Posts tagged with "tiktok"

Have we reached peak baby name? Tank? Afternoon? Flick? Orca?

June 17, 2024

After the birth this spring of her third child, a baby girl named Whimsy Lou, the lifestyle influencer Nara Smith posted a TikTok listing some of the names she and her husband liked but did not ultimately use. Among them were Tank, Clementine, Flick, Halo and Dew, reports The New York Times.

Francesca Farago, a reality television star, posted a similar video recently—including names like Heart, Ethereal, Prosper, and Afternoon. Her husband also liked the name Orca, she says. (But she vetoed naming her child after a killer whale.)

Baby names have come a long way since Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made headlines for naming their daughter Apple two decades ago. In 2024, almost anything can be a name. A recent TikTok trend seems to offer a satirical critique of just how out there some parents are willing to go in search of unique names for their progeny.

The joke setup goes like this: “Normalize naming your kid after something you love.” Users respond with something hyper-specific that they would probably never actually name a child, like Diet Coke, Velveeta, or “cheeky bit of work gossip.”

Emily Kim, a full-time baby name consultant, said the trend seems like a direct response to “how extreme” baby naming has become.

Kim, who is 33 and lives in Minneapolis, made a name for herself on TikTok thanks to her uncanny knack for predicting what celebrities and influencers will name their children based on their Internet aesthetics. Last year, she correctly guessed what the football player Jason Kelce and his wife, Kylie, would name their third daughter, Bennett. (Kim said she knew it would be a traditionally male name, given the Kelces’ two other daughters were named similarly.)

Naming a child, Kim explains, has become for many people an extension of personal branding.

“A baby name is just one facet of your personal style, in the same way home décor and clothing is part of your style,” Ms. Kim says. “In our parents’ day, the elements of your personal style were known by your close friends and maybe your neighbors, your family, but your style wasn’t showcased on a larger scale to acquaintances and strangers in the way that is the norm now.”

Kim’s consultations start at $295 for a five-minute session in which she shares her personalized suggestions. During the sessions, the most common request she hears is for names that are “unique but not too out there.” The clients don’t want their children to arrive on the first day of school only to find they are one of five in the class with the same name, she explained. (Looking at you here, Emilys of the world.)

That access to a wider pool of people via social media has made many of her clients feel as if certain names are off limits “because they’ve already been ‘used,’ even though it’s by someone you don’t really know,” Kim said.

Morgan Kline, another baby name consultant, got her start on TikTok sourcing vintage-sounding names from old yearbooks. She specializes in finding “uncommon names,” says Kline, who is 29 and lives in Rock Island, Illinois. “A lot of people hire me to find a name that was only used, like, less than 25 times last year.”

Recently Kline helped a client land on the name Woods.

Like Kim, Kline says personal branding often played a role for clients when selecting a baby name. “I think especially that’s true for people in the public eye,” she said. “Certain influencers really want to make sure their kid has a one-of-a-kind name in case they also want to follow in the entertainment industry in some way.”

As for the recent joke trend, Ms. Kline says she could even see some of the joke names being selected for by real people—like “Mocha,” one creative TikToker’s idea.

“I could definitely see the right person actually using that as a name,” Kline says.

Research contact: @nytimes

Kim Kardashian’s Skims to open five stores nationwide

June 13, 2024

Kim Kardashian is bringing Skims out from behind the screen—launching five brick-and mortar stores nationwide, reports the Independent UK.

The soft clothing and intimates brand—founded in 2019 by the reality star and entrepreneur Jens Gredewill open five shopping locations in Georgetown, DC; Aventura, Florida; Austin and Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. Georgetown will be the first store to open, welcoming customers inside its 3,300-square-foot space starting June 13.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Skims store will offer its women’s collection before their men’s line comes in during the third quarter.

The Georgetown store opening gathered a mass of eager shoppers before the doors opened at 10 a.m. “A group of people lined up outside the store shortly before its opening at 10am. The Skims location is 3300 M St. NW,” DC News Now reported.

The interior of the stores will mimic the brand’s app for minimalism, utilizing neutral tones and sleek furniture.

Fashion media mogul and industry expert, Bernard Garby, took to TikTok to break the news to his thousands of followers. Being well-versed in the business of luxury goods, Garby talked about what this meant for Kardashian’s company and predicted the business tycoon’s next move.

“We’re not talking about a pop-up or some sort of new concession as part of a department store,” Garby said. “No, we are talking about real permanent stores, which is a big step for Kim Kardashian’s business, especially for business that started from e-commerce only.”

“If you’re asking me what’s next,” Garby continued. “Well, obviously it must be an IPO, which means listing the business on the stock exchange and perhaps even selling the whole business to some other investor. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

The fashion news expert pointed out how Kardashian has slowly been removing herself from the brand, specifically the “marketing campaigns.” In Garby’s opinion, this is the “right thing to do.”

“Personal celebrity association works in the beginning to you know, as I say, spark the fire, raise awareness, accelerate growth,” he explained. “But if it becomes as big as Skims, you need to start removing yourself from the brand because one day when you’re gone, you don’t want the brand to be gone too.

“You want the brand to stay, and that’s what Kim Kardashian is doing at the moment,” Garby added.

As of now, it’s not known whether the company plans to expand their retail locations into other areas of the United States.

Research contact: @Independent

What are parasocial relationships?

May 31, 2024

People have had a fascination with famous people for eons—and in the age of the Internet, it’s only increased. Influencers, often online content creators, have made both the definition of “celebrity” and our relationships with them fuzzy.

While it may seem as if influencers are followers’ friends due to how they interact with them online, this more than likely isn’t the case. Instead, theseFan-cel relationships are parasocial—one-sided, reports Mashable.

But what are parasocial relationships exactly—and are they healthy?

 What is a parasocial relationship?

Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships—typically between a Joe or Jane Average and an individual and a celebrity or fictional character—said Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University Natalie Pennington.

According to Chief Strategy Officer at media tech company IMGN Media Noah Mallin, parasocial relationships are an assumed intimacy audience members feel even though they don’t have an actual relationship with that person.

These relationships existed long before the Internet—thousands of years ago. Researchers say ancient people had parasocial relationships with pharaohs and deities, for example.

In the 20th century, early research on parasocial relationships dissected those of viewers and soap opera characters and other fictional TV characters. “People would watch TV shows and become really invested in, and feel like they had a relationship with…some of the leads on the shows,” said Pennington. “So even though they may never meet, they were like, ‘This person is my friend. I know them.'”

As media and technology has evolved, so have parasocial relationships. With the rise of the Internet and social media in the past few decades, celebrities have disclosed more information about themselves online, allowing fans more insight. This previously-impossible-to-know knowledge has made these relationships seem real, as fans are learning more about the celebrity. It’s still one-sided, however, as the celebrity may have no idea who the fan is.

Examples of parasocial relationships

In a study on fan-celebrity interaction on Twitter, Pennington published in 2016 with professor Jeffrey A. Hall and researcher Alex Hutchinson, the authors discussed the “illusion of closeness” social media interaction gives to fans when it comes to celebrity interaction.

A celebrity “like” or retweet can not only boost one’s own social status, but it’s a perceived level of intimacy with the celeb. Because of engagement, social media blurs the line of parasocial relationships.

Since that study, it’s only increased—especially with TikTok, Pennington noted. Referring to the stitch feature of combining videos, she said, “TikTok with stitching, for example… It blurs the line on parasocial because someone may actually respond to you and then you can feel even more connected.”

The rise of YouTube vlogging had a hand in modern parasocial relationships, said Mallin. Vloggers speak directly to camera (something not often done in previous forms of media) about specific personal issues they’re dealing with, as if they’re speaking to a friend. Now it’s typical for an influencer to look directly at you during a video. There’s a perceived level of authenticity there, even if a lot of work went into a video behind the scenes.

Not only are influencers looking at you, but they’re also interacting—sometimes in real time. “It feels like you’ve got more ability to access and interact,” said Mallin. “A good creator will read the comments, and comment back.”

Commenting back and forth can feel like you’re having a conversation with an influencer (even if it’s their team and not them responding). This helps foster the sense of “this is a real person,” said Mallin, “but that can also foster the sense of, ‘not only is this a real person, but we actually have a relationship with each other,'” even though you don’t.

 Are parasocial relationships healthy?

The simple answer is yes—but like most things, it’s best in moderation.

In the United States, people are pretty lonely, and the pandemic worsened the “loneliness epidemic.” People have fewer close friends now than they did decades ago. At the same time, Pennington said, there’s an innate human need to belong and thus a need for connection, and when we don’t have that we’ll seek it out. Humans evolved these needs over millions of years, because we needed to be part of groups in order to survive. While this isn’t necessarily the case anymore, we’re still social creatures who thrive with others.

So, it makes sense that people seek connection online and through celebrities and influencers. As long as they’re not the only relationships in your life, parasocial relationships can be totally fine. You may get a “boost” of good-connection feelings—a hit of the feel-good chemical dopamine—when you engage with your favorite online personality, and that’s a positive.

But if that’s the only way you’re connecting—or if you think your parasocial relationship is actually two-sided—that’s when they can get problematic.

“We need people in our life that we actively talk to,” Pennington said, “to help our wellbeing, whether that be loneliness, self-esteem, belonging, connection—all that stuff.”

Pennington continued, “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the content of a creator in any capacity and appreciating the work they do with the in-the-moment joy that that brings you.”

It’s not a good idea to set expectations with the celebrity, however. “It’s okay to reach out to tweet at and say ‘hi,’ but not anticipate or expect a response,” Pennington said.

Further, Mallin said, parasocial relationships can cross the line into being toxic, especially if the influencer/celebrity is of a marginalized identity. “Parasocial relationships can feel fairly benign,” he said, “but for some groups that sometimes can be a little bit more sinister.”

During the worst of the pandemic, for example, influencers spoke out about increased harassment. Abuse can escalate from online to offline, such as Twitch “fans” stalking streamers. In these ways, the blurred line of interaction can be detrimental.

When interacting with an influencer/celebrity, it’s important to remember the relationship is indeed one-sided. It’s okay to love a famous person—but keep your emotional and physical distance.

Research contact: @mashable

Are you talking—or are you ‘yapping’?

March 23, 2024

Have you ever been told you have the gift of gab? Did your school report cards suggest you pipe down in class? Perhaps you’ve been called a chatterbox on an occasion or two?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you might be a yapper, reports The New York Times.

Terms like yapper, yap and yapping have become popular on TikTok in recent weeks. To yap, in modern parlance, is simply to talk … a lot, often about something of little importance.

“In the Internet context, I would say somebody that’s a yapper is somebody that talks too much or is an over-sharer,” says Taylor-Nicole Limas, a 27-year-old influencer and self-proclaimed yapper in Chicago. “Somebody that just keeps on talking to fill the air. If it gets quiet, they just don’t stop talking.”

Users might post a video of themselves yapping, talking at length about a given topic—perhaps something they feel moved to rant about, or a subject in which they are an armchair expert. Or someone might be called a yapper in the comments of a video (whether the speaker intended to yap or not).

Being labeled a yapper isn’t necessarily a compliment, but on a platform built on talk, it isn’t an insult either.

Some creators have cheerfully embraced the moniker. Last summer, the TikTokers @bag_and_cj became known for videos in which they react to other TikTok videos with rambling commentary. The duo was named Yip and Yap by their fans. (An occasional third participant is known as Yop.)

On a podcast in February, the ESPN host Tim MacMahon invoked the term in a less flattering context when he floated it as a potential factor in the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to trade Grant Williams: “I would say one of the ways that Grant Williams rubbed people the wrong way—the yap, yap, yapping—obviously, that’s kind of part of it with him,” MacMahon said.

Reesa Teesa—who recently captivated TikTok with a multipart saga detailing the ins and outs of her dramatic marriage—may be a prime example of the form. She captivated millions with a tale that stretched over more than six hours.

Jess Rauchberg, an assistant professor of Communication Technologies at Seton Hall University, says she wasn’t surprised to see so-called yapping becoming more common, given TikTok’s recent emphasis on longer videos. Users can currently upload videos up to ten minutes long, and the platform is testing videos as long as 30 minutes, according to TechCrunch.

Although it wasn’t always referred to as such, yapping has long been a hallmark of social media, where content creators, particularly on YouTube, are known to film longer videos, potentially allowing for more advertising revenue.

The term has cropped up more recently as “a way to poke fun at these long-form ways of sharing ideas,” Dr. Rauchberg says. “I also see it as a way that creators are self-internalizing their biggest fears of content creation—that dark side of content creation: What if I’m not likable? What if I’m saying too much or I say the wrong thing?”

The word “yap” dates to the early 17th century, said Nicole Holliday, an assistant professor of linguistics at Pomona College. It originally was used to describe the sounds made by dogs. (In recent decades, the word has popped up in hip-hop.)

“Particularly like small, high-pitched dog,” Dr. Holliday says. “Which can, maybe, give you an idea of the way in which this word would be gendered.”

Not every yapper is a woman, but much online yapping content is made by or about women. Some female users say they are reclaiming a gender stereotype by identifying with the term.

“I don’t think it’s a negative trait to be yapping all the time,” Limas, the influencer, says. “I think the play on the word ‘yapper’ that is becoming more popular is a way to take that power back, a way of saying that it’s OK to be talkative.”

 Research contact: @nytimes

When junior heads to college, helicopter parents turn to empty-nest coaches

March 7, 2024

Kenny Hayslett recalls bittersweet feelings when his oldest child left for college. But he didn’t expect the profound sadness when his middle child said goodbye last year.

“They all sting, but this one hurt,” the 56-year-old says.

Helicopter parents get accustomed to tracking their children’s every move via smartphone, keeping activities tightly scheduled, scrutinizing homework and grades, exchanging miles of texts. For a certain cohort of hands-on parents, getting their teens into college marks the finish line. Then comes the coup de grâce: Bye, Mom! Bye, Dad! See you at Thanksgiving!

The kids are fine. It’s parents who need help, reports The Wall Street Journal. The exit of high-school seniors leaves many feeling like “they’re being fired from a job they’ve had for 18 years,” says Jason Ramsden. He has made a name for himself on TikTok as The Empty Nest Coach.

“Even though you know it’s coming to an end, it is such a shock,” comments Ramsden, who ushered his last child out the door a little more than two years ago.

Empty-nest coaching is a growing livelihood—with training certification, support groups and $250-an-hour private-counseling sessions. Demand is driven by parents who feel an emotional and logistical vacuum after years of shepherding children from one moment to the next.

TikTok’s algorithm—sensing Hayslett’s pain when his second child left for college last year—served one of Ramsden’s empty-nester videos. Hayslett, of Clearwater, Florida, says he felt like “this dude is talking right to me. I can’t believe this is a thing.” He paid Ramsden $2,000 for weekly videoconferences over about three months before Camden left for college.

Like other things no longer taboo—from getting fired to not wearing pants—empty-nesters want to talk about their struggle.

Ramsden has drawn more than 50,000 subscribers to his TikTok account since becoming a certified coach in 2022. Elsewhere on the internet, the

Facebook group Empty Nest Moms has more than 12,000 members seeking guidance and assurance from others in the same emptied boat.

The Inspired Empty Nest—an online community started by empty-nester Bobbi Chegwyn—offers to connect local parents seeking to commiserate about the sudden silence at home.

Worried about missing family life, Hayslett switched careers and became a real-estate agent after the birth of his first child so he wouldn’t have to travel for work. Over the years, Hayslett coached flag football, helped with homework, and treated each of his three children to one-on-one trips.

Hayslett was a pole vaulter in college and coached his second son, Camden, when the boy took up the sport in seventh grade. In high school, Hayslett volunteered to coach track. With his youngest child, Kate, a high-school senior, now on the launchpad, he plans to circle back to Ramsden.

“I’ll be looking him up again,” said Hayslett, “since we’re going through this again.” He and Kate took many trips to Manhattan, he said, visiting the American Girl store when she was a child and Broadway shows as she got older. Next fall, he and his wife will be true empty-nesters.

Executive and life coaching were popular specialties when Valorie Burton, CEO of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute in Atlanta, began in 2002. In past years, she says, coaching services have widened to people going through a divorce or career change. Training can last a weekend or as long as six months, teaching coaches to help clients set goals and carry them out.

Empty-nesters get plenty of unsolicited advice from friends and family: Get a job. Get a hobby. Get a life. Empty-nest coaches say such suggestions aren’t helpful first steps.

“They need to grieve,” said empty-nest coach Natalie Caine. She became a $250-an-hour certified coach in Los Angeles following her own entry into empty-nesthood 15 years ago. “I get asked all the time,” Caine said, “ ‘Do other parents feel like this?’ ”

Christine Oakfield, who has a podcast called Your Empty Nest Coach, says many of her clients have focused on raising their children “to a point where they have no idea who they are. Their whole identity is their kids.”

Camden Hayslett says he wasn’t surprised his father was sad about him leaving for college. The only time he ever saw him cry was when the family said goodbye to his older brother after they dropped him at school. What he didn’t see coming was his dad hiring an empty-nest coach.

Camden thinks it has helped. It doesn’t hurt that he talks with dad every day. “That’s something that makes him feel more in the loop,” he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Paranormal mystery: Tesla driving through ‘Conjuring’ graveyard senses people walking

February 12, 2024

Are there real ghosts walking around in a famous graveyard in Rhode Island? According to the sensors in one man’s Tesla, the answer may be an eerie yes! In a bizarre event shared on TikTok, the driver’s Tesla sensors purportedly detected what appeared to be several “people” walking around his car. The problem is he and his passengers were driving through an empty cemetery, reports Study Finds.

For those who believe in ghosts, you may be excited to learn that this potentially paranormal shocker took place on the road along a cemetery near the Arnold Estate, the real-life inspiration for the 2013 movie “The Conjuring.” As the unnamed driver of the Tesla passed this graveyard, the images of people walking appeared on the motion sensor display.

In the video on TikTok, a group of people driving in the car stops to stare at the terrifying sight unfolding on the pedestrian sensor screen, you can hear them react in shock as more and more “ghosts” appear in the graveyard!

At one point, it even looks as if the ghosts are surrounding the Tesla, which spooks the riders even more. The video does show someone standing in front of a grave as they pull in, and the driver says his cousin and a friend were outside and eventually got in the car. That certainly would indicate an instance of the sensors picking up a person, but as the number of individuals grows and they appear to be in multiple places, the travelers are left laughing in confusion.

The unnamed driver, who claims to be a Tesla employee, adds that this isn’t some funny prank built into the car’s software by Tesla founder Elon Musk.

“[I can] confirm this is not an Easter egg Elon added as I’ve tried this many times. It’s not just picking up the gravestones, as even if it was they would show as stationary on the screen,” the driver said, according to a report by SWNS.

So, what was the car picking up on its screen? It might help first to understand how the sensors on a Tesla work. These sensors are calibrated to detect objects and people in typical driving environments. A graveyard, with its unique layout and objects, might present atypical conditions that the car’s system isn’t optimized to handle—leading to unusual readings on the sensor system.

Tesla’s pedestrian detection recently underwent a major transition. Prior to 2022, the system used a combination of sensors and software. This combined:

  • Radar: Radar sensors emit radio waves that bounce off objects and return to the sensor, providing information about the object’s distance and speed. However, radar waves can penetrate some materials but not others, and they’re generally not capable of detecting objects buried underground.
  • Cameras: Tesla vehicles use multiple cameras to provide a 360-degree view around the car. The cameras feed visual information to the car’s computer system, which uses image recognition algorithms to identify objects like cars, pedestrians, and road signs.
  • Ultrasonic sensors: These are used primarily for close-range detection and are especially useful for parking assistance. They use sound waves to detect objects around the vehicle. Like radar, these waves are not designed to penetrate the ground significantly.
  • Autopilot and full self-driving (FSD) software:This software analyzes the combined data from the sensors to identify pedestrians, predict their movements, and take potential actions such as braking or issuing warnings.

Since 2022, most Tesla models (Model 3, Model Y, Model S, and Model X) have transitioned to Tesla Vision, a system that relies solely on cameras and vision-based software. This approach uses a sophisticated “occupancy network,” which analyzes camera footage to identify and differentiate objects—including pedestrians—with high accuracy.

It’s highly unlikely that the sensors were detecting bodies underground. More plausible explanations could include:

  • False positives from the sensor system: The car’s sensors, particularly the cameras, might be misinterpreting tombstones, trees, or other structures as people. This can happen due to the shapes, sizes, or even reflective properties of these objects.
  • Software glitches: The algorithms processing the sensor data might misinterpret what the sensors are picking up—especially in unusual environments like a graveyard.
  • Environmental factors: Things like shadows, lighting conditions, or weather might affect how the sensors perceive their surroundings.

While it’s unclear which type of Tesla this was, it’s clear that the high-tech car sees “something” in one of the creepiest places in the United States.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

Leopard layers and a load of gold: Say hello to the ‘mob wife’ trend

January 24, 2024

As The Sopranos celebrates its 25th anniversary, a new audience has embraced its style via TikTok. Out are the cutesy “tomato girls” with their full skirts and raffia basket bags. Gone are the gentle linen-clad “coastal grandmothers”.

In their place comes a woman with a whole lot more bada bing, reports The Guardian. Dubbed the “mob wife aesthetic”, the look involves massive fur coats, glossy leather, clashing animal prints, coiffed hair, and stacks of gold jewelry.

To celebrate the big anniversary, HBO has launched an official Sopranos TikTok account featuring condensed 25 second recaps of all 86 episodes. This has led to a whole new generation—many who weren’t even born when the show first aired—discovering it, with many homing in on the female characters’ gaudy style.

On the secondhand shopping platform Depop, searches for leopard print are up 213% and gold hoop earrings up 70%, as Gen Z and Alpha try to emulate Carmela Soprano and Adriana La Cerva.

This week, film director Francis Ford Coppola even got involved. On Instagram, he posted a still of his sister Talia Shire dripping in diamonds as Connie Corleone and Diane Keaton in pearls as Kay in The Godfather with the caption “I hear the ‘mob wife aesthetic’ is making a comeback…”

It’s not just fictional characters that are being referenced. The daughter of the convicted killer and boss of the Gambino crime family John Gotti, Victoria Gotti – who is said to base her flashy clothes and long tousled blonde hair on the Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace—is being hailed as style leader. Images of Renee Graziano, the daughter of Anthony Graziano, the former Bonanno family consigliere whose stars in the reality TV show Mob Wives, also pops up on numerous mood boards.

Last week, Nunzia Giuliano, daughter of the 80s mafia boss Carmine Giuliano, even tapped into the trend by launching a perfume named after her father. Dubbed ‘O Liò’, an abbreviation of his nickname ‘O Lione’, the first batch sold out within days. “By buying this fragrance you are showing respect to my father because you received respect from him,” Giuliano shared in a video to her 15k followers.

How to get the look

  1. The fake fur coat

While real mob wives pass down floor-sweeping furs as family heirlooms, the younger TikTok generation prefer fake. While these are cruelty free, they are made from petroleum-derived fabrics which contain microplastics, so choose a simple version that won’t date. Better still, scour pre-existing fake furs at your local charity shop or online.

  1. The sunglasses

Oversized frames with a flashy designer logo are key here. Sunglasses, Gucci

  1. The jewelry

Channel Carmela Soprano with chunky gold hoops and layers of chain necklaces. But leave the cornicello, a traditional Italian talisman, to the Sicilians. Gold hoops, Astrid & Miyu

The luxe tracksuit

Swap your beige track pants for what insiders call a “Bensonhurst tuxedo.” See Juicy Couture’s embellished versions.

While TikTokers embracing the aesthetic get dressed up to capture content over chequered tablecloths and steaming bowls of vongole at their local trattoria, it’s funerals, weddings and the courtroom where real mob wives flaunt their style. Clare Longrigg, author of Mafia Women, describes it as a “hutzpah” [or “chutzpah,” derived from the Hebrew word, “ huspah”], meaning “audacity.”

“There is so much performance involved in being a mafia wife,” says Longrigg, who points out how clothing is used as a signifier of power. “You can’t show any weakness. It’s brash and it’s bold and it’s all part of keeping up a front.”

Juliet Polcsa, the costume designer for The Sopranos, describes the renewed interest in Carmela Soprano’s style as “flattering but baffling”. To hone Carmela’s look, Polcsa spent time observing shoppers at malls in New Jersey rather than real mob wives. Polcsa describes Carmela as a “nouveau riche suburban housewife.”

“She didn’t have the sophistication of someone wealthy, but she had money. It was 1999 and fashion had a specific theme. Matchy-matchy outfits, jewelery, nails and hair were very important,” she said.

The Italian-American author Sarah Arcuri, who has earned the moniker “Mob Wife Aesthetic CEO” on TikTok thanks to her wardrobe and makeup tutorials, says the glamorous style is something she has grown up with. Based in New Jersey, her family originally hail from Sicily, with Arcuri explaining how her mother and grandmother instilled in her from a young age the importance of looking “put together”.

“It’s flattering that people want to dress like us now. But I think some people are confusing it with a costume. It’s not. A the end of the day “Mob wife aesthetic” is just another word for 80s glam,” she said.

Research contact: @guardian

Oklahoma veteran, 101, cries tears of joy as he meets great-great-granddaughter in viral TikTok

January 18, 2024

Tears flowed from the eyes of a 101-year-old World War II veteran who met his great-great-grandchild for the first time—a moment that was captured in a touching video that has received over 6 million views on TikTok, reports Fox News.

e is the definition of a true American hero,” Lexie Fowler, 25, of Asher, Oklahoma, told Fox News about her great-grandfather, Dewey Muirhead.

“Just to be able to watch your great-grandfather hold your own child is something I’ll never forget. A lot of people don’t get to have that opportunity and we are very fortunate for it.”

Fowler and her husband, Hunter, had scheduled a newborn photo session when their photographer suggested including Muirhead, who served during WWII and lives in nearby Wewoka, Oklahoma. “Our photographer takes pictures of veterans free of charge and my great-grandfather is very near and dear to her,” Fowler said.

“When I told her that I was having a baby, she immediately jumped on it and said, ‘We have to get photos with your great-grandpa because this makes five generations.'”

They started off the photo session by blindfolding Muirhead. “The reason we blindfolded him is so that we could kind of get next to him and get his full reaction,” Fowler said.

“So we sat down next to him and took his blindfold off and that’s when he looked over and got to meet Millie,” she added.

Muirhead’s reaction is palpable as he turns his head to see his great-great-granddaughter, Millie Fowler, for the first time. “Sweetie,” Muirhead says as he reaches out and gives the baby girl a kiss. “What in the world are you doing? … Oh, isn’t she pretty? Look at her.”

As Fowler places her baby in her great-grandfather’s arms, his voice cracks with emotion as he wipes away tears. “It was honestly the coolest experience,” Fowler said. “Watching my great-grandfather cradle her in his arms—and she was just soothed. It’s almost like that’s what he has long held on for, for so long.”

Muirhead served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, Fowler said. He was stationed in Germany, France and Belgium. He married his wife, Inez, before he left for the war. They were married for 79 years; she passed away in 2021.

“He’s been through more than I can imagine,” Fowler said.

“I’m sure when he went to war, he didn’t even know if he would make it back home to his wife, let alone meet his great-great-grandchild. This is the first great-great-grandchild [in the family], so it was very, very special for him. There’s a photograph where he’s holding her and you can just see the look in his eyes, and he’s got tears.”

Fowler said her great-grandfather is surrounded by family and receives some assistance from the Veterans Administration, but is also very independent. “He still gets up and makes his breakfast, eats his lunch, and he’s in bed before the sun goes down, I think.”

Fowler said her family was not expecting such worldwide attention when they made the video and shared it with their local news station. “The reason we recorded it was so we can show it to Millie some day,” Fowler said.

“This is something we will cherish forever,” Fowler added.

Research contact: @FoxNews

Dating apps are in their ‘flop era’

January 10, 2024

In 2021, Jocelyn was ready to get back on dating apps. Fresh out of a long-term relationship, she figured that the apps would be relatively the same as when she first used them in college five years earlier. Even if they didn’t lead to lasting love, she’d have fun exploring her options.

“I wasn’t experiencing any of that,” says Jocelyn, now 28. “After these dates I was actually like, I could have stayed home and done nothing.”

According to a report by Bustle, you can talk to your friends, scroll social media, or just sit in a bar and listen, and you’ll encounter a similar sentiment: Millennials are tired of dating apps, and Gen Z singles might not bother with them. A 2023 survey of college and graduate students found that 79% don’t use dating apps even once a month.

These companies are feeling the shift: Match Group—which owns apps Tinder, Hinge, Match.com, and OkCupid, among others—has seen its stock price drop 40% in the past year.

Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd stepped down in November after ten years at the app, while Feeld is struggling through a disastrous rebrand.

Once a staple of the 20-something experience, these apps are now playing catch-up by rolling out new features and aiming to reshape their reputations—at least, they’re trying to.

The golden age is over

Since their inception, dating apps have been a largely Millennial endeavor. What started with Grindr in 2009 went mainstream with Tinder in 2012. Their initial conceits were simple: find nearby singles on your phone. With access to a seemingly never-ending well of users, the only barrier to landing a date was mutual interest.

Over the next decade, new apps emerged in hopes of getting their own piece of the pie: On Bumble, women message first; Hinge is geared toward finding love; Raya is exclusive and private; and The League is for ambitious professionals. Apps like Lex, Her, Scruff, and Feeld cater to LGBTQIA+ and nonmonogamous daters.

Now, however, the novelty has worn off. Millennials still toiling away on the apps are getting fatigued. There’s a feeling among current singles that the golden era has passed.

As a recent TikTok by Keara Sullivan put it, “If you met your partner on a dating app two years ago, you caught the last chopper out of ‘Nam.”

“I’d rather be single forever”

Have the apps innovated too close to the sun? On top of the basic swiping system, newer features—theoretically intended to increase connections—have left many users disheartened. Sarah, 29, met her last boyfriend on Hinge in 2018; when she returned to the app three and a half years later following their breakup, things were not the same.

“Most Compatible has become the feature on Hinge I fear the most, because it often makes me question if I am indeed destined to end up with a man whose profile exclusively includes photos of himself in front of sports cars, along with selfies of his ‘best Blue Steel’ facial expression that looks like he just ate a sour gummy bear,” she says. “If this is who the Hinge gods have decided I’m best suited with, I’d rather be single forever.”

While the most popular dating apps remain free to download, almost all encourage users to pay a monthly subscription in exchange for perks such as unlimited likes and tools to boost how often you appear in other users’ feeds. However, swipers appear reluctant to fork up.

Match Group saw its paying users decline for the fourth straight quarter, and a 2023 Pew Research study found that while 41% of online dating users age 30 or older have paid for the apps, just 22% of users under 30—the demographic they’re looking to court—have done the same.

“Rose jail gatekeeps the hot people”

Hinge’s rose feature, in particular, has frustrated users. The only way to interact with Standouts (profiles receiving a lot of attention that the app thinks you’ll like) is to send them a rose. Users get one free rose to send per week, regardless of whether they pay a subscription. In order to regularly engage with Standouts, you’d need to purchase more roses starting at $3.99 each — or limit your options to Hinge’s general algorithm, which some find increasingly disappointing.

“It feels like they’re hiding all of the good guys who are actually looking for relationships behind a paywall,” says Deja, 25, referencing something Hinge users have come to call “rose jail.”

“Rose jail gatekeeps the hot people on Hinge,” Hannah, 26, says. “Looking at the Standouts section, the men all have jobs, families, and great teeth. The same can’t be said for my regular feed. Obviously, it’s because they want to make money, which is fine, but then it’s time to change up the slogan. Hinge isn’t ‘designed to be deleted.’ It’s designed to make their users spend more and more money in the vain hope of finding a real connection.”

A Hinge spokesperson disputes this. “Hinge is designed with only one goal for our community—to help them get off the app and out on great dates,” a rep tells Bustle. “Our algorithm specifically introduces you to potential dates who meet your preferences (like distance, family plans, and more) and whose preferences you meet.”

Apps are trying to pivot

But frustration runs deeper than just an unwillingness to pay. Dating apps may be facing the consequences of a culture they helped create. They know their reputation is dragging, and in response to this disillusionment, they’ve had to get strategic about their place in the larger world of dating.

For example, Tinder—initially known as the casual sex app—is now reinventing itself for hookup-adverse Gen Z by pivoting to a focus on love. Per Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer at Tinder, 40% of users want to find long-term relationships; the app lets users highlight what kind of connections they’re looking for.

Appealing to Gen Z also means embracing the causes they care about, Hobley says. The LGBTQIA+ community is the fastest-growing demo on the app, and during Pride Month, Tinder helped connect eligible users with information about a study that hopes to combat the FDA’s blood ban against gay donors. It also launched an Election Center that enables app users to access voter registration tools and locate their polling stations, and allows users to include a “pro-choice” interest on their profiles.

Dating apps to Gen Z might be like Facebook to Millennials—they’re on them because everyone else is, but it’s not like they’re having fun.

Remember real life?

Perhaps in reaction to the COVID isolation of the past few years, some users want apps to help them meet people IRL. In 2023, Tinder created the Single Summer Series—hosting dating events across the country to take the pressure off one-on-one dates. Bumble similarly hosts Bumble IRL, and Hinge recently announced a $1 million fund to help Gen Z connect in person.

Singles like Jocelyn hope these events will allow for more organic connections, and reduce the exhausting trial and error of continually “meeting some random person off the Internet.”

Without a dramatic cultural shift, dating apps remain the most obvious option for someone in pursuit of romantic connection—even if the pursuit is futile.

Research contact: @bustle

Why the matchy-matchy Christmas pajama trend is here to stay

December 27, 2023

Most families have an annual Christmas tradition. It could be watching a classic holiday movie, going caroling, or even that yearly heated political debate. But a new custom has entered the festive lexicon: family pajamas. Everyone from grandparents to grandchildren—and even fur babies—is donning the same style of nightwear to create the ultimate family photo for social media, reports The Guardian.

It’s a trend that started in the United States, but homogenous pajama dressing now also has taken off in the UK. Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Hanna Andersson, and Primark all sell family pajama sets. (Some even include matching jackets and bandanas for the family dog.)

M&S was one of the earlier British retailers to adopt the trend— selling its first matching family sets in 2017. “They were an instant hit with customers and we’ve seen the demand grow ever since,” says Sarah Ayling, head of Lingerie and Sleepwear buying. This Christmas, the high street giant has six different designs ranging from traditional tartan prints to tropical jungle foliage. But its “disco Santa” motif is proving most popular—so far more than 500,000 sets have been sold.

Elsewhere, sales are up 40% at Gap, with bestsellers including red- and green-check flannel sets. A spokesperson for the online nightwear shop Cyberjammies describes this year’s sales as “phenomenal”. Its cotton Whistler collection—featuring illustrations of skiers and fir trees—has consistently sold out since it launched in September. Some of Primark’s Grinch-themed sets, meanwhile, are selling for double the retail price on eBay.

Rather than tiger parents dictating what their children wear, the trend is being fueled by gen Alpha and Gen Z. On TikTok, the term Christmas pajamas has almost 70 million views, with tweens and teens forcing older family members to don a pair then lip-sync to Christmas songs or catwalk around the kitchen.

“We like to identify with the people we love,” says Dr Sandra Wheatley, a clinical psychologist. “As a family, you are one unit, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Wearing matching pajamas is akin to putting on a family uniform. It connects everyone.” It can also, she says, “level the playing field” for “blended” families: “It’s a way of saying we are all equal.”

The coordinated pajama trend dates back to 1950s America, when shopping catalogs ran images portraying nuclear families in “mini-me” matching sleepwear.

In the modern day, it is celebrities who have catalysed the trend. The Kardashian-Jenners favor plaid styles (though Kim dressed her kids in all-red snowflakes this year), Diana Ross and her clan like candy-cane stripes, while the Beckhams’ annual embossed silky sets are said to be from Olivia von Halle, a luxury London-based pajama-maker whose prices start from £320 (US$406).

If you would like to try it out, but don’t think your family will go for all-out matching pajamas, why not go for nightwear in similar colors? “It makes it a bit cooler,” says Tom Pyne of the UK pajama and loungewear brand Chelsea Peers. “Plus, it’s more versatile. Our customers like to wear them each year, or even all year round. They are not bought for just one day.”

Research contact: @guardian