If you’ve noticed that your tween or teen girl has been regularly wearing a uniform of oversized T-shirts, Birkenstock sandals, shell necklaces and messy buns held in place with scrunchies, she may be a VSCO girl — especially if she’s been begging for you to splurge on a $50 Hydro Flask.
She’s a popular, trendy girl, and popular, trendy girls have walked the halls of high schools for as long as these schools have existed. They usually look the same, talk the same and wear the same things. But what’s different about the social media-centric world we’re living in now is that VSCO girls were named, standardised and meme’d so fast that they were trendy one moment and a parody of themselves the next.
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Where did the term “VSCO girl” come from?
You may already know that VSCO (pronounced “visco”) is actually a photo editing and sharing app. A place where you try to make your photos look really good — but in an effortless way, of course. Much like teenage girls themselves. So a “VSCO girl” was a playful name for someone who tried too hard to make her photo feed look cool or to become internet-famous.
The term began describing a certain type of girl with a specific trendy look when it made its way to TikTok, the short-form social media video app that is hugely popular among teens. There are now millions of videos — largely parodies — with the hashtags #VSCO or #VSCOgirls that have been viewed billions of times.
The VSCO vibe
VSCO girls are primarily middle or upper-class white girls who have a laid back, beachy vibe with an environmentalist slant. Their wardrobe, as described by the New York Times, is very brand-specific (hence being middle or upper class in order to pull it off):
Which is to say, the VSCO-girl lifestyle is less about the app itself than accouterments like Crocs (decorated with charms); handmade Pura Vida bracelets; the aforementioned Hydro Flasks (covered in stickers); Fjällräven Kånken backpacks; Burt’s Bees and Carmex lip balms; Vans sneakers; and Mario Badescu facial spray. Often the companies are tagged in Instagram posts, blurring the line between appreciation and endorsement.
They use metal straws, they famously want to “save the turtles,” and they have two predominate sayings:
1. “Sksksksksk,” which is meant to convey “surprise, happiness and other intense emotions.” It originated as a sort of “keysmash” to express those big emotions or reactions (like a new version of “omg” or “I can’t even”) and was predominantly used in black and LGBTQ communities.
Does your daughter want to be a VSCO girl?
If you’ve suddenly noticed your daughter saying these phrases or wearing scrunchies halfway up to her elbow, she may be trying to become a VSCO girl. Despite all the internet mocking, in many schools, the “cool girls” are still embracing this trend, and their peers may want to emulate them — and their seemingly flawless, carefree VSCO-esque images on Instagram or other social media sites.
But if you’re daughter’s trying to jump on the VSCO bandwagon, it’s ok. As oddly specific as the choice of clothing, phrases and principles may be, it’s all pretty positive. VSCO girls give off an empowering air of, “IDGAF what you think of me.” And girls could always use a little more of that, even if posting so many images online or spending 15 minutes trying to get that messy bun just right probably indicates they do care what others think of them, at least a little.
Plus, stainless steel straws are a good thing, and as long as they’re saving the turtles, maybe they could look into saving the bees, too. These VSCO girls might one day be the heroes who tackle climate change for us. As far as trends go, we could do worse. Maybe make them save up their own allowance for that Hydro Flask, though.
Why your son might also wear scrunchies
If your son has started wearing scrunchies, he might be trying to be a VSCO girl, too... or, more likely, it was given to him by a crush. At least, that’s the secret one North Carolina mum discovered after she asked her son why she kept finding scrunchies around the house.
So if you seem to be constantly replenishing your daughter’s scrunchie stash, she may be losing them around town or she may be giving them away as tokens of her affection. It’s this generation’s version of the letterman jacket or the notes we passed in class that said, “Do you like me? Check yes, no or maybe.”
Are VSCO girls here to stay?
No trend stays forever, but this one in particular could have a short shelf life because it became a joke almost as soon as it was born. Some girls even told Slate that they’re purposely changing how they talk and dress so they’re not mistaken for a VSCO girl:
Emely said she now abstains from wearing scrunchies to school. She also used to like saying “sksksksk” and “And I oop.” Not anymore. “Even when random girls at school say it, everyone’s like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a VSCO girl,’ so I couldn’t say it,” she said. Cassandra, meanwhile, has given up on a wardrobe staple: “I’ve been wearing oversized shirts since seventh grade, but I stopped recently, because of the VSCO girls. I don’t want to be associated with them,” she said.
But for now, they’re still out there, sksksksking their hearts out.