If you don’t know what a VSCO (pronounced “visco”) girl is, you’ve obviously been living under a rock for the past six months, so quick – find a teenage girl and she’ll break it all down for you.

My 13-year-old niece, who definitely is one, if you believe the proper Buzzfeed quiz results, which BTW, can help anyone sort out their life in a matter of minutes, tried to explain the whole VSCO girl phenomenon to me this summer.

I’m not really sure why it became a Thing, because it’s actually just teenage girls doing a lot of things that many other people do as well, but everything in life must turn into a Thing these days because it has been decreed by social media and our 24/7 news cycle.

As my niece listed off the required lifestyle choices that VSCO girls embrace, I had to laugh because my friends and I were OG VSCO girls, decades before the internet and photo editing apps even existed. We just didn’t know it, clueless and barely surviving in a pre-Twitter age.

I grew up in coastal California and loved the beach. Hydroflasks didn’t exist yet, but I had turtle stickers on my school folders. I wore Jellies, the 70’s version of Crocs.  I made friendship bracelets with my – you guessed it – friends. I am legit wearing a puka shell necklace in my 4th grade school photo, and I’d share that image but I think I probably burned all the copies of it since I was growing out my shag haircut and had trimmed my own bangs. Not a super attractive look.

Anyway, the trends of “basic bitch” tweens and teens never really became of-the-moment cultural sensations back in the day – until the Preppy Handbook came out in 1980. So, all you VSCO girls out there are in a unique position to do some good while the flighty attention of the internet is upon you.

Set down your smartphones and listen up.

I challenge you to embrace your moment in the sun, turn the other cheek to those who might be ridiculing you, and actually attempt to make a difference in this effed-up world. In other words, put your money where your metal straws are stuck and do something besides buying more scrunchies. Google overconsumption. Read and think. Do you really need a fifth sweatshirt from Brandy Melville?

If you truly care about turtles and other sea creatures, really educate yourselves about habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. Find a legitimate charity, like the Sea Turtle Conservancy, gather your friends and raise funds to make some donations.

If you actually care about the ill-effects of plastic straws and bottles, don’t just toss your Frappuccino cups in the trash. Be mindful about recycling all of the varied plastic, glass, and cardboard in your family’s home. And turn off the light when you leave a damn room. Think about walking somewhere instead of asking for a ride.

If you’re genuinely concerned with healthy skin and lips – we see that Mario Badescu facial spray and all those Burt’s Bees lip balms in your backpack – please get in the habit of always wearing sunscreen and a hat when you’re out taking your Instagram shots on the beach. Learn about melanoma and have your skin checked once a year. Frequent tanning turns into prematurely aged skin, which is not a fun thing later in life. Avoid tanning beds. I speak from experience. (And while I’m at it, please don’t vape.)

If you spend countless hours on TikTok hoping to become famous and get paid bank to perform your life, remember a few things: 1) Be kind – the world already has more than enough online bullies and asshats. 2) Very few people can sustain a career from monetizing followers. Success in life is usually the result of many years of hard work and finding meaning in what you do. 3) Also, beware of creepers who just get off on watching young girls. Eww.

If you often speak using meaningless and trendy lingo like the bizarre “sksksksk,” learn how to read a room. Your friends may think it’s funny and we get it – teens since the dawn of time have used their own quirky lingo to communicate, but your teachers and bosses probably won’t think it’s cute, so know when to use and not abuse.

So, VSCO girls, have your fun, keep gramming your sunset pics, and enjoy your comfy footwear. The internet will slowly lose its fixation on you and move on to the next Thing. But if you wish to be remembered fondly, be kind – to your planet, your friends, yourself, and especially to those who don’t “get” you.

Because one day soon you may have kids of your own, and you’ll want them to be healthy and accepted, no matter how they appear to others.

And save a few of those scrunchies, because they’ll be back in style in 30 years.




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