Who run the world?
In the crusade to destroy toxic masculinity, shitty ex boyfriends are an enduring nemesis. Luckily, teen girls are cool as hell and have turned their boyfriends’ bad behaviour into iconic TikTok videos – namely, them dancing to toxic voicemails left by their exes.
Earlier this week, TikTok user Bella Dorlando went viral after her video – captioned ‘Day one of dancing to voicemails from my cheating ex boyfriend’ – was shared on Twitter. In the video, Dorlando’s ex can be heard crying and pleading with her to speak to him. “I tried all day to talk to you about this,” he says, “and you’re just blowing me off. I’m telling you the truth, I’m telling you all this and you still don’t trust me. I’m sorry I went off on you, I don’t even know what to do.” All the while an unaffected Dorlando is throwing shapes.
The clip evidently struck a chord, with other users subsequently sharing their own routines while their exes voicemails, and even texts read by Siri, provide background music. One girl dances to the “YMCA” while screenshots from her ex flash up behind her.
While the videos are fun and defiant, many of them also shine a light on the signs of an abusive relationship. TikTok user Tenley shared her own version with the caption, ‘S/O to the WORST and most manipulative relationship I’ve been in’, adding context that the voicemail is her ex yelling at her for wearing leggings to school.
In a follow-up video, the 18-year-old shares advice on how to spot red flags at the start of a relationship. Referencing her six-month relationship with an abusive ex, Tenley says: “There were three main things that I should have paid closer attention to in my relationship, which were isolation, manipulation, and over clingyness.”
“Abusive guys have the need to control you, they want to know where you are every second of the day, what you’re doing – you have to be texting them constantly or they’ll freak out,” she continues. “These guys want you isolated. They don’t like it when you hang out with your friends, or even your family because they want you to distance yourself from everyone else, so they’re the only person you feel close to and like you can lean on, which makes you so vulnerable. Lastly they’ll manipulate you into thinking that everything’s your fault, even when they mess up.”
Tenley’s video is another example of young women using TikTok to promote positive social change. 16-year-old Gillian Sullivan previously utilised the platform to organise a school strike in solidarity with her teachers, while women in South Asia used the app as a vital outlet for self-expression.
Watch some of the best dancing videos below.
If you’re concerned you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can contact Women’s Aid in the UK on 0808 2000 247.