"You Are So Basic"


“You are so basic.” Urban Dictionary defines basic as “any person, place, or activity involving obscenely obvious behavior, dress, action. Unsophisticated. Transparent, shallow.”

To many other girls, I am “basic.” I shop at J. Crew and I love Starbucks. I Instagram pictures of food and take selfies on Snapchat. Sometimes, I say things like “OMG I cant even,” and I eat at Chipotle. Despite this, whenever someone calls me “basic” and I ask why, they always point to the clothes I wear.

I would rather be called fat than called basic. And I would rather be called almost anything than be called fat. There are many different parts of my identity that those who do not know me can judge me for, but the clothes I wear? Why not judge me regarding my opinions on the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Every day I wear lots of Israeli jewelry and my computer and car are both covered in stickers that proclaim things like “I stand with Israel” or “Support the IDF”—why not judge me for what some refer to as blindly supporting Israel? For many, it is easiest to make themselves feel better by judging others based on the most obvious aspect of their appearance—their clothing.

On their website, J. Crew states “We side with personal style over fashion, think timelessness is underrated and find that clothes look best when they’re lived in. We love color blocking and temper tomboy with heels. Were fans of tousled hair and think everything’s right when something’s left just a little imperfect.” How could anyone say that one who shops at this store is unoriginal or generic? However, the point of this blog post is not to help support this multi-million dollar company, but rather to encourage women to stop putting each other down.

For me, feminism is an all-encompassing movement that not only promotes gender equality but also encourages individuality. How can we tell men to respect us when we cant even respect each other? How can we lobby for equal pay when my friend was denied a job by a woman who told her she couldn’t work at her store because her clothing appeared cheap? Before we try and alter the way those around us think, we must first try and change our own mindsets. I too am guilty for judging other women for their appearances, thinking they are things such as “shlumpy” or “unputtogether,” but the hypocrisy stops here. If we call each other basic, we are giving men the license to do so in return. If we judge each other by the clothing we wear, we are giving men the license to do that as well.

Femininity and intellectual curiosity do not need to be mutually exclusive aspects of ones identity. I firmly believe that by judging other women for their clothing, one is (whether intentional or unintentional) rebutting the above statement. Wearing certain clothes does not make one unoriginal, and drinking lattes before school does not make them boring. Before you judge them, take the time to really get to know them. Otherwise, you are the one presenting “obscenely obvious behavior.” Dare to be different. It is time we break the multi-generation tradition of subjecting each other and ourselves to certain categories based on our clothing. In a time where there are so many different aspects of ones identity that cant be seen or understood from simply looking at each other, why deny ourselves the opportunity to genuinely get to know those around us? Superficiality and insecurity often cross paths when we get insecure, but many times we are only insecure because we feel as though we are being judged. If we stop judging each other by appearances, we will in turn promote individuality and foster creativity—making  the world around us a much more inviting, welcoming place. 

This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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Well, preferring "fat" to "basic" must mean basic is the absolute worst thing in the world. Worse than living in a war torn country, worse than not having enough food for your family, worse than being homeless, etc. Well, I'm fat and deeply resent that the worst thing you can think of is being called "fat". I'm called that regularly and when I was a kid, several times a day. And yet, I've survived 66 years! Imagine that.

How to cite this page

Sinclair, Maya. ""You Are So Basic"." 18 December 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 25, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/you-are-so-basic>.

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