Over the last month, I’ve been on an odyssey that’s opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It’s not a fitness journey, or an Eat, Pray, Love type of situation, but rather, a journey that’s taken place entirely on my phone. I’m talking about TikTok. Yes, TikTok. Aside from all the people I already told you to follow, TikTok has been an enlightening look into a younger generation, one that’s grown up fully attached to technology, and it’s jarring.
There are whole teen subcultures that you’ve probably never heard of, with layered stereotypes and characteristics. The one I find most personally interesting are E-girls and E-boys, which I’ll get to in another article soon (buckle up), but the group that’s starting to get the most mainstream attention are the VSCO girls. What are VSCO girls? Let’s get into it, and like, get ready to feel reallyyyy f*cking old.
Before we dive into the “girls” part, let’s quickly cover VSCO. As you likely know, VSCO is a camera and photo editing app, known for its hazy, grainy filters that negate the fact that your iPhone camera is actually very good. You definitely know a couple of ~artsy~ girls who use VSCO for all their Instagram pics, but for people born post-1996, it’s a phenomenon. You can also share your photos within the app, but we’re not really here to talk about the app itself.
Now you know what VSCO is, so what are VSCO girls? Basically, imagine you’re in Mean Girls and walking through the cafeteria: VSCO girls would now be one of the tables you would com across. VSCO girls were born from the app, but they’ve grown into so much more. While using the VSCO app is an integral part of the VSCO girl identity, there are a number of other key identifiers:
-Scrunchies. Scrunchies in the hair, scrunchies on the wrists, just generally many scrunchies.
-Hydroflasks. You know, the metal water bottles that are heavy enough to be lethal weapons. The handles on these bottles are perfect for attaching the end of a friendship bracelet while you’re working on it, as VSCO girls love to do.
-Stickers on Hydroflasks. The water bottle is a start, but true VSCO girls deck them out in vinyl stickers.
-“Sksksksk.” The VSCO girl mating call. It’s like the Gen-Z equivalent of when you used to type “asdfghjkl” to express that you’re overcome with emotion—also similar to saying “I’m screaming” when you’re not, in fact, screaming.
-“And I oop.” The other VSCO girl mating call. This phrase was first coined by drag queen Jasmine Masters, so naturally it’s been co-opted by teenage white girls driving around in their mom’s Jeep.
-Metal straws. Because most VSCO girls are still only like 16, they don’t have a lot to worry about. But they definitely are worried about saving the turtles! VSCO girls are constantly talking about saving the turtles, which is why they carry metal straws everywhere they go. Usually the fancy ones that collapse down and come with a case.
absolutely not a soul:
vsco girls: pic.twitter.com/q9rAEn4bW8
— vic (@chilloutvic) August 9, 2019
Those are the primary traits, but there are a lot of other things that are broadly associated with VSCO girls. These include Vans sneakers, Fjallraven backpacks, oversize T-shirts and sweatshirts, Polaroid cameras, puka shell jewelry, rosewater spray, and Birkenstocks. If a lot of these things sound low-key normal, that’s because they are. Being a VSCO girl isn’t about being weird or different, it’s about being the same as everyone else. Half of these things were popular in the 2000s, but most of these girls are too young to even remember that.
When it comes down to it, it’s not that important for us adults to understand exactly what teens are getting into these days. That’s why I only follow people who are 18 or older on TikTok, because I just can’t be invested in what a 15-year-old is doing. But the concept of a VSCO girl really isn’t different from anything that was going on when we were in high school. There were always goth girls, or hipsters, or any number of other groups that you either fit into or actively made fun of. It’s the circle of life.
tumblr girls walked so vsco girls could run
— sim1 (@simoneeorlando) August 9, 2019
Actually, VSCO girls really aren’t that different from the norm-core aesthetic that’s been around for years, but most VSCO girls are too young to actually know what that is. But while norm-core is a low-key style that usually feels pretty natural, VSCO girls do the absolute most. It’s all about trying super hard to have the most scrunchies, the coolest stickers on their Hydroflask, and do the most to #SaveTheTurtles.
there’s a vsco girl in all of us, some just choose not to unleash her
— James (@CaucasianJames) September 17, 2019
But even if you’re not going to download TikTok and get fully immersed in the world of VSCO girls, you can at least laugh at some of the excellent memes and tweets about them. Personally, my number one goal in life is to be a suburban wine mom, so I’m considering buying a Hydroflask to begin this journey. Am I okay? Probably not, but please respect my privacy in this time of crisis.
vsco girls grow up to become suburban wine moms
— flan (@jelloflan) August 7, 2019
As always, I’ll be on the lookout for more teen things that you definitely need to know about, because Gen-Z is basically like, a different species. But for now, enjoy trying to explain to your boyfriend/mom/group chat when they text you asking, “what are VSCO girls???” You might not feel like an eskskskskpert, but at least you won’t be totally clueless.
Images: chilloutvic, simoneeorlando, caucasianjames, jelloflan / Twitter