Exposing "VSCO Girl" Culture


The emergence of the term “VSCO girl” in late summer 2019 may have resonated with (or even called out) many of us on the Barnard/Columbia campus. Alluding to the stereotypical appearance and dress of girls who post on the popular photo-editing app, VSCO, the Internet exploded with Instagram “starter-packs” and checklists chiding this style of scrunchies, oversized shirts, and childlike jewelry. So how exactly did this label emerge and what are the telltale signs to recognizing one of these trendsetters? 


The origin of the term “VSCO girl” can be traced back to various sources. Some cite the viral “Tik Tok” videos which highlight characteristic accessories that are crucial in curating the image of a VSCO girl. Publications including Galore Magazine and Refinery29 began to spotlight this style before YouTube followed with transformation and day-in-the-life videos. While some people have gone to great lengths to adopt this aesthetic by clearing out the puka necklace display at Urban Outfitters or commuting all the way to the nearest Brandy Melville, others have found that their personal style is suddenly ridiculed as being “basic.” 

Components of a typical “VSCO girl”:

  1. 1. A giant Hydro Flask carefully adorned with multiple Red Bubble stickers.

    Favorite stickers include: save the environment, female empowerment, Save the Bees, Peppa Pig, and Crocs Shoes. Don’t mess with VSCO girls, because the sound of a Hydro Flask being dropped on the floor is ear piercing. 

  2. 2. A vast array of scrunchies worn exclusively on the wrist.

    VSCO girls DON’T use hair accessories in their hair, as they are for decorative use only. Whether the scrunchies were hand-selected from Free People or bought in bulk from a sketchy Amazon vendor, they are an important staple for the VSCO aesthetic.

  3. 3. Birkenstocks.

    Birkenstocks. They used to be the dorky ~God sandals~ you roasted your dad for wearing on the weekends, but now a pair of Birks is always the move. Don’t forget to pair it with a beaded friendship anklet made to look like you still attend summer camp.

  4. 4. Kanken backpacks.

    To be fair, who could resist the kawaii logo featuring a little red fox? But let’s be real: these token bags will run you a pretty penny. With the generic Kanken bag starting at a stiff price of $80, many wonder if this small backpack (which barely accommodates a laptop) is worth the price. It’s so cute though! 

  5. 5. Tube tops.

    Regardless of the occasion—Bacchanal weekend or an 8:40 AM anthropology class—VSCO girls can be seen sporting a flirty shoulderless top. Best when accompanied by thrifted jean shorts. 

Next time you spot a fellow VSCO girl, say hi! After all, so many of us at Barnard and Columbia are guilty of following at least one of these trends!