Why 'Basic' Is Beautiful

Woman picking flowers in a meadow at sunset, Hampstead Heath, London
Woman picking flowers in a meadow at sunset, Hampstead Heath, London

Webster defines the word "basic" as "forming or relating to the first or most important part of something; Not including anything extra."

Urban Dictionary defines it with a little more snark: "An adjective used to describe any person, place, activity involving obscenely obvious behavior, dress, action; Unsophisticated."

If you've ever been called "basic," chances are whoever said it wasn't thinking of Webster's definition.

When I hear this word being used, it's usually in reference to a white girl wearing yoga pants drinking a pumpkin spiced latte. Or a girl in the coffee shop taking a picture of her cappuccino. (Coffee is often included somehow, but if loving coffee is wrong then I don't want to be right.) Or a girl posting a heavily-filtered photo of her shoes. In fact, it's rarely ever used to label a guy. (I don't think anyone is surprised by that.)

I have been all of these women at some point, and not even in the distant past. More like two weeks ago. And you know what? I think basic is actually kind of beautiful.

"Basic" might be obvious, but, according to Webster, it's also essential.

"Basic" takes the simple things -- the typically mundane or overlooked moments in life -- and turns them into something just a little more extraordinary. It transforms the necessary parts of our day -- getting dressed, taking care of our babies, drinking coffee -- into memories we want to revisit. That's what I find so hilarious about how we use this term. It's certainly not meant to be uplifting. In fact, it's meant to be an insult. And, yet, we're most likely to use it in reference to people who take an extra few seconds to appreciate life's little pleasures. I don't know about you, but a pumpkin spiced latte on a chilly autumn day is pretty much nirvana. And I'm not ashamed to say that, every year, I look forward to the day Starbucks begins serving them with great enthusiasm.

But moving beyond caffeinated beverages, I will readily admit that we have become self-obsessed. We share photos and opinions that our followers and Facebook friends couldn't care less about. But in the grand scheme of things, does posting a photo of my $2 cross-stitch from the thrift shop actually take something away from the world? Does a deeply-rooted love of DIY make me less of a person? I'm not going to say any of this cures cancer. This isn't a compare/contrast kind of situation. But even "basic" things have their place. And if, at best, we're going to call them worthless or, at worst, damaging, then we also have to admit we're spending a whole lotta time focusing on the very things we pretend to hate. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather just enjoy them.

So call me "basic." I'm totally cool with it. Just make sure you buy me a latte when you're done.