Conspiracy: VSCO Girls Aren’t Real

We just got tricked into buying a bunch of stuff…

By Angelina Zervos

Opinions Editor

I bought a pair of Crocs for myself the other day and I believe it was a very informed purchase. I first visited the Crocs website, studied the pair I wanted to purchase, and then I visited a shoe store to try them on and make sure I really wanted them. I tend to be sort of an impulse buyer, but I was particularly careful with this purchase because, to be frank, I thought we were all on the same page that Crocs were ugly. Now that I think about it, lots of things deemed “ugly” in the late 2000s and early 2010s have made a comeback. If you wore anything other than skinny jeans, you were a little…off. I mean, why would you opt for loose-fitting, unflattering “mom” jeans when you could buy a pair of low-rise Hollister super-skinnies? Scrunchies were too retro. If you needed to tie your hair back you had to resort to those thin rubber bands with the metal clasp, and reusable drinkware was not nearly as popular as it is today. Need I remind everyone about the 2012 Tumblr girl, obsessed with buying as many Starbucks drinks off the “secret menu” as they possibly could? If we want to know the root cause of all this plastic straw pollution, I think we should check with them…

As soon as I put those Crocs on, I was reminded of my younger self, who once owned a pair of bright turquoise Crocs that I cherished dearly. Alas, as I grew older, and the more Juicy Couture velour jackets and PINK Victoria’s Secret sweats you owned determined your worth in the middle school class system, my crocs soon ended up in the donation pile. Now, about decade later, everyone has a pair! Why? Why did I have to split with my Crocs so many years ago? The answer is two words: VSCO girls.

Hear me out: the world’s ugliest, overpriced, and most distinct brands all got together and infiltrated the most up-and-coming internet subculture: girls on VSCO. The main offenders being Crocs, Fjällräven Kånken, Birkenstock, and Hydroflask. It’s not breaking news that brands often target women as their main consumers, and what better consumers exist than young, attractive girls willing to take aesthetically pleasing pictures of your products for FREE? I mean, last time I checked, Crocs and Birkenstocks were just about ugliest pairs of shoes known to man, yet just as I’m finished donating my “Jesus Sandals,” as the boys in middle school who made fun of me called them, everyone owns a pair. I don’t want the term “suddenly” to be overlooked. This cultural phenomenon seemingly arose out of thin air. Prior to June 2019, there was no mention of VSCO girls online (I even checked trusty-dusty Urban Dictionary). VSCO the app was still a relatively niche photo editing app. It was definitely popular, but your average social media user did not know what the term “VSCO” referred to.

I’m led to believe that these companies, no longer appreciated by dominating Tumblr subcultures of the 2010s, found a way to seep into everyday fashion and culture. Even though thin, attractive white girls are the most common face of the VSCO girl aesthetic, the VSCO girl “look” has infiltrated many other, more inclusive, subcultures. The Instagram baddie can be seen rocking a pair of neon colored Crocs with their Adidas track pants, E-boys may pack up their sketch books and eyeliner pencils in a black Fjällräven Kånken, and Kawaii dressers may use pastel-colored scrunchies to tie up their hair. Although we may imagine a very specific look when we hear the term “VSCO girl,” their so-called “style” has become a part of mainstream fashion and culture.

This brings me back to my theory. It appears that the essence of the VSCO girl relies heavily on maintaining an “aesthetic” wardrobe and lifestyle. While the “save the turtles” slogan is often attached to this aesthetic, there is nothing sustainable about being materialistic. Buying more things simply for the trend is extremely harmful to environment considering that the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. If the VSCO girl lifestyle was really all about living a carefree, eco-friendly life as portrayed in their prettily edited pictures, there would be less of a consumeristic agenda, which is the exact opposite of what these big companies want. Social media is all about showing off, but in the case of VSCO in particular, where there exists no like count and no comment section, there’s more of an unspoken pressure to produce the best possible image, one that can be deemed valuable without a number that indicates its worth. The easiest way to achieve this is by cramming as many name brand products into your photo as possible, especially brands with distinct logos (I’m looking at you, Hydroflask) that adhere to a specific look emanated by many other users of the same platform. I mean seriously, does anyone even know how to pronounce Fjällräven Kånken? How do you fit so much stuff in there? Why did I buy a pair of Crocs? I FELL RIGHT INTO THEIR TRAP!

The only method I can suggest in order to not fall victim to these brand’s covert marketing tactics is to be a more informed buyer. Spend more time deciding if you really want (or need) that thing you’re about to order at 3 a.m. as you’re scrolling through Amazon. Did I buy those Crocs because everyone else has them? Or am I just reconnecting with my old self? Both? Sksksk and I – oop!


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