More than an app

A look into social media’s latest fashion craze and its impact on female students.


Caroline Barker

A Fjällräven backpack, a classic VSCO accessory, overflows with scrunchies and popular makeup products.

By Sumner Wallace, West High School

The soul-crushing sound of a Hydro Flask crashing against the worn tile floor sets off a chorus of “sksksks” and “and I oop’s” that echo around an otherwise silent classroom. These are the exclamations of a “VSCO girl.”

In the past few months, the concept of “VSCO girls” has become increasingly popular. Characterized by their oversized shirts, Birkenstocks, multiple scrunchies and their infamous Hydro Flasks, they have taken over not only the internet, but daily life as well.

They get their name from VSCO, a photo editing and sharing app that hides likes, comments and followers to alleviate the stress of traditional social media. This easy-going app blends seamlessly into the easy-going style associated with it. For some, however, this fashion trend has become a source of frustration and isolation.

Most recently, the term has become a catch-all category for anyone sporting an accessory related to the style. The class of 2023 has been dubbed the VSCO class, and they are bearing the brunt of this label. Gabrielle Burns ’23, despite having a fashion sense far from the oversized shirts of VSCO, is frustrated by this pigeon-holing.

“I hate that it has become this thing where if you have one thing from [the trend] then you’re automatically a VSCO girl,” Burns said. “That’s not how things work.”

TikTok, a popular video sharing app, has become the epicenter for mocking this craze. Users can see multiple iterations of a now commonplace sketch. A girl decked out in friendship bracelets shames the viewer for using a single-use plastic water bottle and offers up handfuls of her extra scrunchies and oversized shirts, all while periodically letting out a “sksksks.”

I think it’s kind of stupid to generalize a bunch of girls who happen to like the same thing. It’s just an app, I don’t think it should be a personality trait.”

— Katherine Yacopucci '20

The characterization in these TikToks is not so much a reflection of those who wear the style, as it is an exaggeration.

“There’s that whole thing of then everything a girl does, they get made fun of for it,” Burns said. “Can’t girls just like what they like?”

Katherine Yacopucci ’20, who can be seen on occasion wearing Birkenstocks and oversized shirts, shares the same sentiment.

“I think it’s kind of stupid to generalize a bunch of girls who happen to like the same thing. It’s just an app, I don’t think it should be a personality trait,” Yacopucci said.

This is not the first time a trend has been equated with a personality. Emos, Goths and others have all been subject to stereotypes and generalizations. However, the VSCO craze is unique due to its connection with social media. This trend doesn’t stop at the school door. TikTok, VSCO, and other social media sites put steady pressure on teenagers to join in.

Millennials and Generation Z are often said to have FOMO (the fear of missing out) defined by Google Dictionary as an “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” It is this fear and the constant media exposure that contributes to the spread of trends like this one.

All trends come and go, but the urge to fit in remains the same. “It definitely makes you feel lonely when you see everybody else dressing a certain way, and you’re just kind of alone. Everybody else is having fun in the pool, and you’re just like the kid on the chair,” Burns said.

Walking the halls of West, it is clear how pervasive “VSCO girl” culture is. However, there are some like Burns who, despite the pressure, are content with their personal style and believe subscribing to such a mainstream look could mean the loss of individuality.

“If you see the same thing [on] 15 girls, then you don’t really know who they are other than their name and [that] they like… water.”

This story was originally published on West Side Story on October 7, 2019.