Every year, Starbucks releases their Pumpkin Spice Latte and Frappuccino and they are so delicious. The “Pumpkin Craze”, as I call it, has spread from major corporations down to smaller businesses. The goal of the fall is to capitalize off our love of fall. However, one of the biggest tropes on the internet is to make fun of people who like it. How could that be when it’s the number one seller for most companies? It’s simple: if you look at the history of trends appreciated by women, they are all hated by mass-media. Society hates things women love. Let’s take a deeper look.
According to Tasting Table, “The Pumpkin Spice Latte was first launched in 2003 at 100 select locations in Vancouver and Washington, D.C. before expanding to stores nationwide.” Yet, the growing popularity has skyrocketed since 2018. Women began to post Instagram photos of themselves in thick blanket scarves and knee-high riding boots with their PSLs as an accessory. Immediately, these women began being made fun of; people posted calling it “Christian Girl Fall” and bullying women of color who also dressed this way, calling them “white-washed.” Despite all the items being on trend for the time, any woman who posted in scarves, leggings, and Ugg boots was immediately targeted. Men began posting skits of themselves acting hysterically over pumpkins and fall, labeling themselves as women. These immediately went viral on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
A Buzzfeed article was posted titled “25 Things All Basic White Girls Do During The Fall” in which they make fun of the scarves and the beloved drinks, amounting them to “basic.” Explaining the frustration, Rebecca Jennings on Vox wrote, “In the most stereotypical (and by now probably outdated) terms, a ‘basic bitch’ wears North Face, leggings, and Uggs, and absolutely adores hashtag-PSLs, marking her as a woman with ‘a girlish interest in seasonal changes and an unsophisticated penchant for sweet,’ as the Cut noted back in 2014.”
Why does this happen? Let’s look at another example of women being bullied online for liking things. In 2009, Justin Bieber grew to fame after being discovered on YouTube. Across the globe, young women began to follow him and supported his music; this fan base became known as “Beliebers.” A Wall Street Journal article by Melinda Beck in 2012 critiqued the “Bieber Fever” his fans had, equating the excitement and dedication to a pandemic. Young fans began to be called “crazy,” “obsessive,” and “hysteric.” The author even brought in scientific evidence to explain why this girls acted the way that they did about Justin Bieber.
Why did the media of the time degrade young fans of Justin Bieber and equated their desire to hysteria, but highlighted and uplifted the reaction men and boys had to winning sports games. In 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Jason Gay in which he descirbes the reaction from fans as “unbridled human joy.” In reality, the fans lit the streets on fire and rioted in celebration… pretty violent and irrational if you ask me. This is very contrasted to the way the same publication described Bieber fans.
Things women like are constantly seen as silly or degraded in the media. This will continue to happen because women’s likes are trivial to the mass media… yet they create most of pop culture. Justin Bieber has been the biggest influence on pop music and pop culture since Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. Pumpkin spice lattes take over the coffee game when September hits. Grocery stores are lined with orange boxes and pumpkin flavored goodies. Yet all because the trend is feminine coded, the media must make fun of it. Can we not like anything without it being turned into an internet meme? Probably not.