Stop Calling Me ‘Basic’ for Liking Pumpkin Things!
Twenty20

Let me set the all-too-familiar scene: Trader Joe’s, with a friend, on a Sunday. A giant pyramid of pumpkin puree cans stares back at me. “Oh…my...God,” I whisper, as if my very presence might topple them. I wander (technically, elbow my way—it’s TJ’s on a Sunday) over to the orange-labeled pile, picking up one of the cans and cradling it like Simba. “Pumpkin season,” I say, and my friend starts to look worried. “Ugh, so basic,” she scoffs. Feeling attacked, I set the can down and head to the frozen foods aisle to purchase something socially acceptable, like cauliflower gnocchi.

But here's my question: When did we deem pumpkin—and all fall flavors, for that matter—basic? For those who need a refresher, the term “basic” is often used to refer to girls who are predictable and boring. “Ohhh, you like avocado toast? And acai bowls? And rose gold? And monograms? That’s cute,” some evil, condescending person probably said once, outside a Cinnabon.

And maybe this fun-shamer had a right to be skeptical. After all, pumpkin was a calculated marketing ploy. Namely, when Starbucks renamed fall “PSL season,” they knew every Ugg-wearing, Insta-obsessed woman from age 13 to 43 would be lining up for their special seasonal latte, and they got that prediction right. A cool $1.4 billion (with a b, not for basic) has been generated from the sales of PSLs since their inception in 2003, according to Mic.

But here’s where the eye-rolling falls flat. See, in my opinion, the real reason people drink pumpkin-syrup-filled lattes isn’t because they want to ascribe to some Starbucks-manufactured sorority girl ideal. It’s simply because these things are freaking delicious. They taste good, they feel good, end of story. Take my $7 and make it a venti with almond milk (healthy), please.

But lest you think I’m done with my defense, hang on to your small-batch kombucha, BRO. See, I also view this as a decidedly gendered attack. Think about it: Have you ever been to a restaurant where someone shames a dude for ordering extra hot sauce? Or heard a man complain about getting an eye roll from the waitress when he asked for a side of ketchup? The lesson? Guys who like pizza and PBR are fun! Women who like pumpkin muffins and unicorn frappuccinos are somehow using less brain power.

And the problem isn’t just foods, either. I wear Uggs with a tee and sweatpants to run errands because they’re easy to put on and make me feel like I’m walking on warm clouds. I wear cable-knit sweaters because they require zero thought and sometimes I do want to feel like the Michelin man. And yet somehow my wardrobe is the punch line to a joke that’s not designed to be funny. Meanwhile, I’ve never heard a man being shamed about his joggers or Top Gun-inspired Ray-Bans, dammit.

Is it a double standard? Are we marginalizing women’s preferences because they’re so easily mock-able on social media? (Yes, I did post an overhead ankle-boots-in-fall-leaves picture, thank you for asking.) Perhaps. But—here’s a novel idea—maybe we should all just appreciate what we like, and stop shaming other people if they like something different. Maybe we should return the word "basic" to its dictionary definition: fundamental, essential, a starting point.

Bottom line: If being basic means liking the sweet orange goodness of fall’s bounty, then give me pumpkin or give me death (and a chunky knit sweater to be buried in, PLEASE).

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