If you’ve spent anytime around teenage girls lately, you are probably familiar with the trendy VSCO Girl. “Sksksksksk” and “And I oop” are her catch phrases. Her selfie game is on-point, using photo editing apps like VSCO to create her own personalized aesthetic, and her social media posts are full of emojis. You can find her clutching a Hydroflask and wearing a stack of scrunchies on her wrist as she sits in 8th grade homeroom playing with her puka shell necklace.
Don’t tell her this, but this modern trendsetting teen is basically her mother reincarnate (but with ear buds, a smart phone and a metal straw in their Starbucks cup). If you’re 35 or older, it’s apparent that VSCO girl origins trace back to the suburban teenage girl of the 1990s. The oversized t-shirts, scrunchies, Birkenstocks and vans, and a general “Save the Whales/Turtles” vibe.
I don’t know how long this trend will last, but today’s VSCO girls will definitely relate to the main character of my young adult coming-of-age novel set in the mid-1990s SONG OF A FIREBIRD. Fifteen-year old Josephine “Rose” Blakeway is the original VSCO girl. She frowns at the thought of shopping at the Gap and wearing clothes manufactured in a sweatshop half a world away. Her oversized t-shirt nearly covers her cut-off denim shorts. Rose’s hair is almost always up in a scrunchy, and don’t get me started on how much she loves her Birkenstocks.
It’s funny how things that seem so irrelevant to today’s young adult readers (i.e. a world without social media and smart phones), have a way of resurfacing in modern pop culture. I think readers of SONG OF A FIREBIRD will find the themes of grappling with low-self esteem, enduring bullying and building the confidence to rise as a better version of yourself are just as relevant today. Teen readers will appreciate the subtle VSCO girl references and might realize they have more in common with their moms than they thought. Unrequited love, popularity, rejection and the quest to find your tribe are timeless teenage struggles whether you’ve got a smart phone or a pager.
VSCO girls of all generations, unite!