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Why The Word Basic Should Be Erased From Our Vocabulary

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In the interest of spring-cleaning, self-improvement and Women’s History Month, can we all agree right now to stop using the word basic? I’m guilty of it too, so I’m not trying to seem holier-than-thou, but just hear me out. On the surface, it doesn’t sound that mean. It isn’t aimed at a certain race or body type. It doesn’t attack someone’s intellectual prowess or salary or life choices—but its vagueness is where its true cruelty lies. It gets thrown around subjectively all the time and really has no checklist of requirements; suddenly and without explanation, a coffee order is deemed basic, or a style of off-duty shoe, where you choose to live, which wine you drink and the sunglasses shape you favor. Everything is potential fodder.

And while being called basic doesn’t overtly mean you’re a failure, it’s a subtle slight that’s actually all the more upsetting because it makes the recipient call her own value and self-perception into question. (“Wait, this nail color makes me basic? How did I not know that, what’s wrong with me?!”) It’s not telling you that you’re bad, but it is telling you that you aren’t good enough, which is neither productive nor supportive. The worst part? It’s used by women about other women. So can we please relegate this unnecessary term to the same fate as slut and bitch, and just stop the girl-on-girl dissing? We’ve got way more important stuff to deal with.

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