THE FIRST TIME I STALKED AN EX’S NEW GIRLFRIEND on Instagram was around two years ago. I’d like to say that I have the good sense to be cringing as I write, but the reality is that I’m only a fraction as embarrassed about it as I probably should be. The mortifying part is that – either thanks to my gargantuan traitor of a thumb accidentally liking a picture from 76 weeks prior, or her being equipped with some kind of preternatural anti-stalk radar – she blocked me.
Thankfully, I thought better of setting up a Finstagram in order to continue my scathing judgment of her dedication to Marilyn Monroe quotes and the occasional padded body warmer. “She looks like she’d always have stuff for a pie in the cupboard,” my friend chimed in, after being lassoed into the judging. “She looks cupboardy.” I laughed because it was true, and also because I am meaner than I think.
Oh, don’t look at me like that. It wasn’t my ﬁnest moment, but it’s a universally accepted law that you are allowed to pass judgement on both an ex’s new squeeze and a new squeeze’s ex. I’ve done it, and you’ve done it. It’s hardly your fault if they make scrutiny easier when they decide that “happiest girls are the prettiest girls,” is the singular, most profound philosophy that they identify with.
It was after seeing something like this that my ugliest, most Regina George side reared its head, hunting for proof that she might also own a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster, or anything with the word ‘Princess’ on it.
Busy plumbing new depths of judgmental ﬁnger-pointing, I failed to grasp one very ironic, yet crucial, caveat. As basic as I surmised this poor girl to be, I was being twice as unoriginal by trawling her Insta to begin with. To make things worse, as I was doing it, I was sitting under not one, but two pictures of Marilyn Monroe on my wall, having just posted a photo of me and my girl gang in the most contrived lineup you’ve ever seen, all doing the skinny-arm pose. It’s likely that I even captioned it, “These ones” and shoved a heart-eyes emoji on the end for good measure. Cue the dawning realisation that I was – and am – a massive cliché. Every bit as basic as cupboardy, but – if the above is anything to go by – probably not as nice. I’m working on it.
Worryingly, I’d been deluding myself the entire time that I inhabited some kind of elevated plane where I’d only listen to Taylor Swift kind of semi-ironically, and only drank pumpkin spice lattes when there were no witnesses. I had, and still have, an unapologetic love of Uggs – they’re a hug for your feet, dammit! – but considered it OK because I didn’t wear them at the same time as drinking the aforementioned. To cement matters, I have been known to Instagram many an avocado, and do photo montages of my friends on their birthdays, the selection method for pictures being primarily picking ones where I look fantastic. There’s also a strong chance – read: no doubt whatsoever – that I have built an entire career based on the questionable inﬂuence of Carrie Bradshaw. So far, so basic.
In my defence, though, I didn’t cry at The Notebook, and I was very, very late to the party with highlighter. But overall? There’s no hiding it. While I might be partial to the odd esoteric cultural jolly, I’m always going to embrace the poppy, cheerful mass-market just as much. The mainstream is often derided as unintellectual and low-brow, but there’s still an art to it that deserves to be celebrated without worrying about being dismissed as a two-dimensional airhead. So I’m carrying on drinking my Starbucks regardless. The heart wants what it wants. Call me basic – I don’t even care. Like my mate Marilyn said, “Always believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?”