basic4 I'm going to write this post right this second and publish it, because at the rate "Basic Bitch" is blowing up the internet, it will be "basic" itself on Tuesday afternoon. But I have to write it, because I've been tagged and emailed approximately a dozen times with "Basic Bitch" items. Everyone knows I'm a connoisseur. I was a Basic Bitch. I was surrounded by Basic Bitches. I had the Basic Bitch virus, and somehow, I was cured, and I survived. I know the Basic Bitch. I know her territory, likes, interests and background. And I know that the Basic Bitch isn't just the butt of a joke. It's far more serious than that. "Basic Bitch" is a succinct, pithy title for the vague concept I've been writing about for the past six months. It's what I was talking about when I published, The Stunning Similarity of Every Reply I Got to My Ad for a Room for Rent in Gramercy, which I now know should be titled, Basic Bitches Love Gramercy, Ugh. It's also what I was lampooning with The Curse of the Mid-Twenties, Middle Class White Girl. (Though people thought I was serious. I guess I shouldn't have been so subtle.) I mean, wow! I could have summarized my views up so quickly if I had had access to this phrase.
The thing is, I think everyone is getting the Basic Bitch wrong. Sure it's fun to catalogue her likes. As if, when you spot a Basic Bitch out on the Lower East Side, or Meatpacking, or Midtown at 9:15 am on a weekday, you could identify her the way you can tell a leopard from a cheetah by it's particular pattern of spots. Except in the Basic Bitch's case, what she's wearing, and what's she's tweeting about. (#Caffeine, obvs.) And yes, some of these things are useful heuristics. But with the sheer number of Basic Bitches items--and multiplying--everyone likes something that is basic. I, for example, go to Soul Cycle. I'm not obsessed (please play more deep house, Soul Cycle, pleeassse), but it really does give me a good workout. I also sometimes like to eat arugula salads with goat cheese. I love rooftops. I try to eat kale more often. All my friends have a little basic in them, too. I have a friend who's taste in music is super basic. But she's also travelled to almost 50 countries. That's bad bitch behavior, thank you. A certain founder of a certain startup revealed the other night that she likes the show RevengeShe's also been featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine. Yup, she's a bad bitch. People have been describing Basic Bitches as sort of naive, hapless and harmless victims of their own ignorance. Hey, the general understanding goes, they're just stupid chicks who have no imagination and likes what everyone else likes. But if this were true, that Basic Bitches float along in their own haze of ignorance, and we can all go about our business doing creative interesting things without them, then I really wouldn't give a second thought to them. (Hold on, I need to take some deep breaths because my hands are shaking. I feel strongly about this. OK, ready to go on.) There's two things you need to know about a Basic Bitch: 1. The Basic Bitch is in her attitude. 2. Basic Bitches ruin lives. The Basic Bitch doesn't suck because she likes boring things. That's just a byproduct. Symptoms of the larger problem, if you will. She sucks because she likes boring things, and she is on a campaign to tear down anyone that has the audacity to like interesting, new, different, intelligent, serious things. The Basic Bitch can be most easily identified by her attitude, which is "Ew, what is that?"
Basic Bitch: A female who hates and is on a mission to destroy anything or anyone different than her.
Look, I usually don't hate on people. It's really hard for me to hold a grudge. Whenever someone is a complete and utter dick to me, I try to see it from their perspective. "Well, crazy lady on the train who is calling me, 'fucking fat lollipop head,' I'm sure you've been struggling with some personal issues, so I won't take that personally." But Basic Bitches deserve my lifelong derision and ire. Because Basic Bitches have been calling people names--slut, whore, weirdo, creep, nerd, annoying, ugly, terrible, fat--all their life. It's about time we had a word that we can fire back. Basic Bitches are all those girls in high school in college that told you you were weird. She's the one who made you feel like shit for being different. She's the one who rolled her eyes when you participated in class. You thought the subject matter was interesting, but the Basic Bitch isn't interested in learning anything, and doesn't think you should be either. If you ever try to talk about something other than fashion or Starbucks with a Basic Bitch, she yawns and says, "This is so heavy, can we stop?" She thinks you're annoying because you're passionate about issues other than the Kardashians. The Basic Bitch is the one who told you that you were being "creepy," when you took up photography and tried to catch some candids at a party. You want to take a picture of her doing something besides the sorority squat, because you have an interest in art. She disagrees. Sorority squats every. single. time. And by the way, she untagged every photo of her that is not from that perfect angle because, ew, art. The Basic Bitch is the one who called you "such a slut, ew" behind your back for experimenting sexually, and hence fucked up your view of sexuality for the next seven years. (And when I say "experimenting", I mean doing anything other than missionary with a male. Yes, men, Basic Bitches are why your current girlfriend won't let you even suggest the possibility of maybe, someday, even after you put a ring on it, having anal sex.) The Basic Bitch is the one that relentlessly derided you for dating a foreigner. Nevermind it was the best sex of your life. Basic Bitches only date current or former fraternity boys, and anyone who goes out of that box clearly doesn't have high enough standards. And is a slut. So you dumped that really nice foreigner who actually took the time to talk to you and look at you, and went back to dating frat guys who couldn't interact with you without the benefit of beer. Don't even think about being a lesbian or bi-curious. Your Basic Bitch friends will tolerate makeout sesh's in front of dudes, but if you actually find a girl attractive? That Basic Bitch will tell everyone you're a lezzie and suddenly, you have no friends. The Basic Bitch also made you feel terrible for interacting with non-Basic Bitches. Basic Bitches strongly believe in the idea of social cooties. That if you interact with someone who is not super-basic, you will catch the nerd virus and your life will be utterly ruined. It's clever, really. You interact with only Basic Bitches who make you feel like shit, but if you interact with anyone who is authentic and accepting, your Basic Bitch friends will make you feel even more like shit. The Basic Bitch is like an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Says she loves you, but really just wants to control you by tearing your self esteem up into little pieces on an almost daily basis.

Why I Personally Loathe Basic Bitches

Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Why yes, yes I do. I feel like I am finally free of Basic Bitches, but it wasn't always that way. In fact, I was a Basic Bitch myself. I was born a curious person. As a kid, I tramped around in the woods at least three times a week. I read anything I could get my hands on, starting with the political cartoons in Newsweek when I was 6 years old. I loved art class and when we went on family vacation, I carried my art kit with me. I dressed however I pleased, and fought back against my sister when she tried to teach me how to pluck my eyebrows. I think I was literally the least popular girl in my class in 5th grade, and it was fine. Then, I caught the Basic Bitch bug in 6th grade. I pretended to like Seventh Heaven and Dawson's Creek, even though I have never seen an episode of either in my life. I pretended to like that U2 song "Sweetest Thing," even though at age 12 I already thought it was the most saccharine, bullshit anthem ever. In high school, I layered on the polos and pearls and flipped around in my Rainbow sandals and listened to country. I just wanted people to like me, and if I acted exactly like them, maybe they would! I secretly loved writing fiction, photography, reading Time and Newsweek, and listening to non-Top-40 music that I obsessively searched for on Napster. But I hid these interests from the world, because I knew I would be punished for being different. I had the habit of making friends with the less popular group, because I'm an outgoing person. And let's be real, the not-popular group is the one full of real people. After being punished socially for it, I would vow that I would never do that again. Are you hearing this? Because of Basic Bitches, I ignored perfectly nice people. I was actually pretty mean to nice people. And you know what? I hardly ever talk to the girls in my main group of friends from high school. But those not-quite-as-popular girls? I love them so much. I feel like they are my soul sisters, and I'm heartbroken that I missed out on a decade of friendship, because I was a Basic Bitch. I'm also heartbroken that I missed out on a decade of actively pursuing what I'm passionate about, because it wasn't basic enough. I could have been a much better photographer by now, and a much better writer. It only got worse in college. I came to college with a personality. By the time I left, the Basic Bitches had turned me into one of their own. I mean, just think about the sorority system. It requires basic-ness. You have to be a good "fit" for the sorority. That means just like them. You have to dress like them, think like them, eat like them, act like them. You can't have an opinion and get into a sorority. You can't have an interesting background and get into a sorority. You can't be pursuing a degree in something other than communications or business or art history, and get into a sorority. If you're black, you have to relax your hair and put it into a french twist, and wear a pearl necklace at all times. And if you do this, plus have light-ish skin, they might make you their token black sorority girl. If you're foreign, you had better be a rich South American with European heritage. You have to carry the same tote bag, wear the same shoes, wear the same jacket, and have a deep and abiding love for the exact same brand of dresses, whether it's Milly or Lilly or Caché (depending on what school you go to). The whole point of sororities is to make anyone different feel like the scum of the earth. It was even worse at my school, where 85% of the student body was in the Greek system. The other 15% were either foreign (Basic Bitches don't like diversity) or had committed some terrible faux pas that meant the rest of their college career would be spent excluded from almost the entire social life of the school. Sometimes they accidentally made out with a girl's boyfriend (clearly the girl's fault, not the shitty boyfriend's fault). Or sometimes, they just made the terrible mistake of being themselves. I got into a downward spiral of self flagellation. Why couldn't I just be normal? Why did I have to keep volunteering in class with opinions? Why couldn't I keep my mouth shut? Why couldn't I tamp down my personality and just be like everyone else? It was awful. I wanted to quit life. I wanted to curl into a ball and hide my personality from the world. Sometimes I wondered what it was that other people saw, to make them so actively dislike me. I think I was only truly happy once I gave up trying, and dated a really nice, nerdy guy from an unpopular fraternity, and spent my lunches at the local hippie co-op instead of at the sorority house. At least I got into the misfit sorority, an odd mix of ultra-religious girls, girls who liked to drop acid, and girls who could give a shit about sorority life. We were all non basic trying to masquerade as basics. That was my saving grace. I'm still friends with those some of those girls.
Me, in college. My version of trying to be different was buying a North Face in blue instead of black.

Me, in college. My version of trying to be different was buying a North Face in blue instead of black.

Then I graduated and moved to New York. And slowly, I started shedding my Basic Bitch layers. I jettisoned the Rainbows and North Face and sundresses, and started wearing what made me feel beautiful. I stopped listening to top 40, and instead listened to whatever music I liked, which happened to be deep house and indie rock. I started avoiding Basic Bitch bars, and going to more underground parties. I lost all my borderline eating disorder habits, and started eating like a healthy human being. I found love. I found friends. I found acceptance. I found myself. Now, I am so fucking happy with my life. In my past life, I might have considered my current friends "trashy," because they don't dress in preppy clothes, or have undergraduate degrees from top 20 liberal art schools. (Well, some have those degrees. Others went to art school, or have master degrees, or ... who the fuck cares? I have no idea what their educational background is. I just like hanging out with them.) But they're not trashy, they're real. They have opinions, and interests, and passions. They create things. They debate things. And they treat me like a human being, instead of a cum bucket, a prospective wife, or a threat to their carefully constructed, basic bubble of life.
Me now, with my very unbasic boyfriend, dancing to unbasic music, at an unbasic party, with unbasic people. This was the highlight of my summer. Photo by Dean McCol

Me now, with my very unbasic boyfriend, dancing to unbasic music, at an unbasic party, with unbasic people. This was the highlight of my summer. Photo by Dean McCol

If I still hung out with Basic Bitches, I wouldn't be dating my boyfriend, who I love so much. I wouldn't listen to the music I love. I wouldn't have the confidence to pursue my dreams. I wouldn't be writing this right now. Because Basic Bitches would never share real feelings on the internet. Oh, this post is going to get the Basic Bitches chattering. They'll talk about how I really am a terrible person. They'll imply that the only reason my friends like me, is because my friends suck too. They'll imply that I'm not good enough for them, and that's why I don't hang out with them. They'll say I'm annoying, weird, slutty, terrible, and trashy. But I call bullshit. How many women and girls have given up on what they love because of Basic Bitches? How many more female programmers and scientists and artists would we have, were it not for the critical eye of Basic Bitches? How many women have found themselves in loveless relationships because of their cynical Basic Bitch friends? How many women have eating disorders, because of Basic Bitches? How many women go through life feeling like a bad person, because of Basic Bitches? I still come across Basic Bitches every once in a while, and it's always a shock. I can't fathom that there are women over 23 out there who actually act this way. Who can hold 15 minute conversations about nothing. Who will actually pretend to have not heard your question, because if you don't fit in their world view, you don't exist. Who, when you play something besides Lorde, scrunch their face and say, "Ew, what is this?" I thought we were over this! It's 2014 people. We can all agree nerds rule the world. Literally. But I've realized that I was over it. I moved on, and the Basic Bitches are still there. Chattering, gossiping, criticizing.

The Truth About Basic Bitch Categorizing

Look, I just want to end this essay by reiterating that the Basic Bitch isn't in what she likes. I have wonderful friends, who--by that standard--are super basic. They only listen to top 40 songs, date former frat guys, and read chick lit. But they're not basic to me, because they love me despite my being different. They have absolutely no interest in attending underground dance parties at 6 am with me, but they don't judge me for doing so. My boyfriend may not be their type, but they see that I'm in love and they are happy for me. When I show up wearing a very experimental outfit, they hug me and tell me how good I look. When I tell them a personal story about my life, they listen. They laugh when it's funny, and give me a hug when I need understanding. I mean, how basic would it be for me to make fun of their tastes, when I know that they just really honestly love country music and pink? There's nothing wrong with that. I'll even listen to country music with you and sing along because, why the hell not? Your decisions are as valuable as mine, even if they are different. And that loving, accepting, open-minded, positive, non-judgmental, supportive, friendly attitude is really what makes a woman, in my opinion, a real bad bitch. I hope this "basic bitch" thing isn't just a meme. I hope girls who have different-colored skin, an accent, who are questioning their sexuality, who like to go thrift-store shopping, who want to become scientists--I hope it gives them the courage to look people in the eye who are making fun of them or deriding their choices and say, "You're basic." Then walk away and carve their own path through their future.