Would you rather be called “basic” or “extra”? It’s a question worthy of Zobmondo yet this “slang-uage” didn’t even exist back in 2001 when the book/board game debuted. Hint: Neither term is exactly complimentary. The title of “basic” (also known as “basic bitch” or “basic AF”) was introduced circa 2014 launching countless memes of the Ugg booted, legginged and often sorority sweatshirt-clad- well- past-their-college-years, toting the beverage of choice: a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. (If you somehow missed this, feel free to Google at your own risk). The inference is that these “she-ple” are not only incapable of an original idea but are, horror of horrors, dull, boring and omnipresent. Interestingly, the opposite of a “basic bitch” is the cool, exciting “bad bitch,” — cue the requisite celeb callouts and clapbacks among those with privilege.
In the last five years, “basic” seems to have taken firm root in the social soil, spreading out into a poison ivy-like weed. Much like the ensuing bad contact rash, “basic” is touted as something or someone to steer clear of at all costs. Online editorial articles/tutorials such as “11 Quick and Non-Basic Ways to Style Fine Hair,” “Blake Lively Has the Answer to Rainy Day Hair – And it’s Anything But Basic,” “Alexander Wang Collection 1 Denim is Anything But Basic” and “20 Runway- Approved Dark Eyeshadow Looks that Aren’t a Basic Smoky Eye” are just a few recent examples I’ve been subjected to via my email inbox.
If “basic” is not desirable, what’s wrong with “extra,” “so extra,” or even “extra AF”? This adjective once commonly heard while ordering at Chipotle (“Yes, I know that guacamole is extra”); as a desirable commodity on a plane (extra legroom); as an additional discount (extra 20% off with this coupon code); as a modifier to a chicken recipe (KFC’s Extra-Crispy) or as a background actor on a TV show or film; has come to indicate behavior that is excessive, over-the-top, diva-like or attention seeking. Um, sorry but isn’t that the point of Instagram? The use of the word “extra” in this new school sense reared its head around 2017 — recently gaining critical mass online as well as on celebrity entertainment-based TV news shows. One of these is even called “Extra,” although meant in the old school manner of newspaper banners proclaiming “Extra, Extra! Read all about it!”
Kylie Jenner’s recent celebration of baby daddy Travis Scott’s 28th birthday has been described as “extra AF.” Most people buy a greeting card; the makeup mogul who just launched her “Kybrow” line, bought a birthday themed highway billboard featuring images of herself and daughter Stormi, in addition to hosting a timely authentically costumed (and vehicled) Avengers themed party. Needless to say, the Kardashian Klan defines the “Xtra” aesthetic. Not to be outdone by her younger sister, Kim had a fourth baby shower – this time with a CBD-theme since she’s “freaking the f*ck out” about adding another young member to the West household. Of course, plenty of others in the “celebesphere” are known for making “Extra” happen –Jlo reportedly has 75 staff members including an eyebrow assistant and a coat carrier, Daniel Radcliffe owns a $17,000 mattress, Bono allegedly spent $1,700 on a plane ticket for the return of a favorite hat, Mariah Carey famously got ferried from her dressing room in a wheelchair rather than making the journey to the stage in her sparkly heels.
There are signs that the tide is turning when it comes to the fear of being “basic.” Stassi Schroeder of the TV show Vanderpump Rules has embraced it with her brand new book “Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook.” Another example involves a “celebrity-adjacent” individual who would like to be known as chill or low maintenance—at least compared to his high-profile clientele. In last Sunday’s New York Times, Daniel Martin — makeup artist to the stars (Jessica Biel, Elisabeth Moss and the “Most Extra Duchess of Sussex” aka Meghan Markle), detailed his “Sunday Routine.”
Under the category “Basic Brunch” he mentions that his best friend Summer Walker (is she related to Winter Sprinter? Lol) works at a nearby Greenpoint Korean restaurant which he and his husband frequent. “I’m really basic, so I’ll get whatever she recommends,” says Martin. He also mentions that his caffeine jolt is via regular grounds and a Mr. Coffee – he’s from Seattle and doesn’t want his coffee to be “so precious.” Sounds like someone who’s flaunting his inner “basic-ness,” or maybe just trying “extra” hard to sound relatable.
As with everything, there is a time and a place for “extra-ness,” as those above “beyond a smoky eye” article recognizes. While showcasing a slideshow or panoply of models sporting next-level eye makeup lewks culled from recent designer runways, it goes on to state: “And of course, there are moments in which you want to be absolutely extra too.” What could be a better moment to pull out all the stops than Monday night’s upcoming Met Gala? “Notes on Camp” couldn’t be a more perfect theme for the “extra”-ordinary!