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“Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada. Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother,” spat hipster-rapper Kreayshawn in 2011. Three years later, 'Basic Bitch' has become the internet’s favourite insult. Conformist, predictable, cliché? You basic.

Opinions on the origins of the term ‘Basic Bitch’ are divided. Know Your Meme cites a 2009 entry to Urban Dictionary that defines a Basic Bitch as “one who has no personality; who is dull and irrelevant” and “goes to the library to check her Facebook”. But the Basic Bitch’s real breakout moment was the April 2014 CollegeHumor video ‘How To Tell If You’re A Basic Bitch' – viewed over four million times.

The humour comes from finding a cultural reference specific enough to capture the essence of the Basic Bitch, whether it’s pumpkin spiced lattes or 'sweatpants that say sexy on the butt' . But the insult’s sting comes from the insinuation the ‘bitch’ in question is failing at individuality – the most prized characteristic of Gen Y and Gen Z. “I think the biggest difference between today’s youth cultures and previous generations is the widespread embracing of pluralistic identities,” says Youth Tribes anthropologist Andrea Graham. “Being an individual has become the new mainstream.”

But in the struggle to avoid the label that is ‘Basic’, this group are also seeking ways to take a break. Invisibility has become appealing in a world where you’re constantly pressured to be unique: whether the anonymity apps like Cloak offer or the ability to blend temporarily into the mainstream — hence the believability of K-Hole’s parody trend 'normcore'.

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Susie Hogarth is Canvas8’s go-to girl for all things art, pop and web culture. She’s worked with clients like Dove, Wolford and Laurent Perrier, written press releases for UK Trade & Investment, and helped de-stigmatise intimate health for Canesten.

28 Jul 14

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