In Times of Trouble, We're Turning To Cozy TikTok

·4-min read
Photo credit: Chesnot - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chesnot - Getty Images


This is one of those weeks where, some day—if there is a some day—we'll look back and say, "How did we do it?" Between a pandemic, social unrest, burning forests, and a vital presidential election, we're somehow managing to put one foot in front of the other. Then again, every moment of the past seven months has been an exercise in willpower. This is just the penultimate episode before the finale, when you know something big will happen but have no idea what.

At least, in these times, there is TikTok. The app, which hit 2 billion downloads in April, is tailor-made for staying home and wandering down rabbit holes. It launched the D’Amelios, inspired couples to flip the switch, and crowned “Savage” our unofficial isolation track. Back then, we were young and still thought summer vacation might be “normal.” In the early days, our TikTok engagement was less intentional, a way of scrolling aimlessly that didn’t involve body dysmorphia (Instagram) or breaking news fatigue (Twitter).

Then, like everything else good in the universe, TikTok’s existence was threatened. In the early fall, Trump waged a war against the app and rumors swirled that it would be pulled from the app store for good. Suddenly, TikTok became a lifeline—a daily dose of comfort before the supply ran dry. This was right around the time we stumbled upon @christianmhull, the man who gleefully guesses paint colors. Soon we began worshipping at the alter of Tabitha Brown, the vegan chef who delivers free kernels of therapy on a weekly basis.

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As the levels of suffering piled on, sitting in our favorite corner of TikTok was no longer escapism. It was self-preservation in a moment that, as we’ve heard time and again, is unprecedented. Lunging for cozy, we started choosing content that delivers the warm and fuzzies. The chaos of the outside world barely registers when I’m watching this spot-on recreation of The Princess Diaries, courtesy of @cocodevile. The latest poll numbers? I can’t hear them over @nabela’s pockets of peace series. Sinking rat hole in New York—I don’t know her. I am watching @theemoodyfoody make grilled cheese with butternut squash soup and I am present.

By October, we’ve all found the crevices of TikTok where people bake bread, celebrate Christmas year-round, and recreate scenes from early 2000s movies. (There’s even actual therapists offering advice via 60-second sessions.) Hoping to add to my #fyp, I enlisted my own circle for their TikTok comfort food recommendations. My sister, a sustainable agriculture major, turns to @pintsizedbeauty’s autumn nature walk. For my best friend, it’s @what_about_bunny—an account dedicated to a sheepadoodle who's been trained to talk. And the spirited dance routines of @dontecolley soothe my roommate’s soul.

Of course, there will always be the unsettling slices of TikTok—cakes looking like anything other than baked goods springs to mind. And one could argue hiding away on an app won't make the problems disappear. But, in the words of Ms. Tabitha Williams, that's your business. For those who could use an earned, peaceful moment or two—keep scrolling.

ELLE's Cozy TikTok Picks

Le Creuset Videos

"I don’t own a home (nor am I near owning one) and yet I have everything picked out for my imaginary space. The kitchen, you ask? Bursting at the seams with Le Creuset kitchenware. So it makes sense that I’ve found a soothing home on TikTok where users obsess over the fancy French cookware manufacturer. To more Dutch ovens, grill pans, and griddles in 2021!" —Chloe Hall, Beauty Director


"The Hebridean Baker has a scruffy Paul Bunyan beard, a knack for kneading, and that ASMR voice that sounds how I imagine a warm shortbread cookie might talk if it came to life. The effect is very Scottish-sexy, very Outlander. Plus he's got a cute Westie that accompanies him to pick blackberries for his homemade jelly. As it turns out, watching a dog-loving hot Scot bake bread is the ultimate antidote to these dark times." —Rose Minutaglio, Staff Writer


"We’ve moved past the typical foundation, brows, eyeshadow, repeat makeup tutorials. These days, I like to watch beauty creatives blend their concealer out while relaying morbid tales of unsolved mysteries and strange happenings. Podcasts and documentaries take over an hour to get to the crux of the story, but thanks to accounts like Kubbielove, I get my horror fix in 60 seconds or less." —Nerisha Penrose, Assistant Editor

Charcuterie Board Videos

"I’ve found solace in watching hours of charcuterie board videos. Why watch a prestige HBO drama when this content exists? There's drama, there's intrigue, there's character development. Will the fig jam complement the brie and prosciutto—WE DON'T KNOW. As high stakes as this all sounds, it feels like TikTok Xanax. Sit me in front of a person slicing cheddar, layering pepperoni, or grating parmesan and I’m in my zen place. " —Savannah Walsh, Editorial Fellow

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