On my bedside table, you’ll currently find a calendar my aunt designed and gifted me for Christmas, a pink claw clip, a candle, a tiny empty purple bowl, a bright blue coatcheck claim ticket, a loose credit card, one unfinished book, a pencil, a pen, and a small lamp precariously stacked on two notebooks and two books. On TikTok, this scene would reveal something profound about my womanhood.
Back in August, TikTokker @starlingblue uploaded a fan edit to Hozier’s “Would That I.” The video begins with a clip from Anne with an E where a character says, “oh how I love being a woman,” and is followed by a montage of beloved female characters including Jo March in Little Women, Sam of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Penny Lane from Almost Famous.
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The combination of the Anne with an E quote and “Would That I” quickly became the go-to sound for videos about womanhood. It’s been used over 155,000 times. When it first took off on the platform, creators used it to celebrate the intricacies of womanhood and to ironically share the pitfalls of being a woman. In one video @jamec0zzie lists things she loves about womanhood, including sapphic love, mornings in bed after sleepovers, unspoken solidarity, and going to the bathroom in big groups. On the more morbid side, @brennalina posted a video of herself leaving a hair in an Uber with the caption, “Ever since a girl on TikTok said she leaves [sic] hair and fingerprints in all her Ubers.” That video garnered over 4 million likes.
The sound was also utilized to celebrate female creators and became a staple sound for talking about whatever is trending among women on TikTok, for example @harrysguccidress posted a video of Diet Coke, chicken Caesar salad, and a side of fries, when that combination of food blew up on the platform. It received over 1.4 million likes.
But as is the plight of most TikTok sounds, it’s recently devolved into consumerism. What was once a tool to discuss womanhood, although superficially, is now the the soundtrack to women showing off their nightstands. Most of these videos are captioned something like, “heard we are showing our nightstands in their true form,” and then they pan to their nightstand littered with trendy products.
One creator @drag0nballsno_z‘s bedside table features fake flowers, Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, lots of necklaces, and a pair of mittens. Another creator, @jeanbean2780‘s, has six candles, a fuzzy coaster, flowers, and some hair clips on hers. While there is an understandable fascination with seeing something as private as a bedside table — and many of the women posting these videos have very cute set-ups —the discrepancy between “oh, how I love being a woman” and a table of products is stark. The trend had me side-eying my own nightstand, and critically examining if a piece of furniture designed for convenience is representative of who I am. Once again, this trend brought the desire to perform for TikTok into my private space.
Credit: TikTok / @jeanbean2780, @drag0nballsno_z
Nightstand videos are another way women on TikTok are encouraged to define themselves through their stuff and to organize their lives into highly readable aesthetics.
And it doesn’t end with nightstands. TikTok is also locked in a heated debate over the state of a girl’s messy room. Creator @latenightwar sparked this conversation by posting a very funny video in which she says, “When a girl’s room is messy it’s Sofia Coppola. It’s ‘Hell Is a Teenage Girl.’ It’s Lindsey Lohan in an early 2000s movie. It’s indie. It’s hot.” Like the “oh, how I love being a woman” sound, women are posting videos of their artfully messy bedside tables and rooms to the satirical clip.
Only time will tell what hyper-specific part of your life TikTok will require to fit your aesthetic next.
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