How I Came To Terms With The Fact That I’m A Basic Bitch

guzelika
guzelika

I eat dirt.  Yes, you read that right. Clay actually. Or I did. Once.

Last year, I read in an interview with Shailene Woodley in which she explains that she eats dirt everyday to rid herself of toxins. I thought to myself: if George Clooney’s daughter from The Descendants recommends it, it must be good for you. Sure enough, when I Googled it, I had been missing out: tons of other people were also eating dirt on a daily basis! And here, all this time, I had thought ingesting dirt was a worst case scenario, like if you are stuck on Survivor Island and don’t want to eat a rat type-of-situation (I’m sure it tastes like chicken but I’ll pass).

This isn’t just any dirt though. It’s called bentonite clay to be exact, and when ingested, it binds with harmful metals and toxins and then expels them from the body, at least according to all the green blogs I read. If I’m honest, I am not actually sure what toxins are precisely, but they most definitely sound like something one would want to expel.

Later, two friends of mine who work in public health would laugh at me when I proudly made this “eating dirt” claim. Those two are always raining on my natural living parade. “What’s next?” I screamed back at one of them. “Are you going to tell me pH-controlled water can’t reverse degenerative diseases?!”

“Ashley,” scoffed my pharmacist friend, “your liver regulates the acidity of the liquid that goes into your bloodstream and each person has their own unique acidity level that the body carefully monitors; pH-balanced water is a total scam.”

Say it ain’t so! I heard the pH-balanced water stand on Abbot Kinney in Venice sells two hundred fifty gallons of product per day. And is it wrong that, armed with this new knowledge, I still seriously thought of opening my own alkaline water stand? There’s clearly a market for this stuff.

Anyway, I digress. The very next morning after learning about bentonite clay, equipped with this life-changing news, I rushed off to the nearest Whole Foods to buy my very own clay, ecstatic at the possibility of ridding my body of unwanted toxins. It’s the small pleasures in life, but this all happened during a phase I went through of attempting to make my home and beauty products chemical-free, so I was sure I had just stumbled upon the next big step with this whole ingesting dirt idea. According to my blog research, bentonite clay could also be used to make natural toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and face masks. Oh my! I eagerly picked up a jar of clay in the apothecary section and was heading to the register when I caught a glimpse of a small label on the back of the jar:

 Prop 65: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

What?! Birth defects? Cancer?! The whole reason I had started this Natural Living Phase of life was paranoia about chemicals after my mother had gotten breast cancer. Now in my effort to avoid cancer, I had almost directly ingested something that says in plain English on the label that it can, in fact, give me cancer! Also, “known in California?” Why weren’t the rest of us in on this seemingly important tidbit of knowledge? I slid the jar surreptitiously amongst a big display of healthy alternatives to bubble gum near checkout and bolted out of the store, feeling like I had just dodged the big C, or even the big D.

You might think this is where the dirt story stops. Oh no. My curiosity and desire to be toxin-free and eat dirt outweighed my fear of potentially consuming arsenic and lead; so a month later, convinced by green bloggers and celebrities – who again, must be right – that Prop 65 is a crock, I soon found myself in my kitchen mixing up my very own glass of dirt water to drink. It was gray and lumpy and tasted as one would suspect. In fact it tasted so, um, earthy that after a few sips, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. There must be other, less horrific ways to rid oneself of all of these ambiguous but dangerous sounding toxins. In fact, I recently read that a thirty-minute sauna every day can have the same toxin-ridding effect. Granted, the writer advising this went on to admit he  had collapsed mid-sauna with an elevated heart rate six days into this regime, but I guess it’s no pain no gain in the world of toxins.

Three months into my Natural Living Phase, I was looking homeless on account of the shampoo I made out of water and baking powder (I have now found out it was supposed to be baking soda) and feeling agitated. I just wanted to bail on all of my concoctions and grab some meat at the local grocery store, but those meats are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Sigh.

Which brings me to six months ago – suddenly my friends started throwing around the term “basic,” as in, “you’re so basic.” Having a flimsy grasp on pop culture since I don’t own a television and live in my own deluded little existence, I had no idea what they were referring to (just like a few years back when someone starting throwing around the phrase “totes” and I thought we were talking about the umbrella brand).

Not wanting to be in the dark or to be mocked for another umbrella comment, I did a quick Google search and came upon a quiz “Are You a Basic Bitch?” Click. I urgently needed to know – was I basic?

Unbiased, I began the quiz, which contained questions like “Do you like Taylor Swift?” Of course, I enthusiastically ticked the Yes box. How can you not like Taylor Swift? She’s everyone’s best friend and her songs are really catchy, which brought me to the next question. “Do you love the song 22 even though you are, in fact, not twenty-two?” Wait, is Taylor Swift actually twenty-two? I thought that was a metaphor.

At some point during this quiz, I deciphered that being basic was not a positive attribute so began to resent questions such as: “Do you like leggings?” That’s an unfair land mine of a question. I haven’t worn anything like that but Lycra in years; it precludes having to ever worry about your weight and you get a great range of motion. “Do you like brunch?” Show me a person who does not like brunch and I will show you a person who is clinically insane. What’s not to like? It’s sweet and savory. There’s something for everyone at brunch.

All of this leads up to the fact, which I am sure you have now guessed, that I apparently, according to the internet, err on the side of basic, which, as far as I can tell from context clues, means I am a conformist, or more concisely, not unique in any way, shape or form.

Of course, this greatly offended my millennial sense of individuality, but the whole disaster reminded me of a story a friend told me about an alt-J concert she had recently gone to. Thinking she had discovered this hip new band, she arrived at Brixton Academy for the gig to discover a crowd full of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, most of whom were still dressed in their work gear, looking to escape the mundanity of their entry level jobs for the evening.

“I guess we’re all just conformists at heart,” she had said dejectedly. No no, I reassured her. We are all very unique individuals. But now, this unfortunate quiz had me wondering, are we all just basic?

The quiz also suggests that another basic characteristic would be to wear your workout clothes in non-workout situations. I assert that it would be un-American not to. If being basic means that I am fiercely supportive of my Lululemon workout gear, do I really want to be anything else? Nothing shapes your tush quite as effectively.

My last line of defense against full condemnation to a basic lifestyle crumbled at the quiz’s proclamation that you might be basic if you feel the need to try every new fitness trend. Guilty as charged – but is it wrong to want to stay in shape, though even I must admit that my pursuit of the latest exercise trends has led me down some unexpectedly bizarre rabbit holes? During a short stint living in LA a few years ago, a friend convinced me to try kundalini yoga. She said it would not only be a spiritual awakening, but would unleash and allow me to harness new sexual energies. She also said that Russell Brand had been hitting on her during class. I decided I would not mind any of the above so I promptly signed up for a class and found myself a few days later at Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood.

First observation: everyone else in my class looked like a hot Jesus. So far, so good. All of my previous vinyasa yoga classes had been mostly women. This new testosterone-full version of yoga was a welcome surprise. Also, everyone was sitting on furry sheepskin rugs instead of traditional yoga mats. Very luxurious.

That’s when things started to get weird. One of our kriyas (exercises) was to beat our chests and hum for twelve minutes while the instructor beat a gong. I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted this – I’m assuming not unless you have some sort of Tarzan fetish – but it’s actually quite physically difficult after around the four minute mark. Every once in a while I opened an eye and took a peek at my neighbor to see if they were at all disconcerted by this whole process. Nope, it was just me. Class wrapped up with a sing-along to an adult version of “This Little Light of Mine…” Very LA.

After class I called a friend back in London about my new extracurricular activity and she seemed really worried. “You have to watch out, Ashley. People have been known to lose sexual control of themselves in those classes and attack the person next to them!”

I pretended to be appalled, but I was going through a dry spell at the time so secretly wondered whether it would be Hot Jesus #1, 2 or 3 who would lose control while next to me. I made a mental note to sign up for next week’s class. Sadly, my job brought me back to live in London before I could test this theory. Kundalini yoga and I had a long break from each other but I recently decided to give it another try.

Kundalini Take Two:

I showed up at London’s Triyoga Chelsea fresh from a trip to NYC and decked out in my newly acquired Lululemon gear. I felt smug and was excited to show off my two hundred dollars worth of Lycra but my plan royally backfired. Everyone in class was donning white baggy clothes. What was going on? Some kundalini dress code I didn’t know about. Ugh. My neon spandex seemed gauche now in this sea of neutrals.

The instructor walked in and he was….hot. I made a mental note to do a posture incorrectly later on so he would have to help adjust me.

Speaking of sexual energy, one of our first instructions was: “Squeeze in your anus.”

Come again?

“Squeeze your anus in and out while holding your breath twenty-six times.”

Once again, I was left feeling perplexed by what was required of me in kundalini yoga. Noticing no one else seemed phased though, I obliged. After a few times of doing this, I felt like I kind of wanted to unleash some sexual energy but, alas, it was London so there was no Hot Jesus on hand. We went into another difficult series of postures and people started to struggle. The instructor encouraged us to push through with the following: “I know it’s hard but don’t give up. Keep going as if someone is going to kill your family if you stop!”

And, with that one declaration, the channel was abruptly switched from a rom-com to The Hunger Games. I looked at the woman next to me, who returned a steely gaze. It was on as I sweated out the next forty minutes, determined to keep my family alive despite the burning in my abs. Family Sands was not going down on my watch. I left full of adrenaline and with a new lease on life. Whether it was kundalini yoga or the threat of familicide that brought on this burst of energy, I’ll never know, but I decided that, whether or not it makes me basic, I would be a repeat kundalini customer after all.

Besides, shaming people for doing what’s in vogue seems like a moot point to me. Might I radically suggest that things are popular for a reason? I have a friend who proudly stated while deriding popular music festivals, “Anything that’s really popular, I make it a point to do the opposite.” What, so she requests the muffin bottom? Continues sporting a Rachel even though it’s 2015? Deliberately going against the grain to prove a point is equally as absurd, if not more, than just succumbing to what has already passed the test of public demand. My response to this reverse brand of snobbery now that I have proudly accepted my basic-ness: I hope she enjoys sitting at home by herself listening to her mp3 player while I am at Coachella looking forward to returning home to my flat stocked full of scented candles and pH-balanced water. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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