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, more than 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 minidress 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 minidress 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.
You can do the pillow challenge with multiple pillows at once. You can do it with a sheet. You can wear any type of shoes. You can involve a child or pet. You do not have to be a woman. You just have to have sleep accessories and a patient photographer. People all over the world are doing it—a quick search turned up posts from Italy, the U.K., Belarus, French Guiana, Israel, Germany, Bolivia, Iran, and Russia.
Does this not all feel so humane and whimsical in comparison to the challenges of yore? I may date myself, but in my day, an Instagram challenge was something that got you sent to the hospital for eating soap or sucking on a shot glass. Is it really a challenge if all you get is a cute pic and an irritated family member saying “I hope that isn’t my pillow”? (Yes. Now is a great time to do health care workers a favor and avoid activities that might get you sent to the hospital.)
What is next? Little Mermaid cosplay where we use mugs and coasters as seashell bras? Peeking flirtatiously out from behind giant serving bowls and Frisbees? Something devastatingly sexy involving bean cans? I embrace it, whatever it may be—my pillows ready, my tiara at hand.