Disney's wood nymph princesses are real, and they are enchanting TikTok with sunny, honeycomb-filtered videos. The trend's called cottagecore, or countrycore, or farmcore, and it's a deep appreciation of simple living — the perfect outlet for quarantine confinement. Cottagecore videos on TikTok feature messy bread baking montages, artful flower pressing tutorials, milky tea time, misty garden frolicking, clucking chickens and floppy-eared bunnies, all set to dreamy indie soundscapes.
Cottagecore isn't new — traces of the vintage aesthetic trend date back to at least 2019, first becoming trendy on Tumblr — but it is now finding a new audience on TikTok. The hashtag #cottagecore has 151 million views and counting on the app — likely due to the much appreciated soothing effects of watching them.
Lillie Elkins, 21, a TikTok creator, says that even though her life might look 100 years old aesthetically, she's still a contemporary woman — one who only recently moved from the city to the country to embrace the cottagecore lifestyle. "I still shop at grocery stores and utilize all electronics, but I try to be very conscious of my impact on nature and what I’m doing to promote peace," Elkins tells Bustle. Her videos depict strawberry-filtered picnic lunches, country baking endeavors, and barn cat encounters.
Cottagecore content creators don't all live in cottages in the woods, as the unspoken community guidelines are less literal. Cottagecore is about putting on your proverbial fairy wings, reaching for a child-like sense of wonderment, and marveling at the way the morning light kisses your house plants, or catching the glow of magic hour on the floorboards, or wearing a peasant dress, or making violet syrup.
For Nadia Gaylin, 21, cottagecore is about realizing that said childhood playfulness can be harnessed by simply getting back outside where you first manifested it. "I feel like I’m in a story book that I grew up reading, which is a magical feeling — like I’m my own childhood heroine," she says.
Though many cottagecore content creators do indeed live in cottages in the woods — the Pacific Northwest, upstate New York, undisclosed fairyland — quarantine life has brought cottagecore to cities and apartments, too. After her Zoom college graduation, Catriona Brunnemann, 21, moved back home to a city in New Mexico where she makes cottagecore videos about bread baking — her form of pandemic-related stress management. "Cottagecore taps into this calm, kind, facet of life for me," she tells Bustle. "Baking bread has been a creative outlet, it's calming, and allows me to take a few hours to slow down and focus on one thing," she adds. Comments on her "Easy Bread for Stress Baking" video below range from "this is making me cry rn" to "yes, omg, so relaxing."
According to a licensed therapist Caroline Given, LCSW, the cottagecore lifestyle is inherently therapeutic due to its unintentional roots in behavioral activation — a cognitive behavioral therapy technique used to treat depression. Behavioral activation creates a sense of productivity by giving people small, pleasurable tasks to accomplish over the course of a week or so. Studies show that increasing one's interaction with rewarding activities, "improves mood, builds confidence, and helps us obtain a sense of control over our lives," Given explains.
For Jesca Her, 25, a creator with a knack for dessert baking and gardening, the movement is about harnessing an appreciation for the small things and finding beauty in the life you already have. It's about "doing things with love and care, no matter how insignificant they may seem. It could be as simple as washing the dishes and feeling the warmth of the water as it runs across your hands, or opening the oven and basking in the aroma of fresh banana nut muffins," Her explains.
On a surface level, this trend's popularity can be attributed to its wide reach. "It revolves around everything that is wholesome and accessible to everyone financially: baking, gardening, reading, animals, and picnics — at a time like this, it is a great equalizer," says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., a neuropsychologist. Whether you're making these cinematic videos or watching them, you're inspired to appreciate the parts of your life that you can easily control — a calming notion, especially right now.
"The movement is about taking a look around you and appreciating the small things — finding beauty and joy in everyday tasks," says Her.
Caroline Given, L.C.S.W., licensed therapist
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, MD, Ph.D., a NYC Neuropsychologist