The TikTok Girlies Reclaiming Being a ‘Bed Person’
A new online identity wants to destigmatize doing everything horizontal.
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I’ve spent my whole life being embarrassed by my preference for doing everything from bed, but that was before I discovered I wasn’t alone. On TikTok these days, women with my same compulsion proudly claim their identity as a "bed person," and connect over how misunderstood they’ve felt their entire lives.
At a young age, I was taught that eating in bed is gross and slovenly, but the discourse around the practice is about so much more than crumbs. Fear mongering articles claim it encourages overeating, increases your chances of choking, and attracts bugs.
As technology has made working some jobs from bed possible, it’s been framed as less professional at best, and potentially harmful at worst. During the pandemic, when a November 2020 study showed that 72 percent of 1,000 Americans had been working from their bed, media entities warned that the "ergonomic nightmare" was "breaking your brain."
Things have only gotten worse as sleep has been studied and we attempt to "hack" it; "sleep hygiene" purists claim that technology—or anything else, really—in the bedroom messes with your circadian rhythm and ability for deep sleep. Is scrolling through social media in bed really worth bad sleep? (My answer is yes.)
But the shame around being a "bed person" has more to do with ableism: people associate being in bed all day with sickness or disability, with not Doing Capitalism effectively and being a productive member of society. They don’t understand why anyone would choose to be in bed. Even if it doesn’t get in the way of one’s ability to make a living, the practice still evokes laziness, sloth, and self-indulgence.
"I’ve always had this shame around it, like I should have more energy, I should want to be up and out, but the truth is, the world overwhelms the hell out of me," says one creator, who credits her preference to being neurodivergent.
It wasn’t always this way: though we cling to cultural norms around specific rooms or types of furniture, they are relatively new (and ever changing). For most of history, unless you were uber rich, your boundaries within your physical space were amorphous. You’d wash and groom and do all sorts of things in the bedroom because there was no other option. Perhaps you even slept by the fire where you cooked, as often there’d be only one source of heat. It wasn’t until the 17th century that mattresses stuffed with rags on raised wood frames became more common, but it was still very rare to have a bed—let alone a room—of one’s own. People shared beds with their family, friends, and even weary travelers. During the Renaissance, the wealthy invested in elaborate bedrooms and four-post beds, and they would conduct business and even socialize from bed.
It was during the Victorian era that bedrooms became a place known for privacy. Evangelical Christians were not down with everyone in bed together, and they began emphasizing the importance of separation for the family unit, and between servants and their bosses. A rise in concern over public health and the spread of disease also meant that sleeping separately was framed as a moral good in more ways than one.
With these videos, shame around being a "bed person" is absent, or rather, reclaimed. The reasons for how you got there are somewhat irrelevant, as all bed people ultimately arrive at the same conclusion. Whether it’s because of chronic illness, a lack of privacy elsewhere, or simply just a preference, "bed people" unite under the belief that being in bed is the best place to be. And they are sick of feeling bad about it.
"I lived alone for one whole year and sat in my living room maybe twice. Spent the whole year in bed when I was home! It was glorious!," writes one commenter. "I’m a lifetime committed bed person and my husband is a couch person. Realistically, what’s the difference? Just furniture in a different shape!," writes another. (As an identity isn’t fully formed without another one to rally against, bed people love to place themselves in opposition to those who favor the sofa.)
The pandemic only revealed how ridiculous many of these delineations are; being shut inside for everything drove us to push the boundaries of each room’s function, if we were so lucky to have more than one. The living room became the office, the bedroom the school, the backyard the gym, etc. The shame for bed people has lifted in part because taking to bed can no longer be chalked up to a personal moral failing. When the world outside is crumbling, who gives a shit about some crumbs in bed?
Top illustration by Franz Lang.
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