It seems like just yesterday when the alarm would go off at 6 a.m., I’d roll out of bed and throw my hair up in my favorite scrunchie, slip on my oversized t-shirt and head off to school. I toted a Jansport backpack and a slew of friendship bracelets and shell necklaces were my favorite accessories. A little Caramex balm on my lips and I was out.
Except this is the exact same look I see on my three teen daughters every morning as they sit across from me at the kitchen counter.
Enter the age of the VSCO (pronounced “visco”) girl, also known as my teenage years rebooted.
If you are not living with a tween or teen whose sticker-covered Hydro Flask has dented your floors (And I oop), you may not know what this VSCO stuff is. Basically, take every 90s trend you can think of and put it on one modern teenager—except spiral perms and big bangs which have not made an appearance . . . yet.
VSCO is actually a photo editing app used predominantly to create a consistent social media aesthetic, but is now used in a more generalized manner to describe teen girls who post pictures and videos on Insta and TikTok with their eco-conscious metal straws and birkenstocks.
And scrunchies. So many scrunchies.
These VSCO girls work hard for an effortless, laid-back, beachy look that my mom coined in the 90s as sloppy.
“Please, can you just tuck your shirt in,” my mother would beg as she watched me go out the door in my favorite gigantic t-shirt and jean shorts, extra scrunchies on each wrist.
“But mom, this is how everyone dresses,” I would yell back over my shoulder.
And it was.
Which is ironic considering how much flack today’s VSCO-obsessed young girls are getting. In fact, there is an entire subculture dedicated to mocking these young females all over the internet. Even their scrunchies.
When I explain to my girls that their cutting-edge looks were also my fashion staples, I get a “sksksksksksk” which is VSCO code for laughing at something dumb.
But truth be told, I love it. My daughter gets her scrunchies at the corner drugstore, just like I did.
For most adults, however, like any teenage trend since the dawn of time, it’s driving them mad. Some are talking about the pervasive costs associated with the high-end brands these teens covet and others are discussing the promotion of lesbian culture and still others are stating how it is a front for organizations focused on climate change.
Critics claim VSCO is synonymous with basic and boring, and the girls following this culture are more concerned with getting the right photo than any cause they may be promoting.
And just like all the teenage girls coming before them, they can’t win no matter how hard they try.
For most of these girls, whether they want to be VSCO or not, they are just capitalizing on what’s hot at the moment. I mean, where would we be if we didn’t have teenagers to tell us what is cool, even if it’s what their moms used to wear?
But this VSCO mom sees it differently. As I watch my daughters and her friends take the perfect selfies with just the right backdrop, it’s the ever-present quest of a teenage girl trying to find out who she is while desperately seeking to fit in.
I may not wear my scrunchies anymore, but I remember that feeling well.
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