The VSCO Girl phenomenon is no joke

Why and how teenage girls are being turned into tropes

Teenage girls shouldn't be ridiculed for having harmless interests.
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For as long as the Internet has existed, and probably before, there’s always been a type of “girl” that embodies the trends of the younger generations. We’ve seen the Tumblr girl, the basic bitch, and the E-girl, among others.

Now, the VSCO girl has taken the throne.

VSCO girls are known for wearing Birkenstocks or Crocs, drinking out of Hydro Flasks, sporting scrunchies on their wrists, making friendship bracelets, using Internet phrases like “sksksk” and “and I oop,” and donning oversized T-shirts. The elusive VSCO girl—named after the popular photo-editing app—has emerged as the most recent category of young woman to be ridiculed online.

I’m writing this article while wearing Birkenstocks, with a scrunchie on my wrist and my Hydro Flask next to me. Naturally, I’ve suddenly found myself being called a VSCO girl or being asked to say “sksksk” by friends in the past few weeks.

I’ll admit, I found this trend and my friends’ teasing funny when I first saw it making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook through memes. On the other hand, I also felt bitter, because I didn’t see my fashion sense or environmental interests as a “brand” or a “style.” I was resentful of these so-called VSCO girls for making a farce of it all.

But then I realized that it wasn’t these teenagers who were turning bracelet-making and metal straw-sipping into a meme. It was the Internet’s comedy economy, which has warped the trend of authenticity and comfortable fashion into a trope to be laughed at.

It isn’t uncommon for teenage girls to find their interests ridiculed online for no reason other than because they’re teenage girls. One Direction, Justin Bieber, and (once upon a time) the Beatles have been the brunt of jokes in media almost entirely because their main demographic was young women.

There’s a pervasive idea in society that anything admired by teenage girls loses value, and it persists today with VSCO girls. As a Cosmopolitan article put it, “do we really need to [...] dismiss a whole new generation of girls just for wearing shell anklets and owning reusable coffee cups?”

I’ve enjoyed being the brunt of jokes about VSCO girls—if only because I can tell people I was ahead of the trend—but I’m an adult. I’ve learned to embrace my interests and not care about what others think. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be a high-school-age girl and get bullied online simply for following a fad or liking a certain type of water bottle.

The Internet can be a powerful force when it comes to protesting injustice, naming criminals, and spreading social campaigns like the #MeToo movement. So there’s no excuse for choosing to direct this power at teenage girls who are minding their own business, living their best lives, and making Polaroid collages on their bedroom walls.

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