The Rise of the RHS VSCO Girl

A new type of girl has begun to populate RHS: the VSCO girl. For the few that have no idea what I’m talking about, let me take you back to where this all started. VSCO is a photo editing app with a surprisingly wholesome concept: no numbers. You can’t view your follower count, you can’t comment on others’ photos, and while others can “favorite” photos, VSCO doesn’t record how many each receives. However, the app soon became associated with a trend-seeking, female user stereotype which has now transcended its humble platform to become both a meme and an identity. A classic VSCO girl can be identified by her sticker-adorned Hydroflask, Birkenstocks, messy bun, Fjällräven backpack (preferably packed with Mario Badescu facial mist, a few metal straws, and an assortment of chapstick), as well as her scrunchie-lined arms. Typical outings may include jeep rides to take cute photos of sunsets with her friends using a disposable camera and sleepovers surrounded by wall hangings dripping in the glow of string lights. No longer confined to VSCO, she can be spotted anywhere from TikTok, to the aisles of a Brandy Melville, and even at RHS.

As summer break came to an end and students repopulated the halls of our beloved learning institution, something seemed different. Desks and lunch tables seemed suddenly crowded with a diverse array of Hydroflasks. Amidst the hum of mid-day conversation, new words seemed to float through the campus center and the caf — and they weren’t the type of things one might see on a flashcard for English class. VSCO girl vocabulary terms and phrases like “sksksksksk,” “and I oop,” and “periodt” seemed to stick out like sore thumbs. As a new subculture, VSCO girls seem to have their own characteristic language which emphasizes that they are quirky and not like other girls. To understand more about our local chapter, I spoke with RHS senior and resident VSCO girl Aidan Williamson. Our conversation is transcribed below:

Emily: Okay Aidan, what does being a VSCO girl mean to you?

Aidan: Being a VSCO girl is stupid. Periodt.

E: Interesting. Do you struggle with your identity as a VSCO girl?

A: I identify more as le monke. Uh oh, stinky.

E: (laughs)

A: But personally, I also believe that e-girls are more important.

My talk with Aidan seemed only to lead to more questions, dragging me deeper into what seems to be a complex labyrinth of self-referential internet culture. What is a “le monke,” and more importantly, who are these “e-girls” that Aidan seems to selflessly consider more important than her own identity? Well, le monke revealed itself as a confusing internet meme of an orangutan whose mention served as proof of Aidan’s quirky nature. A quick google search for “what is an e-girl” opened my eyes to the emerging VSCO girl counterculture of thick black eyeliner wings, septum piercings, two-toned hair, and an affinity for Lil Peep. Unlike with other counterculture movements, the VSCO girls seem to have a respect for their e-girl counterparts and what they have created. 

In some ways, the VSCO girl movement and associated e-girl movement seem akin to a metaphor about American society. There is something almost beautiful about the ability of these two seemingly-polar-opposite TikTok sects to co-exist on one social media platform and bond over a shared love of Billie Eilish. On a deeper level, it gives me renewed confidence in my generation’s ability to repair the divide which permeates our political system. So, next time you see a VSCO girl walking the halls of RHS, thank her for saving the turtles with her ardent use of the metal straw in her Fjällräven and give her the respect she deserves.

Emily Ertle
staff writer

Graphic: Sofia Lee

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