Hannah Patterson


It’s a cold Autumn afternoon, and I’ve forgotten my gloves. I’ve been sticking my hands in my pockets but as I shuffle down Byres Road I realise that there’s only one thing that can truly warm me up, and so I step into Starbucks. As I stand in line, I’m confident in what I’m going to order. I want a pumpkin spice latte. I love pumpkin spice lattes, and they’ve just come back in store again. I want one, I know I do. But when I get to the counter, the words die in my mouth. As I try to say pumpkin spice latte, every white girl meme and BuzzFeed article I’ve ever seen rushes through my head, and I stumble out into the cold dazed and confused, holding a peppermint tea and unsure if I’ve just had a small stroke.

Never has a single drink been as inflammatory as the pumpkin spice latte. Ordering one brings a certain sort of judgement on you that has absolutely nothing to do with your taste in beverages, but everything to do with your place in society. In the fourteen years since its public release, this delicious spiced drink has become a symbol for the modern "basic white bitch", stepping in gracefully when Uggs fell out of fashion, and every year, the stereotype gets worse. Last year Starbucks started offering a pumpkin spice Frappuccino, and internet trolls everywhere had wet dreams for a month thinking about how they could use this information.

A lot of things these days can make you a "basic bitch" - most of us have all fallen into the trap at least once. Do you go to yoga? You’re basic. Do you enjoy the pithy introductions Carrie Bradshaw makes in the 90’s classic hit sex and the city? You’re basic. Do you like the refreshing scent selection available in Yankee Candles? Honey, call yourself Casper because you’re a white girl.

Even my makeup choices have now been curtailed by the fear of judgement. Wearing a certain shade of lipstick, of using a certain type of foundation (yes, I’m being serious) has now become something which others can discern personality details from. And your clothing choice? A minefield. In summer, I’m afraid to wear shorts and crop tops, which is all you want to wear in 30-degree heat, and in winter I hesitate before I put on my boots and massive scarf before heading out into the snow.

There’s no escaping it! In a society that already over-labels people, now even the most innocuous of our decisions has become an answer in a personality quiz. Recently an article told me that Diet Coke was the newest white girl fad. A THIRTY-SIX-year-old beverage which is known around the world is a fad. How can you win with those standards?

But the real question is, why does that stereotype bother me? Why did I consider giving the barista a fake name, so she wouldn’t know that the random girl in front of her who ordered a seasonal drink was called Hannah? I am, in fact, a white girl. I do, in fact, like pumpkin spice lattes. Does that make me a bad person? Does that negate all the other facets of my personality?

In reality, we all have a little basic bitch in us. We all have a vice of some kind. Maybe it’s a Starbucks drink, maybe it’s a cropped jumper that provides absolutely no warmth in the winter. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, people who personify every stereotype of the basic white girl might be annoying, but they’re not starting a cult or murdering their parents for giggles. Stop hating, get over yourself and go get yourself a delectable cinnamon, nutmeg and clove flavoured drink- you can thank me later.

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