It’s not every day you see a teen twerk gloomily to a man crying. But on TikTok, Bella Dorlando, clad in a fleece camo sweatshirt and black leggings, dances to the sound of her blubbering ex-boyfriend, who’s apologizing for allegedly cheating on her.
“I tried all day to talk to you about this, and you just blowing me off. I’m telling you the truth, I’m telling you all this and you still don’t trust me,” he pleads.
Dorlando just body-rolls.
“I’m sorry I went off on you.” he says. “I don’t even know what to do. Like, I’m doing everything I can…”
She spins. She hits the woah. He cries.
“Please,” he says. “You’re the only fucking person that actually cares about me and pushes me in the right direction. Without you, I’m just going to go back to fucking hell. I’m not forcing you to stay with me, though…”
The voicemail is actually from December 2018, says the 18-year-old, who posts as @trapmoneybella. The two have been broken up since then. But inspiration struck last week when she turned it into an absurdist, Twin Peaks-esque TikTok, and her post has now garnered over 380,000 likes. “I’m just naturally a really goofy person, and I don’t have much of a filter,” Dorlando tells MEL of her inspiration for the video. “I thought a lot of girls would relate.”
Her hunch was correct. Bella may not have been the first to dance to the sounds of a scummy ex, but her video proved so funny and meme-able that other women have started transforming their own traumatic experiences into cathartic dance vids.
Two years ago, Kristen Cathey, an 18-year-old from Cincinnati, received a video of her then-boyfriend hooking up with another girl, she says. At the time, she believed him when he said it was only a kiss. But when she saw the TikTok trend a few days ago, she eagerly dug up his old voicemail.
“It was almost empowering to create because it gave him a little stab in the back,” Cathey says. The comments on her video are full of women supporting her, and she feels appreciative. “It makes me feel like the way he was treating me wasn’t actually my fault, which of course my ex made it seem to be.”
Some have taken creative liberties, superimposing an ex’s texts into the background, putting their former best friend on blast or roasting a classmate’s lackluster SoundCloud diss tracks.
The videos aren’t always comfortable to watch. In one voicemail, we hear, “Maddie, go fuck yourself. You’re a piece of shit. Go fuck yourself. You stupid-ass bitch. You’re just mad.” Maddie Bruno, an 18-year-old in New Jersey, tells me she posted it to reclaim a sense of control over the situation. “This person was someone I did so much for, yet she could easily backstab me for no reason,” she says.
In a video by Tenley Earles, an alleged ex-boyfriend berates her for wearing leggings. “I’m not dating someone who’s got every fucking dude in the school looking at her,” he says. “You want to do that? Don’t fucking be with me.”
Earles, who is 18, says she posted the video to remind teen girls what an abusive relationship sounds like. “I had a lot of girls reach out to me and say they were in the same situation and I gave them hope to get out of it,” she tells MEL. Today, Earles isn’t just happier — she’s a newly minted TikTok star gone viral for putting the fuckboys in their place.