Have We Reached Peak Picnic Bitch?

I first heard the term ‘picnic bitch’ at some vague point last year before the world had descended into absolute unprecedented unprecedentness. It was probably in a video from Ashley aka bestdressed, one of Syzz’s favourite loosely sustainable fashion bloggers, who happens to embody a good number of the picnic bitch traits. If we were to try and characterise picnic bitch—the way you’d create a taxonomy of the VSCO girl—I’d say it’s less a type of person and more a type of aesthetic.

Feminine, flirty, and a little bit retro is the picnic bitch vibe. Gingham, straw baskets and hats, and Reformation-y silhouettes are the requisite paraphernalia to achieve said vibe. And are you really a picnic bitch if you didn’t take your outfit picture while lying on a patch of grass—or a bedsheet, because who uses them anyway?—with a book or a bowl of strawberries in hand? Citrus fruits are also favoured in the whimsical PB diet.

While all of these familiar aesthetic markers have been skipping across our IG feeds for a while, never have I seen such a saturation of bitches picnicking. Where did it come from? Let us posit a couple of theories.

As well as spurring the adoption of many Victorian-era isolation hobbies, the quarantines induced by the pandemic have fuelled pastoral fantasies. You can barely breathe around cottagecore memes, which picnic bitch is a close aesthetic cousin to. There’s a definite comfort in idealised versions of life where we grow our own food, live in caring, neighbourly communities and spend our days drinking tea, foraging for berries and wild herbs for making tinctures. Surely coronavirus can’t get to us if we’re surrounded by fresh air, sunshine and I don’t know, a faerie inhabited wood? Cottagecore enthusiasts would say that it can’t. And there are absolutely no cops in these bucolic visions.

Picnic bitch is kind of an individualistic, achievable IRL take on this. We might not be able to retire to the countryside but we can create an impromptu moment of leisure in the sun. All you need is a blanket and your choice of accoutrement: fruits, books, dogs, friends etc.

Picnics are also a convenient and relatively safe type of quarantine catch-up, which I’m sure is also contributing to the rise of the picnic bitch. Even Chris Evans and his rumoured new beau, Lily James, made the case for the picnic date while eating ice-cream on the grass in London. (Conclusion: Captain America… is a picnic bitch?)

The more cynical take is that in the absence of cityscapes, hotel lobbies and chic cafes, the influencer machine has just found a very convenient new set up for outfit pictures. Unless there was always a solo table and chair in the above field? It’s worth noting as well that there’s definitely more of a coy sexuality about the picnic bitch aesthetic. The images say, “yes, I am reading alone in the sun, but it could be classic erotic literature for all you know.”

And why shouldn’t the picnic bitch enjoy a moment of respite in the sun and then the dopamine rush of IG likes? She’s socially distanced as fuck. As long as you’re wearing your SPF while getting your Vitamin D, we say picnic on bitch.

Monisha is a writer with a background in publishing and digital media. A chronic Pisces, she’s into trying to be a better person and sparkling water.