Webster’s Dictionary defines “basic bitch” as, “The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.”
Thus began my own personal search to pin down exactly what this relatively recent cultural meme actually fucking means. On its surface, “basic bitch” seems to have the same elusive definition as “hipster.” What constitutes a hipster changes drastically depending on the context or person you’re talking to. Some people seem to think that a basic bitch is someone who thinks she’s the shit, but isn’t. This seems inadequate and, frankly, useless, since “poser” already exists in our lexicon. Others define it as a girl who is almost insultingly normal — that has so little originality that she resembles a cookie-cutter human being. Others look at a basic bitch as a woman who derives all of her self-worth from slightly above-average consumer and fashion products.
I’m still skeptical.
College Humor took a solid stab at the basic bitch moniker.
While the video is hilarious, it seems that the definition they’re operating off of is that being a “basic bitch” basically equates to being an upper middle class white female with no awareness of anything except the shallowest pop culture memes. Seems kind of broad. We need to go deeper.
Like everything hot and fresh in our cultural popularity, “basic bitch” came from hip-hop. The Game dropped a hot track a few years back titled “Basic Bitch” that characterized these women as fake people with fake accoutrements, sitting around the club, trying to hop on with a rich rapper who can make their fake Louis a real Louis. Then, of course, Kreayshawn took it viral with “Gucci Gucci” — the definition was similar, but more refined. Not only are women with fake Guccis and Fendis basic bitches, but ALL women sporting those brands are.
I decided to consult a female friend who’s more plugged into current culture than I am. Her first reaction was, “Why are you writing that column? That idea has been beat to death, I think.” Typical answer, since she often accuses me of being hilariously out of touch with what’s considered cool these days. When I pressed her further, she came up with this:
“Okay, my definition of a ‘basic bitch’ is just a regular girl who likes mainstream things. She attracts haters probably because the things she likes aren’t cheap, so she’s viewed as spoiled. I personally think this hate is stupid, and anyone who thinks they’re better than the B.B. should just fuck off back to their house, which won’t even smell good because they aren’t ‘basic’ enough to own a scented candle.”
Valid criticism. This is where my research ends and my unprofessional attempt at pop cultural anthropology begins. “Basic” as a word is pretty powerful when used as the modifier for the pejorative, “bitch.” In non-pseudo intellectual speak, that basically means that “basic” is what’s important, and “bitch” is just the thing that makes it an insult. I tend to prefer the more basic (hehe) hip-hop definition of “basic bitch,” particularly because it’s where the term originated. This person is a girl who fronts fake fancy shit to attract men who can offer real fancy shit. It’s the next iteration of Kanye’s “Gold Digger.” That’s where the term begins and ends for me.
But how do we explain the co-opting of “basic bitch” to be an insult hurled at girls who like mainstream things? It’s simple. Middle class people have a tendency to search frantically for ways to separate themselves from the rest of their demographic. White picket fences might have real utility, but who wants to put them up anymore at great risk of becoming a stereotype? Middle class millennials are no different. They go to great lengths to be “original” and “edgy,” and then lift a hip-hop term to demonize the group they’re so desperately trying to not fall into. Basic bitches are being derided by self-styled “bad bitches.” Bad bitches exist in a constant state of fervent assholery. In order to attract the A$AP Rockys of the world who love bad bitches, they have to put off a vibe of sociopathic disdain for “normal” people. To further separate themselves, they created the bastardized “basic bitch” concept.
What we’re left with is that “basic bitches” are well-meaning — albeit uncreative — people who are unfairly fucked with by “bad bitches” who wield “basic” as a verbal shield against the death sentence that they perceive “sameness” to be. But the thing is, Uggs, yoga pants, Norts, sweats, scented candles, mass-produced picture frames, Ray Bans, puppy videos, shrimp scampi recipes, fake vintage furniture, Pinterest crafts, corporate lattes, and Taylor Swift are all fucking fine. They might not be original per se, but they’re comfortable, and comfortable isn’t inherently bad.
However, personal insecurity manifesting itself by coming up with a term to demean a type of person you secretly fear yourself to truly be is something that most, if not all humans, are susceptible to. So really, in my final estimation, “bad bitches” are the most basic of them all.