Beth Binkley, Guest Writer
OAK HALL – It’s a typical Monday morning for 18-year-old Kirsten Travelstead as she stands before her closet trying to decide what to wear to class. Normally, she wouldn’t think anything of this mundane task, that is, if she wasn’t so worried about being categorized simply for her fashion choices due to a current internet trend.
Strewn about Kirsten’s dorm room are scrunchies, oversized t-shirts, and slide-on sandals. None of these articles of clothing would have her questioning herself normally, but as of late, she’s been watching a lot of popular videos making fun of people who dress like her and share her interests. Specifically, the videos in question are poking fun at “VSCO girls,” or teenage girls who dress for comfort and tend to be eco-friendly, which is often represented by their reusable water bottles—specifically from the brand Hydroflask—and their metal straws. Kirsten owns both of these items, and at the time of their purchase she had thought she was doing a good thing for the planet, only to be teased for it later on in the real world as the trend of antagonizing teens like her grew.
This strangely specific internet joke doesn’t stop at fashion choices or ethics. The humor of these girls is mocked, too. Often, when imitating a “VSCO girl” people will reference memes or phrases that these girls are thought to say on the regular, such as, “and I oop!” and the ever-so-strange “sksksk.” These quotes are referencing other popular videos and memes that were once mainstream, and by mocking girls who allude to them, the citizens of social media are trying to imply that their sense of humor is not genuinely funny or original, and is therefore inferior.
You really can’t make this stuff up.
To make matters worse, this is not the only category that girls are put in on social media for laughs. There are jokes about “e-girls,” ” horse girls,” “country girls,” “sporty girls,” “goth girls,” “emo girls,” “thick girls,” “skinny girls,” “manic pixie dream girls,” “freshman girls,” “Christian girls,” “gamer girls,” and the list goes on and on. Obviously, an entire essay could be written about all of the caricatures that girls are assigned based off of their appearances and interests. But what can girls do that won’t earn them backlash?
“Nothing.” says Kirsten, as she puts her hair up in a bun (with a scrunchie). “As girls, we literally can’t do anything without being mocked, teased, or categorized for it. So we may as well just do what we want. We’re going to get made fun of anyway.“
Some might argue that the memes were never meant to be that deep, and that people who take offense to them need to learn to take a joke. However, women and gender studies major Olivia Najeeba Rahal of the University of Oklahoma argues otherwise in her podcast, Femme Forward.
Even in the Bible, explains Rahal, “[Women] are the ‘adulterusses’, ‘whores’, and ‘temptresses.’ Men, however, are just ‘men.’ So, whether or not you personally believe that these internet trends are harmful, you would be hard-pressed to find an argument defending the long-fostered categorization of women when the timeline of this practice stretches from 1400 BC to 2019.”
In spite of potential ridicule, though, Kirsten says she will continue to dress the way that she likes. “Like I said before,” sighs Kirsten as she prepares to walk out the door, water bottle in hand, “We’re gonna get made fun of no matter what, so we may as well do what we want.”