ByWendy Gabriel

Nov 4, 2019
3 teenage girls taking selfie

The VSCO (pronounced “vis-co”) girl trend is currently all the rage for many tween and teenage girls. The name comes from a photo editing and sharing app the girls use to edit selfies they post on social media. You can tell a VSCO girl by her baggy T-shirt, ’90s-era hair scrunchies, Hydro Flask water bottle, and Birkenstock sandals. It’s a thing.

As the mom of both a tween and a teenage daughter, we’ve had many conversations about the trend. Both daughters say, while they aren’t VSCO girls, they do appreciate some aspects of the trend, but not all. We’ve discussed both the pros and cons. Let me share a few ideas.

Pros of the VSCO Girl Trend

Using reusable straws, reusable water bottles, and avoiding plastic is something the VSCO girls advocate. They talk about doing these things to help “save the turtles.” Helping to reduce plastic waste is always a good choice.

Being out in nature is also a hallmark of a VSCO girl. There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors. By spending time outdoors, it’s a short step to truly appreciating the beauty and value of our natural environment. And from there, realizing that we need to take action to help our planet recover from years of irresponsible human behavior.

However, despite their good intentions, VSCO girls aren’t there yet.

Cons of the VSCO Girl Trend

My biggest criticism for the trend is that the movement seems to begin and end with consumerism. VSCO girls have a specific and expensive reusable water bottle. The girls all buy scrunchies, T-shirts, and brand-name footwear. They carry all their things around in expensive backpacks. And they sip their coffee drinks from disposable cups with their stainless-steel straws.

Buying stuff is what produces millions of tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans each year. Using a reusable straw is a good choice but that alone isn’t enough to save our oceans or turtles. Instead of buying more things, an effort should be made to reduce consumption, not promote it.

These girls have a big influence on what other girls their age are talking about and purchasing.

They could help spark change.

Hopes for a More Enlightened VSCO Girl

My hope for all the VSCO girls out there is that they understand the “why” behind using their reusable products. And that they use their social media voices to start a dialogue about how their generation can make better choices.  Making informed purchasing decisions based on sustainability — not just because it’s trendy to own something — would send a powerful message to their contemporaries.

They already have the means to rally for change through their social media outlets.

young women marching in climate change protest
VSCO girls: Will you join the dialog for change? Photo by Saph Photography from Pexels

Girls Are Our Future

When I see events like the recent strike for the climate where millions of young people from around the world participated, I’m filled with hope for the future of our planet. These young protesters, most of them girls, know that change is needed right now. According to the Washington Post, “46 percent of girls said climate change was ‘extremely important’ to them personally, compared with 23 percent of boys.”

All girls, no matter their background, can join to demand change. For that matter, all genders and ages should be demanding that we do a better job to protect our planet. A collective voice to say we need to move away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. We need to stop deforestation. We need to protect the world’s oceans. And, we need to find more sustainable agriculture solutions.

VSCO girls: Are you onboard?

By Wendy Gabriel

Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer based in California. Wendy's work has been featured in numerous publications and websites, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Business News and For nearly six years, she was a weekly contributor on a popular radio talk show in the Upper Midwest with a segment titled “Simple Tips for Green Living.”