Merriam-Webster defines the “VSCO girl” as...
Well, actually, Merriam-Webster doesn’t actually have a definition for VSCO girl available. But Urban Dictionary, on the other hand, defines the VSCO girl as “the Tumblr girls of 2019.” They are the heirs to the scrunchie, crop-top, and white Vans look popularized on Instagram and photo blogs, the perennial beach-ready influencers of modern social media.
The average VSCO girl is a devoted student and user of the VSCO photo editing app, which became popular for its sunny, faded, SoCal-inspired photo filters. VSCO has about 20 million active weekly users, The New York Times reports, though the company does not take credit for the VSCO girl aesthetic — they say it’s all coming from the teenage girls who use the app.
Most social media users have likely come across a VSCO girl or two on their feeds. Along with casual fashion choices such as the aforementioned scrunchies and crop tops, or tube tops and baggy, faded graphic tees, the VSCO girl is also often associated with certain brands and styles. They like Vans, Crocs, and Birkenstocks — all the better for the beach, of course, which they drive to in their Jeeps. They carry their reusable metal straws and eco-friendly Hydro Flasks (often decorated with stickers) in their Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, right next to their Apple AirPods and Fujifilm Instax cameras. They wear puka shell necklaces, Pura Vida bracelets, and wire hair elastics, and they touch up their makeup-free looks with Carmex lip balm and Mario Badescu facial spray. They regularly use internet-made slang, such as “sksksk” or “and I oop,” in captions and conversation. They’re vocal about their environmental consciousness and are often young, white, skinny, and blonde.
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Like any other extremely online phenomenon, the VSCO girl is a caricature of certain trends and styles that became massively popular on the social media platform of record — in 2019, that’s Instagram and TikTok, and the VSCO girl aesthetic does incredibly well at racking up likes, views, and comments.
That also means that it’s ripe for parody. Memes have flooded the internet — the #vscogirl tag on Instagram alone has more than a million posts, most of them ironic, and Twitter users often speculate about VSCO girl behavior. Likewise, VSCO girl “transformations” are prevalent on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.