Want to go viral on TikTok right now? Grab some pink ribbon and a random object. A roll of toilet paper, a houseplant, or a kosher dill spear will do. Tie it up in a bow and film it. Post the video online, and voilà.
In recent weeks, bows in all the wrong places have become all the rage on the social media platform. Popular TikTok videos have featured ribbons wrapped around a bowl of macaroni and cheese, a knife and a Chick-fil-A order. Another video showed what appeared to be a bowl of cereal at first glance — but instead of cereal, it’s just a bowl of bows.
If you can name it, somebody has probably tied a bow on it.
The online trend comes in reaction to the recent popularity of bows in fashion and pop culture.
Sierra Palian, a 22-year-old nanny in Washington, D.C., recently posted an 8-second video that shows a glass of ice water on top of a table. It is shot from above, and the three floating ice cubes are tied in pink bows.
Like some other bow videos, Ms. Palian’s was set to “Let the Light In,” a dreamy love song by Lana Del Rey, whose personal style is known for being traditionally feminine and bow heavy.
The ice cube video has racked up more than 11 million views on TikTok. Ms. Palian said it was meant as a commentary on the coquette aesthetic, a style she described as girlie, soft, delicate and often marked by pastels.
“It’s a way to express your femininity, but in an extremely self-aware way,” she said. “It’s hyper feminine, but also there’s an awareness to it. It’s not ditsy culture.”
The ice cube video and others like it are part of what Ms. Palian described as “a large-scale inside joke.”
“I saw one comment that was talking about how the ice cubes melting kind of represents how feminine beauty is viewed in society,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Whoa, that is deep.’”
Chrissy Trovato, who works in influencer marketing for a jewelry company, said she was inspired to make a bow video of her own after a few popped up on her For You page. Noticing that she had some pink ribbon left over from a work event, she tied bows on her TV remote and other random objects in her Manhattan apartment. Then she took out her phone and filmed them.
In her 10-second video, which is also set to Ms. Del Rey’s “Let the Light In,” the bowed objects take on an uncanny look. Ms. Trovato, 25, captioned the video “Coquette Girl.”
The act of tying bows on everyday objects and filming them for social media videos might be a parody of the way the internet invents and circulates trends at warp speed, she said. She cited the spread this year of so-called blueberry milk nails, a fingernail polish trend that took off on TikTok this year, thanks in part to its catchy descriptor.
“We don’t need to come up with a name for everything,” Ms. Trovato said. “I think this might be making a joke almost about many of the trends that are out there.”
One question remains: Does the recent spate of absurdist bow videos signal the end of the bow?
“I hope not,” Ms. Palian said. “I’ve been seeing multiple people getting bow tattoos on their bodies.”