An Open Letter to Anyone Who Still Loves Pumpkin Spice
As much as we collectively love PSLs and pumpkin desserts, it's no secret that anything pumpkin-related has become slightly taboo in the last couple of years. We're going to unpack all of that, but let's start off by saying what should be obvious: Just as with your taste in music, film, or art, you should never have to apologize for liking what you like.
Back in the mid-2010s when pumpkin spice was becoming ubiquitous, there was a cultural embracing of the positive attributes of pumpkin; it's warm, it's cozy, it's autumnal, and when combined with a little sugar, it becomes a delicious dessert, making all of those traits just a little sweeter. It's not just Starbucks customers who love pumpkin spice... it's been used throughout modern history in Thanksgiving recipes, holiday desserts, and healthy side dishes.
But after the initial proliferation of pumpkin-spice-everything, the cultural tides started to turn. "Pumpkin spice latte" became something of a dirty word, and PSL-lovers everywhere were maligned for their "basic" tastes and "annoying" obsession with pumpkin. But what was really behind this cultural backlash? Exactly WHY did pumpkin spice become obnoxious to everyone outside its most dedicated fanbase?
The Mocking of Feminine Interests
While enjoying pumpkin flavors is hardly limited to women, the phenomenon of the PSL was widely embraced by women and female-identifying people. You rarely (if ever) see men's t-shirts, socks, notebooks, and home goods displaying phrases like "I Heart Pumpkin Spice." Women in today's culture have been raised to value topics like design, cooking, and decorating, all of which are topics that easily span the divide between a coffee drink and a lifestyle symbol. Therefore, the deliciousness of the PSL was able to manifest in all kinds of ways in female-focused literature and products.
But of course, it wasn't long before people started mocking pumpkin and its devotees. It was soon considered silly, uncultured, and unintelligent to enjoy pumpkin spice. This is because, like many other female-skewing topics (fashion, pop music, interior design), the pumpkin spice latte became synonymous with women's lifestyle culture. And women's lifestyle culture is, as a rule, mocked and devalued by society. But the jokes on the haters, really: Women make 83 percent of purchasing decisions in the United States, which means women's lifestyle culture is a HUGE driver of of our national economy. Additionally, women's lifestyle topics are incredibly valuable for personal growth and empowerment. They channel our creativity, help us grow and fine-tune our skills, and make life fun.
The Misogyny of "Basic"
A term that came out of the woodwork around the same time as the PSL was the term "basic bitch." Around 2015, women were assigned to one of two camps: They were either hipsters or they were basic. As anyone who lived through 2015's internet culture knows, these were coded terms for smart and dumb. It was an insult to call someone basic: Women who liked Taylor Swift, PSLs, and mainstream fashion trends were, apparently, the worst thing to be.
The idea that women who enjoy female lifestyle culture are unintelligent, boring, and just like everyone else is clearly rooted in misogyny. There was no widely used term in 2015 for mainstream-leaning men, and certainly none that carried the weight of the "basic bitch" insult.
Many women decided to take the insult lightheartedly, intentionally christening themselves "basic bitches" and fully embracing the fact that they loved PSLs and anything autumnal. But the lingering cultural distaste for anyone who likes pumpkin is a proof that the "female culture = stupidity" belief is alive and well in society.
Why You Shouldn't Worry About What People Think
Listen, whether or not you genuinely enjoy the taste of pumpkin isn't what we take issue with. It's perfectly fine to dislike pumpkin spice. But when you dislike the CULTURAL aspect of it simply because it seems "basic" or "silly," the aversion is actually rooted in misogyny.
No one should be shamed for their tastes and preferences, whether that's in music, internet content, or coffee flavors. If you're a PSL lover, know this: It's STILL one of Starbuck's most popular drinks and arguably the most successful coffee flavor of all time... so you're in good company. Never let other people's opinions on "basic" or "mainstream" topics dissuade you from enjoying a piping-hot cup of deliciously sweetened, pumpkin-flavored java.
Do you still love the infamous pumpkin spice latte? Tweet us at @BritandCo and let us know!
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