Basic or Bust

Today, it seems that one cannot like a popular brand without risking the ultimate insult: "basic."


photo by Alyssa Bruce

Items like Hydroflasks, scrunchies, and AirPods are high on the list of being "basic" because of their popularity.

Alyssa Bruce, Staff Writer

“I like them, but I don’t want to look basic.”

It’s a phrase I have said numerous times while shopping, merely within the past few months.

Vans, Nike Air Force Ones, and Lululemon leggings. Walking through a current-day high school, it is these pieces of clothing that I see on almost every student I come across. 

It seems as if the majority of high schoolers own the same products and like the same things. For girls, Kanken backpacks and scrunchies are staple items, and boys often wear checkered Vans and Nike hoodies. Although a large number of students wear them, owning such items is labeled as “basic,” simply meaning ordinary and uncreative. 

For the most part, brands like these are popular among teenagers due to style and quality. I can understand why an immense amount of kids my age own such items. 

Despite the previous reasons, once clothing, music, or even language becomes well-known, its value vanishes. Girls apparently can no longer wear athletic wear such as Nike and Lululemon without being known as a “basic” girl. Guys are seen as “wannabes” simply for wearing brands such as Thrasher.

I have never understood why it is such a terrible thing to like a product that is also liked by others. Doesn’t that merely mean that a large percentage of the population agrees with your taste? Before I was aware of the stigma associated with being “basic,” I used to take pride in the fact that many others enjoyed what I enjoyed, whether it was a well-known band or a certain celebrity.

I will admit, however, that I can see some of the motivation for such a stigma. Society places emphasis on being unique in all aspects, so when one isn’t absolutely distinctive, they’re labeled as boring. While I understand and believe that being unique is an important trait, it is impossible to be so in every area of life.

Every single one of us is bound to like something that is popular at least at one point in our lives. Attempting not to do so is simply unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with not liking a popular item. However, bashing others for liking such things is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with not liking a popular item. However, bashing others for liking such things is wrong.”

It has come to the point where many teens, including myself, don’t buy, wear, or even just support a product due to the fear of being labeled as basic. I’m not proud of it, but I have passed up many items only because I knew that many others owned the same one.

It shouldn’t be this way. There shouldn’t be a fear of liking what one likes, whether it is very unknown or the whole school is aware of it.

Sure, being basic means going along with the crowd. But is there really an issue with doing so if one truly likes a basic item? There shouldn’t be. Basic items are basic only because many enjoy the product or thing in consideration; thus, there must be redeeming qualities that it possesses.

Don’t get me wrong — standing out in a crowd can be a positive thing. Not being afraid to express one’s interests is an act of courage. Yet, on the opposite side of the spectrum, having the same preferences and outfits as many others isn’t necessarily a fault, and it should never be something to be fearful of.

I may be basic, dressed in my sherpa hoodie, PacSun crop-top, and checkered vans. That very idea used to be something I hated the thought of. But the more I think about what being basic really is, I have learned to embrace it. If I like something, I now refuse to let the fact that many others like the same thing to discourage me from liking it also.