We’re All in the Bathroom Filming Ourselves


Open up TikTok and there’s a good chance you’ll be confronted by a teenager in the bathroom.

Most home bathrooms are well lit and have nice, bright acoustics. Unlike the kitchen, living room or even bedroom, bathrooms are private spaces, where parents and siblings are trained to not barge in.

It’s almost inevitable that they would become the perfect stage set for the dramatic entrances, exits, skits, dances and story times of TikTok, the short-form social video app that has grown wildly popular in the last year.

Videos shot in the bathroom consistently outperform those shot elsewhere, many creators say. They call it “the bathroom effect.” Milli2nd, a 21-year-old music producer known for performing with a mirrored pyramid over his head, said he has shot the same video in multiple settings and the bathroom versions win. “Ones I’ve done in the bathroom get much more views,” he said.

“In typically quirky TikTok fashion, the bathroom mirror has been a consistent reflection of the community’s unique ability to make the ordinary, be it washing your hands or flipping on a light switch, low-key extraordinary,” said Gregory Justice, the head of content operations at TikTok.

The most common bathroom portrayed on TikTok is the type found in millions of suburban middle-class homes. The aesthetic in general is Home Depot: a neutral colored sink and low countertop with a massive fixed mirror above, with composite doors and air-conditioning vents.

But not every bathroom makes a great TikTok bathroom. Bathrooms with busy wallpaper or yellow lights can be problematic.

And TikToks shot in messy bathrooms don’t perform as well. Ryan Ketelhut, 17, said that shooting TikToks has made him clean his bathroom at home more often.

“I keep it cleaner now because I am in there making TikToks,” he said. “You need to have all your stuff and all your candles and whatever else not strewn everywhere. I had to clean up a little bit before I filmed my last TikTok. I usually have clothes laying in the bathroom. I cleaned the sink out a little with a Clorox wipe and I sprayed down the mirror so it’s not as grimy.”

Some TikTokers said it’s the first thing they look for when choosing a place to live. “I should be moving to L.A. in the next month or so,” Mr. Alberto said. “A hundred percent I’m going to make sure that I like the setting of the bathroom. It’s a silly thing, but the videos on my channel that get the most views are in the bathroom.”

Finding the right bathroom, particularly one with light walls and a giant mirror, is also playing a role in Mr. Mitch’s Los Angeles apartment search. “I’m definitely going to check out the bathroom and see how it is, because the appearance can have a lot of impact on my videos,” he said.

Kids that are too young to live alone must work with the bathrooms they’ve got. “I see a lot of school restrooms, a lot of personal restrooms — it’s a thing to go into the gas station restroom and use the sound, like, ‘I’m in the ghetto,’” said Ethan Ramirez, 17. (He was referring to a popular meme on the app in which the phrase “I’m in the ghetto” is the refrain.)

“In my school it’s become a big problem that people are filming TikToks in the bathroom,” he said.

The bathroom is so often being used for filming that it can be awkward for kids who have to use it for its intended functions. Recently Mr. Ramirez was in one of the stalls when a group of kids came in and immediately began filming TikToks. “I was like, ‘I am in here,’” he said. They continued to film.


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