Life in quarantine is exhausting.
You’ve whipped your coffee within an inch of its life, started and abandoned sourdough, danced like a TikTok teen, turned bananas into bread, crossed into full animated-animal insanity, and tried to start drama with your household objects. There is almost nothing left to do.
Enter: The Pillow Challenge. Your task, should you choose to accept it, as tens of thousands of people on the internet have—strap a pillow around your naked body and try to look hot. That’s it.
People who are bad at dancing, gardening, makeup, crafting, and the zillion other domestic skills that make for good internet content, feast! This is our time. No sewing, no kneading, no contouring, just stripping naked and tying yourself to an inanimate object. This “challenge” has no rhyme or reason, except that you are in your house, and so are your pillows.
“A pillow is a rectangular piece of fabric,” the tastemakers of the internet seem to whisper. “A dress is a rectangular piece of fabric. You do the math.”
And you can, easily. #Pillowchallenge and #Quarantinepillowchallenge have, combined, over 100,000 tags on Instagram. If Fraulein Maria can make seven playsuits out of a set of curtains and then escape the nazis, you can make a mini dress out of a pillow and then stay inside.
Kseniya Marvanova, an 18-year-old in Western Russia, posted a picture of herself doing the challenge with her 7-year-old sister. “I saw this challenge from popular bloggers and decided—Why not try?” Marvanova says. Her sister saw her putting on a pillow and joined in. “She saw how I took photos and began to repeat after me, and even put on high heel shoes,” she says.
Like Marvanova’s younger sister, once I had seen people wearing pillows as dresses, I, too, wanted to wear a pillow as a dress. As passersby (my family members) observed, I looked like I was trying to make a one-woman sexy calendar for the textile fetish community. It was, indeed, somewhat difficult to make an overstuffed down pillow and my dad’s belt look like a mini-dress, rather than a Sexy Rubeas Hagrid costume. It was hard not to flash my neighbors. It was almost impossible to drink my prop martini, which was sadly made out of water. It felt, somehow, like I was wearing both a snuggie and a corset. In this sense, the pillow challenge is a challenge.