two vsco girls


I’m Trying To Save My Daughter From Being A VSCO Girl

Sep 16, 2019

Confession: my daughter wears Crocs. With socks.

Sometimes she rocks a bucket hat that gives off Gilligan’s Island meets Eminem vibes.

I catch her wearing rows of velvet scrunchies — up and down her arms.

Something weird is up.

Read more from Laura Mullin: I'm a Cool Mom — Spilling the Tea on My Kid's Slang

“Hey, what’s VSCO?” I ask her one day as I’m innocently helping do up her seashell necklace. She had started dropping phraseology like: “That water bottle is so VSCO. That sleepover was really VSCO. Let’s create a VSCO hangout!”

“You wouldn’t get it,” she tells me. I think, yeah, she’s probably right. But when I take her to school one day, I’m shocked to see girl after girl wearing the exact same look.

I decide to do a little parental probing to get to the bottom of my kid’s new style. I fall down a dreamy, colourful beach-inspired rabbit hole.

Here’s what I learn:

  1. VSCO is this '90s-meets-surfer-girl look that is taking over the net, and apparently my kid’s brain.
  2. VSCO is a combo of a person, a meme, an aesthetic and a uniform all rolled into one big online phenomenon.
  3. Girls everywhere seem to be aspiring to achieve that specific VSCO look.
  4. VSCO girls make the sound "sksksk."

VSCO began as an app with lots of filters and editing possibilities, as well as a feed that was created by two California guys who started Visual Source Company. Today it’s a $90 million company with over two million users. Certain online influencers on other apps like Tik Tok and Instagram have helped define the VSCO trend. And as a result, many young girls are starting to look virtually indistinguishable from one another.

Discovering all this sends a nostalgic chill down my middle-aged spine. I’m flooded with the visceral memories of my high school years when I so desperately wanted to be a preppie. My must-have uniform consisted of Ralph Lauren polo shirts, bermuda shorts and perpetually orange permed hair. In short — I wanted to be Molly Ringwald.

Other kids identified as headbangers or jocks, and the rest were a smattering of rappers, new wavers and nerds (side note: the nerds are doing just fine today).

It breaks my heart a little to see all this unfold. I want to shout to all the girls in Crocs carrying their Kanken bags, “Hey, don’t let some dudes in California dictate your look! It’s OK to be an individual — those scrunchies won’t make you a better person!”

But of course, I don’t, because I get it. These delicate years are pivotal: kids are scrambling to discover who they are, be well-liked and they just want to know where they fit in (or don’t) in the world.

Instead, I try to walk the fine line of not being too judgy and educating her about being manipulated by brands for profit. I understand the powerful pull to be accepted. So I talk to my daughter about why it’s better to be a leader than a follower. To embrace a diversity of looks. That she’s cool no matter what she wears.

And that she should NEVER EVER leave the house in Crocs.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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