VSCO girls

photo via Her Campus

photo via Her Campus

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I spent a good 20 minutes on Friday afternoon digging through a box of old photos at Silver Eagle Antiques. While I did find a few particularly uncomfortable old family portraits, a vast majority of the pictures were just candid stills of people living their lives.

 

While sifting through the box, I shifted my mindset. I stopped looking at the mere grainy photos in my hands and started looking at the real people and their stories. Some smiled and posed for the camera, while others were unaware a photo was being taken. A few stills were artsy and aesthetic, while others were plainly shot. No matter how they looked, though, I understood one thing: these people all had pasts and dreams and emotions. They all existed.

 

I settled on buying a hazy black-and-white photo of a boy by a lake. As I stared at the image and waited to be rung up, I thought about how we, as a society, treat picture-taking nowadays.

 

Naturally, VSCO girls immediately came to mind.

 

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half, let me explain: VSCO is an online photo-sharing platform, somewhat similar to Instagram. In contrast, it’s known for its large, artistic female audience, many of whom fall under the blanket term “VSCO girls.”

 

Let’s get one thing straight: VSCO girls aren’t just your casual user who signed up for the app’s pretty filters and expert photography. They’re the specific subsection of girls who post about toting around Hydroflasks, yelling “and I oop” and wearing friendship bracelets.

 

Recently, they’ve replaced the once-hated “basic white girls” as the most judged group on the internet. Thousands of YouTube and TikTok videos mock them for sport; multiple twitter accounts demean them in memes; and one of my best friends posts theories about how they are “the spawn of satan” for kicks.

 

Since the invention of cameras, photography has functioned as a cornerstone of our society. Photo stills reveal history, unite families and even inspire poetry. If pictures hold our souls and preserve our memories, why do we as a culture feel the need to bash a group of teens who like to take them?

 

Every group selfie posted or Birkenstock-and-Sock stock photo taken is another memory preserved. Sure, we can look back one day and regret those parts of ourselves, dump our pictures off at antique stores, delete them from existence; but we should say goodbye to who we were with love, not shame.

 

Like Becca Kubick discussed in her article last week (read it here): memories are important, but difficult to maintain. The pictures we take now could be all we have left of our high school days in 30 years.

 

When we’re casually middle-aged, is it really going to matter whether Whatshername wore an oversized shirt and leggings in that one picture you two have from the Mum Day Game? Are you going to bat an eye at the puka shell necklace she had with her on Spes Unica?

 

The fact of the matter is that, in 30 years, you’re only going to care about the people in those C1 filtered photos with you. That they had pasts and dreams and emotions.

 

That they were there. That you were there. That, at some point, to all of these people, you existed.