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VSCO: More Than Shell Necklaces?

If you have been living under a rock for the past year or so- or aren’t a teenager- you are probably unfamiliar with the app VSCO. For the 1% of my audience who isn’t 15 years old, VSCO is a photo-editing app that provides presets and tools to enhance photos without having to use complicated or expensive programs like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. From the app’s 2011 release until a year-or-so ago, this mission was consistent throughout the app’s users. However, the VSCO my friends and I know and use is nothing like what I just described

In order to provide a clear contrast between VSCO’s actual purpose and what’s become of the app, I needed to find a good definition describing the shift the app’s made recently. Unfortunately, the only information I found was from Urban Dictionary, which is not the source I typically use. I can’t lie though, the most current Urban Dictionary definition of “VSCO” is pretty accurate: VSCO – where every girl gets in her feelings. realizes what a good relationship looks like. and finds the cutest things. makes you jealous of other people’s friendships.

Typical VSCO content. Call me the next time you see me and my friends doing this.

As cringey as it is, VSCO has turned into a social media platform where girls republish and favorite pictures of quotes relating to relationships and friends, relatable-ish memes, and lots of puppies, and guys holding the puppies. Taking a look at my feed right now, the first three posts are republishes of a mirror selfie of a blonde girl (who I don’t recognize but could be an influencer), a scene from the TV show Friends, and a picture saying, “Republish if you wish you were tan.”

Two girls who meet the VSCO definition in one way or another.


Yeah, definitely not the most profound content to say the least. However posts like these have flourished with this new wave of VSCO “culture.” This “culture” has been branded by teenage girls to relate amongst their issues (typically related to either boys, school, or their looks) and show that it’s okay not to be perfect. Or at least that’s what the super pretty girls on my feed wearing messy buns and oversized t-shirts are trying to tell me.

Girls are reposting memes to their feed as well as pictures of the new common, girl-next-door for my generation- the VSCO girl. My friends and I brainstormed some characteristics of a VSCO girl- she wears shell necklaces, tube tops from Brandy Melville, oversized t-shirts that cover her shorts, clumpy mascara, messy buns, and has blonde or brown hair, and is either tan, or wishing she was. What makes the VSCO girl so popular amongst my generation is supposedly how “average” she is. Forever, the ideal girl has been a model, which is completely unrealistic. While the qualities of a VSCO girl don’t apply to a majority of people, it still provides an achievable look for some (not all). 

Trust me, going this deep into the topic is definitely a stretch. I doubt any VSCO girls or users had this intent in mind. But I view it as a small step in the right direction. While trying to look like anyone you’re not can be a bad idea, VSCO girls are a slightly better alternative to the unhealthy habits and image associated with looking like today’s models. Also, these girls still face “everyday challenges” (nothing actually important, just boy problems) like some other teen girls, adding more relatability. Alright, let’s hop out of this over-analyzed rabbit hole for a second and focus on how and why this new wave of VSCO came to be. 

The reason more girls are on VSCO is directly related to Instagram. As of February 2019, 9% more females use Instagram than males. Instagram is obviously about posting photos, which most people edit nowadays. Therefore, female users are more likely to use VSCO. And, from my perspective, lots (not all) of the guys I know don’t care about filtering their photos anyways. With a female-dominated app like VSCO, the content is now 99% of the time relating to girls. With the republish feature on VSCO, any photo republished is shown to all of your followers making it accessible for any picture to be widely spread. This could be why VSCO girls spread so quickly. 

This is cute and gets my complete endorsement.

When asked, a friend of mine credited the rise of VSCO girls to Tik Tok, the video sharing app previously known as Musical.ly. Tons of funny videos about VSCO and VSCO girls have been posted exposing a separate audience to what the app entails. Similarly, anything on Tik Tok that appears on the For You page can get over hundreds of thousands of views, truly showing how social media can spread trends quicker than ever. 

That’s enough analysis for today. Enjoy reposting pictures of puppies and Tom Holland on VSCO and maybe begin to post things of more importance. Or, just use the app like a normal person and have fun. In the wise words of a VSCO post I came across recently, “Sorry I’m late I sat on my bed in a towel for 34 minutes staring at a wall.” That’s definitely better than anything I’ve written in this article. Thanks for reading!

Lucy

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