Does loving Lana Del Rey make me a basic white girl? Yes, but only if I listen to it while I eat avocado toast and read Lolita. Which I do. Well, not the Lolita part.
To see me, you’d probably think I’m a bit of a Basic Bitch even though I don’t really subscribe to trends, I’m not one for joining in on what’s cool, I don’t really have a clear “aesthetic”. I am a white woman in my 30’s who is a recovering Starbucks addict with hair almost always in a top knot. I do yoga and eat avocado on toast; I secretly wish I was Instagram Famous, and I’m romantic, yet very dark and kinky at heart. Ergo, my love for Lana is pretty predictable. If you saw me and clocked me as a Basic Bitch, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but you also wouldn’t be entirely right.
When I saw that this week’s Quote Quest prompt was a Lana Del Rey lyric, I actually squealed. I made a squeaky noise and bounced in my chair and immediately sent a link to Daddy, because he loves her music too and he once said, “We are going to fuck to the entire LDR discography.” and Reader, I have never been wetter.
“Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.”
― Lana Del Rey
A lot of LDR’s lyrics speak to me. Her signature sound is so lush and her lyrics allude to independent thinking and feeling, and embracing your inner spooky slut. Her words make me want to be myself, on my own terms, and not give a fuck what anyone says or thinks of that. As someone who has always given far too many fucks about what other people think, I feel like I found Lana at just the right time in my life: old enough to know better and too young to be afraid to change. Her words often prompt my own and as silly as it sounds, I feel “seen” by her lyrics.
As for this particular quote, I definitely identify with it. I have looked at all my darkest fantasies, and I have built a life in which I can experience them. Kink has made a huge difference in my life. I know that seems dramatic, but it’s true. I have learned more about my self, my body, communication and pleasure through kink than through anything else. Kink allows space and self love for all of the things I used to try not to think about because they were too “weird”. I never shied away from that darkness entirely, I just didn’t let it come to the fore very often, and I certainly never shared it with anyone. Kink changed that and gave me a voice for those wants and needs, likewise, LDR’s lyrics helped me add words and concepts to the psychosexual being I craved to be. She’s really been a bit of a guardian angel in that way; words to turn to when my own run dry or when I need to remember that it’s okay to not follow a straight path, that it’s okay to deviate, to be deviant, to indulge myself and live in the pleasure I desire.
I do, however, take issue with the line, “I’m fucking crazy” because the conflation with free spirited women who know what they want, and mental illness, is a really awful cultural stereotype. You don’t have to be unhinged or unwell to pursue a life you love, or have the sex you want, or live by your own rules. The idea that women who do so are “crazy” is not helpful to those with mental illness, or to the social and emotional independence of women. “Crazy” is also not something to be exotified, and it is often used in place on “unconventional” or “uninhibited”, neither of which require mental health issues.
The Basic Bitch trope is problematic in the sense that it’s reductive and narrow, but part of the problem is that people are so quick to judge and evaluate women, even more so when you’re outside of the goal posts of the gender binary or you’re a person of colour. Being a white woman whose aesthetic has me mistaken for being vapid or basic is fine by me. So I like an iced skinny hazelnut latte from time to time, sue me! There’s a presumption, I think, that white women have really easy lives, and from the point of view of cultural and political freedom, we do. It’s not hard to be a white woman, no matter what the Karens tell you. But being a woman of any description is a challenge because of how reductive and controlling so many of the expectations thrust upon us are. I guess that’s why Lana’s words ring so true for me: it’s not easy for women to fearlessly be who they are and live as they please. All the more reason to ask ourselves who we are, and are we living our lives in both the dark and the light? Are we moving towards the center of things, while forever expanding outward? Are we free?
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