A liking for Starbucks, Ugg boots and sequins are just some of the qualities necessary to be branded as “basic.” It is one of the latest slang words to describe a stereotypical “girly” girl.
This past October, many young ladies donned “basic white girl” Halloween costumes: dressing in brand name clothing, and carrying Starbucks cups almost as large as them.
This is hardly the first time a generation has poked fun at the girly stereotype; the bleached blonde who has the latest iPhone, filled with selfies, and adorned with a pink-sequined phone case. But, why is an interest in all things pink synonymous with stupidity? Is it possible “basic” girls may be more than the stereotype suggests?
I would argue, “duh.”
While rampant stereotypes exist for both genders, there is a particular irony in the way we stereotype women. Everything from razors to clothing to pencils and pens are marketed to women in blatantly sexist ways. Brands have tapped in to social media, of which young women are the primary users, and use beautiful models and celebrities to market the latest trends. We then proceed to mock women for buying into the trends that are marketed directly to them.
Beyond marketing and trends, there is an intrinsic societal tendency to challenge women’s interests, in a way that simply does not occur to men. If a woman dares to buy into trends, she is unoriginal and basic. Men are seemingly allowed to be many different versions of a man – and while they, too, are limited by societal pressures within that – it seems no matter what a woman is interested in, she will inevitably be mocked for it. Despite the progress we have made in terms of sexism, we are still unable to accept that women are capable of being multi-dimensional in the same way that men are.
I have fallen in to this trap as well. I am quick to judge other women for keeping up with the Kardashians, worrying about the state of their eyebrows, or being unaware of the current state of politics. And yet, I can also be quick to judge women who are behind the trends of fashion or who have yet to discover the latest Harry Styles album.
Why is it that an interest in “basic” things completely negates a women’s interest in anything else? Is it impossible to believe that I can be invested in politics and human rights, while also following the latest street style trends? Is it so hard to understand my female friends can both follow the Kardashians, and have an interest in literature or science?
Calling women basic is yet another way society has placed women in a box. No one is one-dimensional; and an interest in sequins, pink, or Paris Hilton does not invalidate a person’s intelligence. The assumption that women are one-dimensional is incredibly harmful, especially considering I, and many of my fellow women are guilty of perpetuating the stereotype.