Pumpkin Spice, and Everything (Not So) Nice

By Christina Spires

CatlinSpeak (Portland, Oregon)

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing colors and the days are getting colder. Not to mention the vast array of Pumpkin Spice things in full swing — candles, drinks, lotion, you name it.

I am a big fan of Pumpkin Spice, and after trying the new Burgerville Pumpkin Spice milkshake, I expressed my love on Facebook saying, “I don’t mean to sound basic but Pumpkin Spice anything gives me life.”

Pretty self explanatory, right?

Later that day, as the comments and likes came in, I began to contemplate what I had written. In doing so, a couple questions came to mind. For one, “Why was it important for me to note that I didn’t want to be labeled as “basic,” and “Did I use that term as justification for liking certain things?”

I decided to do a little research on Urban Dictionary, considering that it’s a slang term, and the use of the word “basic” doesn’t refer to the pH scale.

Urban Dictionary defines someone who is basic as someone who is practically unoriginal, but thinks that they are the most amazing and interesting person, so much so that they find the need to share with the world how great their life is. Throughout the entire definition, a “basic” person is portrayed as female, saying that “She is typical and a dime a dozen.” Ouch. That bites.

Although that definition is straight-forward, the idea of who would be considered “basic” still seems convoluted. Other than Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I enjoy a lot of mainstream things. I enjoy wearing leggings, boots, legwarmers, American Eagle jeans, and even using Pinterest, just like millions of people do.

Does that make me basic?

In the wake of my confusion, I looked up a few more definitions of “basic.” Slanguide.comrestates the stance of Urban Dictionary, simply describing someone as “having mainstream tastes in products or music.” This point was taken even further in an article from Chicagonow.com, saying that a “basic” person is “one who likes what everyone else likes, because they think it’s cool to like what everyone else likes.” They even say that a “basic” person is “a manipulated pawn of media and everything advertisers want you to be.”

After reflecting, I came to the conclusion that the author of this article believes that my “mainstream” indulgences allow me to be played and subconsciously shaped by society.

“The American Reader,” a literary journal, also ridiculously claims that someone described as “basic” exhibits a pattern of misogyny through “her taste in clothes, consumer products, and popular culture,” and that she “conforms to the most bland and uncreative stereotypes of late capitalist femininity.”

Really? When will pseudo-hipsters and snobs stop putting people down for liking certain things, especially things as harmless as henna, messy buns, and flannel shirts?

I raise my absolutely delicious Pumpkin Spice Milkshake, Latte, Smoothie, Fro-Yo, whatever it may be, in honor of those who don’t give these things up because of a person’s negative opinion.

If you’re speaking ill of people who enjoy a mainstream things, you’re truly missing out. There’s often a good reason as to why so many people enjoy certain “basic” things.


Image Credit: CatlinSpeak

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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