VSCO girl

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What does VSCO girl mean?

VSCO girl is a term, generally used as an insult, for a young, usually white woman who posts trendy pictures of herself edited on the app VSCO.

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Stereotypes of the VSCO girl include wearing scrunchies and Birkenstock sandals, drinking out of Hydro Flask reusable water canisters, saying sksksk and I oop, and generally seeking attention online.

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Examples of VSCO girl

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Examples of VSCO girl
we all grew up from “basic white girl” with uggs and starbucks to “vsco girl” with puka shell necklaces and birkenstock’s
@Emilia_underwd, July 2019
If I buy 42 hair scrunchies off of Amazon do you think I’d be vsco girl enough? Wtf I just want to know why my credit card and I agreed on that purchase!!
@okay_louise, July 2019
Now, on the precipice of the Year of Our Lord 2020, the latest stereotype used to malign and mock burgeoning teenage female identity is that of the VSCO girl, a meme that originated among teens using the app TikTok that has now infiltrated the mainstream.
EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone, September 2019

Where does VSCO girl come from?

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Since launching in 2011, the app VSCO (formerly VSCO cam) has allowed users to edit photos and videos with preset filters and other tools, which they then share on the app itself or on other social media, such as Instagram.

We can find the phrase VSCO girl in 2017–2018. Some of these instances apply the term to describe a young woman who is a loyal user of the app. Other instances use VSCO girl, likely with an ironic tone, for a young, white woman who posts perfectly—and enviably—attractive pictures online. (The phrase calls up similar constructions like Tumblr girl, e-girl, and Tinderella, as well as Valley girl and preppy girl before them.)

This latter use of VSCO girl anticipates how the term evolved in 2019. In January 2019, YouTube user Greer Jones posted a satirical video in which she explained how to become “the ultimate VSCO girl.” This included trying to become famous or go viral by posting a lot of pictures involving designer clothes (e.g., Nike Air Force 1 shoes and Lululemon athleisure wear) and lifestyle trends (drinking coffee with oat milk).

By summer 2019, the term VSCO girl spread as a slang insult online as more social videos on YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms stereotyped her as an obsessively trendy, vain young woman. VSCO itself praised, perhaps ironically, one mocking “VSCO girl transformation” video, posted in June 2019 and since earning over 1.5 million views. The first Urban Dictionary entry for VSCO girl was published in July 2019, and articles on several popular websites were considering the term and trend by August.

Trends especially mocked center on a beach-y, 1990s aesthetic popular in the 2010s, including scrunchies, the color yellow, friendship bracelets, high-waisted jean shorts, baggy tie-dye tops, Birkenstock sandals. Lifestyle trends include health fads, using eco-friendly products, drinking out of Hydro Flask water canisters, using disposable cameras, and taking pictures of hangouts with friends in coyly free-spirited poses.

The terms sksksk and I oop are also associated with the stereotypical VSCO girl. The former is meant as an expression of excitement or awkwardness, the latter a playful way to acknowledge a mistake. Both of these expressions, however, have been traced back to Black female, drag, and/or LGBTQ communities.

The underlying implication of the insult VSCO girl is that she is white, relatively rich, conformist, and obsessed with social media—that’s she’s basic, to use another slang term, but according to the perceived fashion and lifestyle trends among young, white women in the late 2010s.

Who uses VSCO girl?

In early 2019, some young women earnestly used VSCO girl when describing themselves or outfits when posting pictures online.

However, VSCO girl has generally become as a mocking meme and insult, roughly equivalent to basic bitch. The term may refer to a particular young woman perceived to be as a VSCO girl or to refer to stereotypical VSCO girl look and lifestyle.

Some people online have pushed back against the insult of VSCO girl, considering it mean-spirited or embracing (often ironically) some of its aesthetics in spite of the mockery.

The hashtag #vscogirl is a very popular on social media, with over one million results on Instagram and getting nearly 300 million views on TikTok.

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