What they Were Listening to (An Adulterated Version to Cheer You Up):
There were two girls with beautiful, shiny straight hair, dressed in dark autumn colours, thin like models, sporting perfectly sculpted brows, both wearing laissez-faire (but I really do care) toques, sitting across the coffee shop from me. I was intimidated at first to approach their beauty indoctrinated bench, but then the words “basic bitches” came to mind, and I thought, “Why should I be intimidated by these pumpkin-spice flavoured, Aritzia-wearing, T-Swift clones?”
For those of you who don’t know the term, “Basic Bitch” is appropriated to women who fit into the characteristics defined in the Urban Dictionary as, “1) one who has no personality; dull and irrelevant; 2) just an extra regular female”. I labeled these girls as such, and instantaneously gave myself a confidence boost by believing myself to be the opposite.
So I sauntered up to them all high and mighty and said, “I’m sorry to bother you but do you think I could take a minute of your time?” Then my head instantly deflated and I felt like a door-to-door salesman, or a Jehovah’s Witness. They both had earphones on and looked at me with a mean quizzical eye in the only way that pretty girls can; it made me feel uncomfortable. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I remember awkwardly putting one hand to my side and leaning forward like a prospector would.
The brunette of the duo took her headphones off and in the same motion swung her shiny sheet of hair back with ease. I thought she must have practiced that in the mirror hundreds of times to get it so perfectly clichéd.
“Sorry?” She said, not sounding sorry at all.
“So like…you want to know what kind of music other girls like? Ok….” The blonde one said hanging onto the last word with a dubious tone – they both smiled slyly to each other like little devils. I could have argued with her but instead I said with my best Stepford Wives smile,
“Yes, what are you listening to?”
They answered me civilly, they even warmed up after a bit, but they never invited me to sit; I stood the whole time we talked which was for at least ten minutes.
I left wondering why I had felt so belittled. The truth was that there was an innate competition between us, like a female pissing contest (pardon my French), and I wasn’t innocent in the whole debacle. I left and texted my friend calling them basic and rude.
But as I began to write out this blog post, I realized that I was mistaken, the whole system was mistaken! I thought about how on both sides we were tearing each other down – just with our eyes – we were strangers vying for dominance over each other, but for what? Who was prettier? Who was more unique than the other?
I didn’t know anything about these women. I didn’t know if they liked pumpkin spice lattés (though truthfully their popularity is due to the fact that they are delicious), or if they were artists, or scientists-in-training, so what right did I have to label them at all, and vice-versa? It is labels such as these, based solely on feminine physicality, that create physical rifts between women and engender an environment of judgment solely based on comparison and competition.
In a world that constantly tries to define women within unbelievably unreachable parameters, why try to define oneself against another item on the list of what women should not be? To me that sounds unoriginal, and, ironically, pretty basic.
A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.