On your way to class, you see a girl with a large bottle that belongs more on a rocket ship than a college kid’s possession. The brightly colored bottle—a Hydro Flask, you later learn—swings from her fingers. Stickers with hashtags like #savetheturtles decorate the bottle’s metal surface. You speed up, because you’re going to be late, and you notice that she wears a Pura Vida necklace, despite the weather being 50-something degrees, and the beach being more than 90 minutes away.
Little did you know that you saw a VSCO girl. However, for now, she is nothing more than an odd assortment of interests dictated by fashion and aesthetics. The name stems from the VSCO mobile photography app, which is described by the CEO as “a chiller, more creative” companion to Instagram.
Their most common accessories are the omnipresent Hydro Flask and reusable straws.
“I get made fun of a lot for having a Hydro Flask. It honestly doesn’t bother me,” Chloe Emfinger, a junior media production major and self-proclaimed VSCO girl, said. “Being called a VSCO girl a lot doesn’t bother me; however, I’ve seen it really bother some other girls.” She sipped from her yellow Hydro Flask and crossed her legs. “I guess it just depends on how you handle yourself as to whether it bothers you or not.”
“I think they’re making carrying a water bottle popular, instead of lame, like the lunchbox theory. No one wants to carry a lunchbox until it’s cool,” Emery Johnson, a senior speech pathology major, said. “I like oversized shirts and scrunchies, and they’re [VSCO girls] are making them cool.”
“Specifically, on the Hydro Flask, VSCO girls definitely made those popular. I’m not sure how big of an impact they’re making, but at this point, most people associate Hydro Flasks and metal straws with VSCO girls,” Emfinger continued.
However, VSCO girls are more than just trendsetters. They influence more than fashion trends, especially with her efforts towards promoting environmentalism and marine conversation.
A recent NPR podcast claimed that VSCO girls are the first large group of Generation Z to push climate change into the mainstream conversation. By toting reusable bottles and straws, as well as promoting thrifting and purchasing things secondhand, the trendsetters push for being environmentally conscious. They also commonly participate in climate strikes, as pushed by young climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The most common phrases associated with VSCO girls are “And I oop—” and “sksksksk”, which stem from marginalized communities, like people of color. For their environmentalist efforts, however, VSCO girls say #savetheturtles. Not only is the phrase derived from a popular TikTok video, but it is also an online store selling reusable products, such as silicone straws and plastic carrying cases for utensils. Whether VSCO girls are aware of it or not, they indirectly advertise reusable products.
If anything, VSCO girls are reincarnations of previous eco-warriors, such as the Baby Boomers’ hippies. The girls promote peace, love, and happiness through filtered photos and “giving back” to the environment.
However, regardless of the VSCO girls’ trends and their aesthetics, the bigger problems at hand—pollution, climate change, overconsumption—cannot be solved by individual citizens alone. 500 million straws do not disappear overnight.
The younger generations should not have to desperately try to save a world that the generations before them created.