What’s a ‘VSCO Girl’ (And Why Are Your Kids Mocking Them)?

The trend is all over social media and features fashion laden with scrunchies, friendship bracelets and pricey brands. Have you heard of it?

If scrunchies, oversized tees, a pair of Birkenstocks and a Fjällräven bag were on your daughter’s back-to-school shopping list this season, you’re not alone – but you might have a “VSCO girl” on your hands.

In case you haven’t heard it yet – which is unlikely, if your kids are on TikTok or any other social media – the term supposedly refers to a girl who wears these items along with things like friendship bracelets and a puka shell necklace (yes, the puka shell is back) and who wears her hair in a messy bun, Refinery 29 notes.

As the stereotype goes, a VSCO – pronounced “vis-co” – girl would also have an eco-friendly Hydro Flask or a metal straw on hand to help “save the turtles,” and she’d think Jeep Wranglers are super-cool. She’s basically “the basic bitch’s younger, cooler cousin,” as one Cosmopolitan article puts it.

With “VSCO girl” quickly becoming a household term for many families – and kids even talking about going as VSCO girls for Halloween – it’s time for parents to get a grasp on what this trend is all about.

What it means

Now that you know the trendy gear associated with the term, you’re probably wondering what VSCO even means. VSCO is a photo-editing app, the Daily Dot reports, and half of its more than 2 million subscribers are under the age of 25 – though the app apparently has nothing to do with the term “VSCO girl” taking off.

The trend seems to be most popular among middle school, high school and college-age students and emphasizes a laid-back, “beachy” vibe, CNBC explains.

“The VSCO girl is largely driven by a uniform look, and wanting to look exactly like you fit into a crowd,” Romney Jacobs, director of client services at trend forecaster The Doneger Group, recently told CNBC. Since this trend involves a “very specific aesthetic” with specific brand-name items, the trend points to a “broader shift in teen culture to strong brand associations,” CNBC reports.

The mocking

Despite the popularity of the look, making fun of the VSCO girl aesthetic may be trending even more. Young people are having fun with the stereotype, posting satirical “VSCO girl transformation” videos on YouTube and coming up with a whole language of how VSCO girls supposedly talk (like making a “sksksk” laughing noise).

But as Cosmopolitan points out in its recent article, the ridicule of the so-called VSCO girl – and the fact that it’s even a term to begin with – may just be part of the cycle of “reducing women down to a singular social media identify based on their looks and likes.”

“Do we really need to outright dismiss a whole new generation of girls just for wearing shell anklets and owning reusable coffee cups?” the article notes. “Intentionally or not, we’re making this group of starry-eyed girls feel self-conscious for…what, exactly? Everything?”

The gear

So if mom jeans, baggy T-shirts and eco-friendly water bottles don’t seem like the worst things your teen could be interested in, you might not mind if your daughter wants to jump on the VSCO bandwagon. Here’s a look at a few of the products they might be asking for – and how much they’ll set you back.

  1. Hydro Flask makes vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottles that are eco-friendly and come in plenty of color and size options. The 32-ounce version runs $49.95 at hydroflask.com.
  2. The trendy (and functional) Kånken Rucksack by Fjällräven goes for $70 at fjallraven.us.
  3. Scrunchies, fortunately, are much easier on the budget – which is a good thing, since your kid will probably want lots. Get a 50-pack of velvet scrunchies on Amazon for $7.99.

This post was originally published in 2019 and is updated regularly. 


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