BY GENNA NORDLING
The dictionary definition of the word “basic” is “of, relating to or forming the base or essence; fundamental.” When you Google “basic,” the Urban Dictionary definition is the first result and it is not the same definition.
According to Urban Dictionary, “basic” is used to insult people who only like mainstream things and therefore have no defining character traits or interests that make them worthy of attention. While this is true, it’s more accurate to say that it describes someone who only likes things that young women enjoy. In popular culture, the word is often used to depict a type of girl, one who loves to drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes, wears Ugg boots and shops at PINK by Victoria’s Secret. This person has been deemed as a “basic white girl.”
How can someone figure out a woman’s entire personality just by observing how they dress and their preferred coffee order? Just because a girl likes to wear boots and leggings because they are comfortable doesn’t mean they are unworthy of attention or have no other qualities to them.
But, the “basic white girl” is not the end of the ridicule. Recently, the internet has created new labels to make fun of young women. “VSCO girls” and “E-girls” are the most well-known labels that the popular social media app TikTok has sorted many teenage girls into.
How can someone figure out a woman’s entire personality just by observing how they dress and their preferred coffee order?
VSCO girls wear oversized shirts, Crocs, puka shell necklaces and carry a HydroFlask water bottle with them wherever they go. E-girls like to wear lots of chain necklaces, striped t-shirts and do makeup with a black heart or star under their eyes. When these two styles became popular amongst the young demographic that TikTok targets, girls who chose to dress like this were subject to unfair mockery by their peers.
Girls who carried water bottles with them couldn’t accidentally drop them without everyone around them shouting “SKSKSK,” a noise that was tied to the stereotype of a VSCO girl created by TikTok. Girls who like to do their makeup with little hearts were met with whispers about them in the halls asking “OMG, is she an E-girl?”
These girls shouldn’t be made fun of for liking things that are in style.
Popular things are popular for a reason. Pumpkin spice lattes taste good. Uggs are comfortable. The E-girl aesthetic looks cool. HydroFlasks are really good at keeping your drink cold. Why are girls made fun of for liking things that are good? The answer is sexism. Whether it’s apparent or not, ridiculing girls for liking things is deeply rooted in misogyny.
Whether it’s apparent or not, ridiculing girls for liking things is deeply rooted in misogyny.
In an article about bands who have a fan base mostly of teenage girls, Alexandra Pollard points out that in our society it’s believed that men control what is good and what is bad taste, while “young women’s enthusiasm is dismissed as a sort of mass hysteria, blocking their ability to discern good from bad.”
In our patriarchal society, women and young girls are still seen as objects and not actual people with emotions, ideas and interests. Everyone is searching for their “manic pixie dream girl,” a girl that’s “not like other girls” who solely exists to help the male protagonist’s character develop throughout the story. This is how women are seen. They are side characters in every man’s coming of age story. They should be unique, but not too unique.
This needs to end. Let young girls like things. Let people do things that make them happy, regardless of how mainstream or popular it is. As long as it isn’t harmful, people shouldn’t care what other people like to do. Don’t take off your puka shell necklace, oversized shirt or Crocs. Society needs to change, not you.
Photo courtesy of CNN