A VSCO girl Halloween costume is a parody of a selfie-posting, highly fashionable tween. And I totally fell for it. Please, let me be a lesson to you.

By Zibby Owens
October 22, 2019
Courtesy Zibby Owens

It all started so innocently: "Honey, what do you want to be for Halloween?"

I was making a smoothie for my 12-year-old daughter before school. She barely looked up from her phone while seated at the kitchen island.

"I want to be a VSCO girl." I thought I'd heard her incorrectly.

"A what? A disco girl?" She sighed.

"No, a VSCO girl! VSCO. My friends and I are all dressing up together."

"But what is a visco girl?"

"I don't know, just… Google it, Mom."

After taking away her phone to punish her for the sassiness, I looked up "visco girl." She slurped through a reusable straw as I researched. Turns out it's spelled VSCO. (VSCO is a photo editing app. Like Instagram, creators have a "feed" on VSCO and can have followers of their artsy photo diaries—that's where the VSCO girl name originated.)

I quickly learned what it meant to be a VSCO girl. According to my online digging, a VSCO girl Halloween costume is a parody of a selfie-posting VSCO member who carries a big water bottle with lots of graphic stickers, wears big scrunchies, shell necklaces, Birkenstocks, Vans or Crocs, uses Burt's Bees lip-gloss, and carries a little reusable shopping bag tote. And sips through reusable straws. Hmm.

"Okay, so can we order it all now?" she asked.

"Wait, honey, isn't this all the stuff that you wear?"

"Mom! It's a costume. It's Halloween." She rolled her eyes. I looked at her skeptically, but what did I know? I'd only just learned the definition of VSCO. With her leaning over my shoulder, we "added to cart" all the bracelets she'd been begging for but I'd declined. Now I was saying yes.

"I have to have them for this costume," she insisted. Then we looked up the water bottle. "See it's a Hydroflask!" She pointed to a bland gray water bottle.

"What does that even mean? How is this different from your other 8,000 water bottles that you never use?"

"I don't know, just, ugh! Can you please just get it? It's like the most important part."

Fine. A water bottle. But after buying some of her favorite lip balm next, I finally had to ask: "How is this even a costume?"

"It just is, okay? It's better than my little brother being a bloody eyeball." Well, that much was true.

Cart full, I quickly realized that my daughter was a genius. Under the guise of a "costume," she has asked me to order everything she wanted. It would be like saying I wanted to be a Reese Witherspoon-type mom for Halloween and then give myself permission to shop like crazy on Draper James, watch "Big Little Lies" and read Reese's book picks all day.

As my daughter headed off to school the next week with her new "costume" water bottle, I felt completely duped. Was my daughter a VSCO girl in real life, just without an actual VSCO account?

"Shouldn't you be saving that for your costume on Halloween?" I asked as she ran out the door.

"No, no, it's fine," she said. "I can break it in."

Okay, I'm an idiot. I fell for her Halloween campaign hook, line and sinker, just because I didn't totally understand the VSCO hype. I ignored my common sense in an effort to help her dress up just like her friends. And I remember when I was her age, wanting so much to look just like my peers but not allowed to get the "right" lipstick. (Silver City Dream, I still long for you!) I didn't want my daughter to feel left out in the same way. But now I'd accidentally gotten her, like Julie Andrews sang in my daughter's favorite movie as a little girl, "a few of her favorite things."

She's not a little girl anymore and I'm struggling to keep up: to navigate her moods, the constant changes, the friend issues, the apps, the trends. But Halloween? That I understand. Next year, if she asks to dress up as, well, herself, I'll know how to say no.

Now excuse me while I go watch "Legally Blonde." After all, I have to prep for my costume.

Zibby Owens is a writer, mother of 4, and the creator and host of award-winning literary podcast, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” She hosts a literary salon of author events in her home and produces book fairs twice a year.


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