“I know VSCO is just an app and you can’t actually be, like, a VSCO person,” said 15-year-old Emma Marie in her July YouTube video titled “The Ultimate VSCO Sleepover.”
“It just became a thing.”
A VSCO girl, pronounced ‘visco girl,’ is something I’m sure most people reading this understand. Dictionary.com defines the term as “generally used as an insult for a young, usually white woman who posts trendy pictures of herself edited on the app VSCO.”
While the photo editing app VSCO might be what be what inspired the name or title, VSCO girls are more tangibly known for wearing scrunchies and Birkenstock sandals, dressing in loungewear, posting selfies with relatable captions about themselves online, saying “sksksk” and being environmentally conscious.
I can’t remember exactly when I heard the term for the first time, but I remember thinking how oddly specific it was.
I think the word really started to achieve viral status with the help of the social media app Tik Tok, which allows users to scroll through short videos, much like the older and discontinued Vine. There are almost 500 million videos on the app with the hashtag #vscogirl, most of which are parody videos making fun of the aesthetic.
What’s interesting about these VSCO girl memes is that a large portion of the parodies feature young women making fun of the trend in a self-deprecating way, which incorporates another identifying characteristic into the VSCO girl identity.
The official VSCO company doesn’t want to take credit for the phenomenon, said spokeswoman Juile Inouye to the New York Times. “It’s actually teenage girls [that are] starting it. They started to tie in these things that they own.”
What’s really fascinating about this characterization is just how fervently it’s circulating into pop culture. News outlets such as The New York Times and NBC have written about the trend in a more explanatory manner, while fashion magazines like Seventeen and Elle have reported on how exactly to transform yourself into the style. Fox has even published articles explaining the financial burden becoming a VSCO girl can impose on those purchasing the necessary supplies.
When I think of how the term VSCO girl has permeated pop culture, I can’t help but think that this will become an enduring stereotype of Gen Z.
Business Insider reporter Hillary Hoffower remarked that “the VSCO girl” was the first trend that reminded her that she and her fellow millennials were getting older. She also noted the stark contrast between the VSCO girl style and her teenage trendy style. “My middle school ‘emo’ phase of Converse and black-studded belts evolved into a closet of seagull-emblazoned Hollister jeans and over-priced Abercrombie & Fitch shirts during high school.”
Are we gonna look back in 10 years, reminiscing about the comical cultural trend of the VSCO girl, just like we do today about the Aeropostale T-shirts and Hollister jeans trends of 10 years ago? Probably. That’s just the way pop culture works, I suppose. Things and trends continually ebb and flow, and this is just the latest, albeit very prominent, trend that will fade and be remembered nostalgically in a couple of years.