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Embracing the Cheugy - Yeah, I’m Basic!


Gen Z is at it again–creating a new word to make fun of older people and the things we enjoy. First it was basic, but now it’s cheugy, which arguably seems meaner since it’s a made-up word with such hard consonant sounds? Also “basic” was popularized on the TV shows Parks & Rec and The Good Place, basic entertainment in themselves that somehow softens the blow. We’ll see how the “cheugy” term unfolds, but it’s definitely made the rounds in my corners of the internet. It was even in The New York Times: "cheugy can be used, broadly, to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard." That last part is a little ouchy, as I am loath to want to seem to be trying too hard or at all…I know that trying is forever uncool! But honestly, I’ve always been out of date?

I turned 40 last year, which makes me either a very young Gen X (my preference) or an elder millennial. I grew up in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, so trends were late getting to us, which is an argument for me counting as part of Gen X. Another is that I only started wearing millennial favorite skinny jeans in the last year, just before Gen Z claimed they are out of style. Whoops! Side parts are also apparently a no go, but my asymmetrical face and I will be keeping my hair as it is. 

Part of the aging process for me has gratefully included becoming more comfortable with who I am and being OK with the things I like. I am basic and will own that descriptor while recognizing there is privilege in having my tastes represented in popular culture. I like pop music (especially from the 90s when I was a teenager) and many hit TV shows when I find time to watch. I’m not especially trendy in my clothing choices or overly worried about makeup, but I am mesmerized by YouTube makeup artists and can spend inordinate amounts of time watching applications I will never attempt. (Do you have any favorite creators you’d recommend?)

While I still have tendencies to not want to be a sheep or just part of a crowd that laps up the soup du jour, so to speak, I can recognize that there’s a reason popular things are popular. I even love iced coffee, the ultimate basic! (You can keep your pumpkin spice lattes, however.)

One gift of the pandemic was a realization that I really love Taylor Swift’s music. She’s a decade younger than me, and her target audience was younger than her when she was at her early peak. But after a friend mentioned how much she loved the folklore album, I gave myself permission to listen and have turned into something of a superfan, even if it’s many years late! I can now share the enjoyment of her music with my girls. We love to “shake it off” and sing “why you gotta be so mean?” to each other. Maybe my girls and I are basic together!

I’m basic, and that’s OK. I doubt I’ll ever embrace “cheugy” in the same way. It’s a pleasure to watch trends come and go, and hopefully my experiences will help my daughters navigate their own style choices. (A mom can dream, am I right?)

Where do you fall on the basic to cool scale? I think, perhaps, that for me basic has become cool, allowing me to embrace it. Has parenting changed how you think about yourself?

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23 Jun 2021


By Mari Walker

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