionate about film and literature, and just about everything else that makes me a complex, dynamic individual. At this day and age, we should be celebrating all the traits that make us who we are — “basic” features, included.
Plus, news flash: everyone has a little bit of basic in them. It’s just simply impossible to live in a world devoid of mainstream trends. Why the word “basic” is even being vilified doesn’t make sense, as we literally thrive on basics: from the perfect white shirt to a classic, versatile lipstick. Basics are based on reliability and timelessness. (Now that I think about it, maybe “basic” should even be considered as a compliment!)
However, those are just addressing what’s problematic about the word “basic.” Calling someone a “bitch,” on the other hand, completely derides women and is downright offensive. Being called a “bitch” has long been meant as an insult towards strong-willed, “aggressive” women who don’t fit the meek and prim stereotype society deems women to be. Especially when it’s a woman doing the name-calling to another woman, it does nothing to help uplift women.
Live and let live. As Nadine Lustre says, come on guys, it’s 2017: we should know better than to place people in a box and judge them for what they like.