If you've ever left a conversation with a teenager or a pre-teen wondering just what in the heck they'd actually said, you're not alone. In fact, sometimes the slang kids use can leave even the experts scratching their heads. In a video recently posted to his social media accounts, television psychologist and talk show host Dr. Phil revealed he needs help decoding teen slang, something parents everywhere can relate to.
"I've been seeing some words in my comments that I need to ask you all about," a confused looking Dr. Phil, whose full name is Phillip McGraw, said in a video posted Wednesday to both his Instagram and Twitter accounts. "Like, VSCO girl. I don't know if that's V-S-C-O girl or VSCO girl. Or sksksksks? I have no idea what the hell that is. And then there's one that says, 'and I oop.'"
Same, Dr. Phil. Same.
Like many parents, Dr. Phil went on to wonder if the meanings behind these slang terms were innocent or if he was opening himself up to ridicule by attempting to use and understand them. "I got a feeling that, somehow or another, this is way inappropriate," he said. "So you're probably getting a really big hoot out of this." Dr. Phil ended his video with a simple "let me know" plea that any parent can sympathize with.
Almost immediately parents began to chime in on Dr. Phil's quandary. "This is exactly what my 11 year thinks I sound like," I Feel Pretty star and mom of two Busy Philipps wrote Thursday while retweeting Dr. Phil's video.
So what does "VSCO girl," "sksksksks," and "and I oop" mean? In all honesty, I have only the vaguest idea of what "VSCO girl" refers to and, like Dr. Phil, no idea what "sksksksks" or "and I oop" mean. But for Dr. Phil — and anyone else feeling out of the loop — I'm willing to brave the dark recesses of teendom in a quest to find out.
We'll start with "VSCO girl," a term used much like "valley girl" was in the '80. VSCO (which is sounded out not pronounced letter by letter) was drawn from VSCO, a photo editing app popular with many social media users, including, you guessed it, VSCO girls. According to BuzzFeed, the term "VSCO girl" is typically used to define girls known to carry Hydro Flask water bottles, Fjällräven backpacks, their own reusable straw, friendship bracelets, scrunchies, and crop tops or oversized shirts. In a separate article, the media outlet refers to them as "the latest iteration of a Cool Teen Girl."
Both "sksksksk" and "and I oop" are language heavily used by VSCO girls, although both are reported by BuzzFeed to have been appropriated from black and black LGBTQ cultures. Not initially intended to be used verbally, Seventeen reported that "sksksksk" is essentially a written way of expressing laughter, much like "LOL" or "rotflmao" were in the early 2000s. But "sksksksk" can also be used to express amazement or shock, similarly to "OMG," according to KnowYourMeme.com. Consider it today's teens' updated take on ASDFGHJKL, a "word" created by mashing your fingers down on the keyboard to express feelings that can't be articulated with actual words.
Typically used to express things like shock, surprise, or embarrassment in a playful way, "and I oop" is credited to drag queen Jasmine Masters, according to Dictionary.com. Masters first uttered the phrase after accidentally injuring herself while filming a YouTube video in 2015.
Of course, as parents everywhere know, the very fact that older folks like myself and Dr. Phil are beginning to master these slang terms means they're likely now outdated, soon to be replaced with another turn of phrase that will have us all scratching our heads in confusion.