What the Heck’s a VSCO Girl?


What the heck’s a VSCO girl? I have never felt as old as I did when I asked this question. My boyfriend’s two little sisters walked up to us going, “sksksksks” and “and I oop” over and over again until we were forced to ask what on earth they were saying. They turned to us and, with the utmost sincerity, stated that they were acting like VSCO (pronounced vis-coh) girls. When asked what that was, they simply explained that it is someone who says the aforementioned phrases. Needless to say, I was thoroughly confused and felt as though I had aged 20 years.

For those of you who are as confused as I was, allow me to paint a better picture. A VSCO girl is best described as a fashion and behavioural archetype categorized by scrunchies, Birkenstock sandals, Hydro Flasks and stale meme quotes. Many of the branded hallmarks of a so-called VSCO girl come with quite a hefty price tag. The Fjällräven Kånken bag ranges from $70 to over $100, the Birkenstock sandals are roughly $100, and the smallest size of a Hydro Flask bottle is currently around $30.

The origin of the name is from the photo editing app VSCO, which is often used by self-proclaimed Instagram models and social media influencers presenting a highly curated laid back look. Although the ingredients for this stereotype have been around for quite a while, creators on Tik Tok can be credited with putting it all together and churning out the newest slang.

Sometimes considered attention seekers, VSCO girls can be seen as an upgrade to the “basic white girl.” Instead of pumpkin spiced lattes and Ugg boots, the hip kids today love Fjällräven Kånken backpacks and puka shell necklaces. However, at its core, the two are practically the same. In truth, there seems to be a larger trend at play here. No matter what the minutiae of the exact term is, the archetype always seems to revolve around mostly white and middle class teenage girls. The media fixation with this demographic, and their media and brand consumption is astounding considering how little weight their opinions and words carry.

Like hipster, emo and all other slang before it, VSCO is sometimes used as an insult aimed at young girls for following a particular trend. It focuses on painting teen girls as vapid and vain — doing so without acknowledging their agency or experiences. A lot of these girls would consider themselves to be environmentally conscious, but that part seems to get overlooked with great ease. Metal straws and stainless steel canisters are being mocked as part of the VSCO girl’s ensemble, but these are potentially very good indicators that she thinks about the future and about making a difference in the world.

No matter what they’re called, such fashion and internet trends appear and disappear quickly. In fact, by the time I finish writing this, the term is probably already considered archaic if Google Trends is any indicator. Even so, the VSCO girl will live on and most likely be reincarnated again under a new name, this time making those after me feel old and outdated just like the Boomers before me.