When Your Tween Wants to Conform to the VSCO Girl Trend


“Can I use my saved allowance to buy a Pura Vida bracelet?” my 12-year-old daughter asked this past August. I didn’t think twice about saying yes. It was $12.

But then I learned that these colorful bracelets — made by artisans in Costa Rica — are part of the larger “VSCO girl” trend, an “effortless, beachy” aesthetic popularized on social apps like TikTok. It’s named for the photo editing app VSCO, which rhymes with disco.

But it became associated with a style, complete with its own language: “And I oop! Sksksk!” (Translation: “oops” or “oh my God,” depending on context.)

Some VSCO Girl signifiers don’t require much shopping — oversize T-shirts, Crocs and hair scrunchies are already part of many tween girls’ wardrobes. But when kids request specific items they’ve never mentioned before, like a Hydro Flask, a reusable metal straw or a shell necklace, they may be trying to copy the uniform.

In an age where “influence” has jumped from the pages of a magazine to YouTube — into the back pockets of teenagers themselves — how do I teach my daughter to think for herself? (It’s also healthy for boys to think for themselves, of course, but this particular trend happens to be very girl-oriented, so I’m focusing on daughters.)

The experts I asked suggested I start by learning and listening.

“There’s a generation gap,” she said, “parents didn’t grow up with this technology.” And yes, your teens may roll their eyes at you. “But more times than not, they will appreciate that you’re taking an active interest in the things that they are excited about.”

Ms. Simmons said since VSCO is a photo-sharing app, parents could use it as an opportunity to explore creative outlets.

“Why not ask your daughter about photography or ask if there are any photo walks she wants to go on?” she said.

Parents can ask: What’s interesting about the trend? Dr. Ito suggested questions like, “What does it mean to buy things that every kid doesn’t have access to?” Or, “Is a brand really the most important part of your identity or the way you want to signal who you are?”

Then you can talk about values, challenge negative messages — and ultimately decide if buying a “VSCO” brand, or conforming to any other trend, aligns with what’s important to you as a family.

Dr. Damour recommends keeping these conversations short, just long enough to install what she calls “a filter.” “So that when they consume media, they can hear their parent’s voice, ‘Who was that video made for? What’s it about? Who are they selling it to? And who is profiting from it?’” she said.

Experts pointed out that many parents — themselves included — once conformed to trends as adolescents, too. (Madonna-inspired jelly bracelets, anyone?) And that sometimes parents too, shop according to brand names.

“Have an open conversation about values, about access, and about the unfair pressure that girls feel,” Dr. Mogel suggested, “but not in a finger-wagging way.”

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