October 16, 2014

"Over the past year, we have arrived at an odd cultural and lexicographical moment: To dress 'normal' is the height of chic, yet to call someone 'basic' is the chicest put-down..."

"Basic, according to the BuzzFeed quizzes and CollegeHumor videos that wrested the term from the hip-hop world and brought it into the realm of white-girl-on-white-girl insults, means someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings. She likes yogurt and fears carbs (there is an exception for brunch), and loves her friends, unless and until she secretly hates them. She finds peplum flattering and long (or at least shoulder-grazing) hair reliably attractive. She exercises in various non-bulk-building ways, some of which have inspired her to purchase special socks for the experience. She bought the Us Weekly with Lauren Conrad’s wedding on the cover. She Pins. She runs her gel-manicured hands up and down the spine of female-centric popular culture of the last 15 years, and is satisfied with what she feels. She doesn’t, apparently, long for more."

From "What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic Bitch'?," in New York Magazine.

23 comments:

Brando said...

You have to understand, when kids say "bad" they mean "good", and when they say "shake your booty" they mean to wiggle one's butt. Permit me to demostrate...

Carol said...

There is a lot of sameness among women. then again there are the guys in shorts and designer ballcaps.

Maybe it's adaptive behavior.

MayBee said...

Who says "Basic Bitch"?

traditionalguy said...

Womens is lazy.

Once Dressing required shopping, color matching, hair styling with coloring, nails and toes, dry cleaning and the picking right shoes from among hundreds. Most people I knew only added on to their houses to triple the woman's closet space.

Does Meade thing that past will come back?

mccullough said...

New York is the most provincial town in the US

Brando said...

"Who says "Basic Bitch"?"

I'm guessing it's some tween millenial thing. They probably say it when they aren't getting off my damn lawn.

"There is a lot of sameness among women. then again there are the guys in shorts and designer ballcaps."

That's always been the way--you see groups of people on the street in similar ages and socio-ecomomic statuses, and they dress very similarly. No one wants to look too out of place.

I don't really get the point of the article--is it that young women are pushing too much plain conformity, while at the same time criticizing too much plain conformity? Maybe it's a self-hatred thing, or faux humility--"look how plain and boring we are with our pumpkin spice lattes and yoga pants!"

Too each his own, though--there have been far worse trends over the years.

April Apple said...

Yogurt is high carb.

tim in vermont said...

Where can I meet this "basic bitch" she sounds charming. As long as she doesn't insist I watch Bravo with her

Ann Althouse said...

"Yogurt is high carb."

There is an exception for brunch,

paminwi said...

Egads! The crap that is written these days and the disappointment that Althouse does a blog post about it.

mikee said...

Today I learned what a peplum is.

My wife has several. I called them dresses all this time, silly me.

That is what comes of not being au courant to the standards of NY Mag.

I can live with this failure, and expect it to impact my life less than a butterfly fluttering its wings in China right now.

David said...

Basic Bitch?

Projecting perhaps, ladies?

Balfegor said...

The conclusion here:

And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn’t sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation.

Is really reaching. I don't think either of these things follow at all. If anything, if one assumes the description of "basic bitch" in the article to be correct, it's almost the reverse: that the critics are rejecting a strictly gender-delineated culture by criticizing those who unthinkingly embrace it, and that what they are criticizing is not the superficial expression of the self, but -- more nastily -- the underlying, unworthy self that is expressed through these superficial epiphenomena.

All that said, the "basic bitch" actually sounds like a fairly pleasant, normal sort of person. For all the criticism that the sentimental and twee corners of pop culture get for being "soulless" and "commercial," the truth is that these scraps of pop culture move more people, have more meaning for people, are at their core, more human, than la-di-dah artsy films and modern literature.

Freeman Hunt said...

I spend most of my time in a culture where there are no girl-on-girl insults, so I'd never heard of this, but it did make me laugh. It's so common, so identifiable, and the insult is so mean! Certainly one imagines that the basic person would cry if identified as such, and she is generally nice and well-meaning, so it would be better to never mention it.

Julie C said...

Is there a male equivalent for this? Is it "tool" or "douche"?

Women can be vicious, in that sweet, smiling subtle way. We own that. Men don't really have that knack.

Anonymous said...

I can't hear it without going in the way back machine to the KLYMAXX "Meeting in the Ladies' Room" days with "I hate to become a BW or Basic Woman, but if they don't stop, it's going to get scandalous."

AFAIK, it started off as a common insult coming from black guys (to add more insult "bitch") and was flung at cute, but normal girls as a form of ego-recovery because the girls, despite being not being supermodels, nevertheless weren't giving the guys enough or any attention.

It had a much more misogynistic overtone in that context. Still not a good idea to pick it up just to get mean girl points, but whatever. It's your funeral.

Anonymous said...

*Fixed.

Freeman Hunt said...

Still not a good idea to pick it up just to get mean girl points, but whatever. It's your funeral.

Are there any young-young people at this blog? Surely no one reading this post would need this warning.

Or is this something adults say? I assumed it was a young people thing.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think they're actually here to read it, but that doesn't stop me from subjecting the non-existent, young-young people in the article to mild chastisement in my mind/comment.

What, is that bad form? ;)

Freeman Hunt said...

No, no, not bad form. It made me wonder if there were non young-young people who needed it.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Balfegor writes: "For all the criticism that the sentimental and twee corners of pop culture get for being "soulless" and "commercial," the truth is that these scraps of pop culture move more people, have more meaning for people, are at their core, more human, than la-di-dah artsy films and modern literature."
Right. Reminds me of a discussion about two office buildings, IIRC one in LA and one in the pacific NW somewhere. One was designed, and importantly, had its interior arrangements made by a couple of prominent architects. Let's call it "AD". The other was a fairly vanilla structure, and its interior arrangements were designed, and could be changed, by the people who worked there. Call it "PD"
Naturally, the AD was award-winning, and the PD was not. Also (unexpectedly! even though this is not Instapundit), occupant surveys showed PD to be very much more conducive to happiness and productivity, than AD.
Boy, I never saw THAT coming.
(E.g. ask my daughter about how hard it is to find a restroom in the Stata Center at MIT, a Frank Gehry design.)

Fred Drinkwater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Drinkwater said...

Julie writes: "Women can be vicious, in that sweet, smiling subtle way."
You know the joke where the tag line is "That's nice, that's real nice."? (Southern belle accent optional but recommended.)