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COLUMN: Stop attacking the basics


As the weather cools, the potential to be basic increases. But think twice before you criticize someone for enjoying their pumpkin spice latte. Sarah Lally Buy Photos

Hide under your blanket scarves, stock up on pumpkin-spiced provisions and get ready, my little basic friends. Persecution is underway.

For the next few months you will face attacks from every angle on your distortedly saturated fall photos, your pumpkin patch adventures and your fire scare from an apple-spiced Yankee Candle.

For fear of public ridicule, you’ll be forced into hiding, whispering your Starbucks order in hushed tones lest anyone hears you utter “pumpkin spice latte.” But for a label that supposedly means nothing more than having common taste, why are so we afraid of being called “basic” anyway?

If you think about taste on a spectrum, there are three positions.

On the left are those who live without any real taste or personal preferences. Ask them about their favorite movie, what they do on a Friday night or what they throw on to go to class, and they’re not going to give you much in response.

Instead of having their own answers, they simply form their interests and preferences based the crowd around them. Practicing this kind of taste is probably why you rocked side bangs and Aéropostale graphic tees for so long – your little middle school self just wanted the protection and approval of dressing with the crowd.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who live with an extreme sense of taste, always preferring something different from the norm.

Lovers of obscure indie bands no one knows, foreign films they can’t translate and coffee brands I sure can’t pronounce – it’s not really about what they like as long it’s just a little more cultured or niche or obscure than you.

And then we have those who prefer the basic taste somewhere in the middle. Pillsbury pumpkin cookies, apple orchards with free admission, spontaneously falling into a pile of leaves for an Instagram – it’s the simple things in life.

Now all of this would be fine if the three taste categories stuck to themselves, worried about their respective side bangs and coffee brands and moved on with their lives. Instead, our tasteless Aéropostale fans and overly cultured indie snobs all come and attack the basics.

With their eye rolls, snide comments and uppity Odyssey articles, they shame the basic stereotype year after year. Crowd followers say the basic tries too hard. Taste snobs say the basic doesn’t try enough.

Meanwhile the basic does nothing in return. She just smiles behind the pumpkin held up to her face as she tries to imitate a trendy Pinterest photo.

But notice how the taste shaming only goes one way. As your mom would tell you, that isn’t a reflection of the basic, it’s a reflection of everyone else. The crowd followers, afraid of standing out, and the taste snobs, afraid of blending in, ostracize the basic stereotype to distance themselves from their worst fears.

It’s a cultural phenomenon, truly, that they could join forces to protect their own egos at the same time.

But here’s my plea: don’t do it by hurting the basics. Not now, not during their season. They have photos to overexpose, flannels to match and a certain Starbucks drink to order with pride.

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