Being a ‘VSCO Girl’ Is the New Basic Bitch. Can We Just Let Women Live Already?

Just when you thought it was safe to slip into your favorite pair of Lululemons and sip rosé all day without being labeled a basic bitch, the internet decided to come for social-media using females once again.

As millennials debate who’s allowed to have a hot girl summer (which, tbh, is fair), Gen Zs are busy dragging each other on TikTok. The basic bitch’s younger, cooler cousin just rolled up, and she has her own identity: VSCO Girl. You’ve probably seen her kind before, on Instagram and elsewhere. Her definitive “uniform” involves a perfect summer tan, “no makeup” makeup, beachy waves (often blonde) held back with a scrunchie, oversize T-shirts paired with bike shorts, Birkenstocks, Crocs or Vans—probably worn with crew socks—and an Apple watch.

The VSCO Girl has enough ca$h to buy Fjallraven backpacks, AirPods, and a seemingly never-ending rotation of Brandy Melville crop tops. She’s grown up online and is pretty accustomed to the internet’s hypercritical gaze. But while her vibe is care-free and nonchalant, the internet’s reaction to her is anything but.

If you go down the VSCO Girl YouTube rabbit hole, you’ll find no shortage of takedowns dissecting this reigning aesthetic, which, yes, excludes anyone who doesn’t fit the physical model (as in, you gotta be thin and white). As of today, the #vscogirl hashtag on TikTok has been viewed more than 265 million times, and tongue-in-cheek “becoming a VSCO Girl” tutorials abound.

more photos of me. oh wait thats my whole instagram nvm 👹🤣😳🦄🦍🧩👌🏻🤯😤🍤

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What’s ironic is that these montages often are made by young female content creators who look just like the archetypical girl they’re trying to mock. So what are we doing here? We wouldn’t lambast our little sisters (or our younger selves) for having collage walls, vision boards, or scrapbooks filled with inspiration—why are we getting out our claws now? These kids are just trying to live their goddamn truth—yes, with a Hydro Flask permanently in hand—but hey, you gotta admit it’s pretty great that they’re opting out of single-use plastics.

This habit of reducing women down to a singular social-media identity based on their looks and likes is a never-ending cycle. The basic bitch has already been collectively dismissed for loving The Bachelorette and spending too much money on Starbucks. Do we really need to outright dismiss a whole new generation of girls just for wearing shell anklets and owning a reusable coffee cup?

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i missed u way too much

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i missed u way too much

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Because if so, we’re not just asking them to apologize for their tiny backpacks and their eco-friendly utensils. Intentionally or not, we’re making this group of starry-eyed girls feel self-conscious for…what, exactly? Everything?

The basic bitch’s blissful ignorance of her white privilege is a legit reason to challenge her, but the internet’s tendency to ridicule her every move—no matter how innocuous—has a lasting legacy. That no-holds-barred approach filters down to the next generation. It’s permanently open season for trolling life online.

Between cancel culture and constantly calling each other out, social media has become one of the most alienating places in the world for the under-21 crew. At the risk of sounding like an earnest old, can’t we all just treat others how we’d want our teenage self to be treated? And, you know, not judge a chick by her bucket hat?

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