woman looking in bathroom mirror (l) woman posing in outfit in doorway with caption '29' Woman looking in bathroom mirror (r)


‘Girl read the room’: TikTok star uses Demi Lovato’s ’29’ to announce her 29th birthday, sparking outrage

'The way my jaw dropped.'


Tricia Crimmins

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 25, 2022   Updated on Aug 25, 2022, 3:54 pm CDT

A prominent fashion TikToker used Demi Lovato’s “29,” a song about Lovato having relations with a 29-year-old when she was 17, to announce her 29th birthday. The song has gone viral on TikTok thanks to videos about grooming and predatory relationships.

Shelby (@shelbysayswhatblog) posted a TikTok last week showing herself dressed up for her 29th birthday. In it, she lip-syncs Lovato singing “29.” The TikTok has been deleted, but Shelby’s Instagram reel remains on her Instagram profile.

Lovato’s “29” has taken off on TikTok as an anthem of healing for those who were groomed in their childhood and teen years. Many TikToks play the song’s lyrics—”Finally 29, funny, just like you were at the time, thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy, but was it yours or was it mine? 17, 29″—show photos of a TikToker and the person that groomed them as well as their ages.

TikToker Kayla Nicole (@bunnnbabe) posted a video revealing that her 25-year-old teacher had a relationship with her when she was 17. A video from @taniacerna states that she was sexually assaulted by a 29-year-old man when she was 12. And @hangrylesbian’s TikTok shares that at 16, she was groomed by a 28-year-old woman.

Hunter Elzy (@hunterelzy) called out Shelby for her use of the song to celebrate her birthday in a TikTok posted on Aug. 25. In it, Elzy is seen reacting to Shelby’s video. In the video’s overlay text, Elzy wrote “girl, read the room.”

On Thursday, Elzy’s video had over 430,000 views on TikTok.

@hunterelzy No way she just used this sound to celebrate her birthday #GreenScreenSky #29 #fyp ♬ original sound – Hunter Elzy

Many commenters on Elzy’s video agreed that Shelby’s use of the song was jarring.

“The way my jaw dropped,” @princxofmagick commented.

“I THOUGHT THE SAME THING,” @adultlunchable wrote. “AND NO ONE IN THE COMMENTS [on Shelby’s video] SAID ANYTHING.” Comments on Shelby’s Instagram Reel also don’t mentioned Lovato’s song, save for one that advises her to delete the reel.

“The scream I just let out,” @yourmom696903 commented.

Last week, Lovato posted a TikTok saying that she’d “seen [everyone’s] stories” using ’29’ and that “they mean so much to [her].” Many speculate that Lovato’s song is about her relationship with Wilmer Valderama, which began when she was 17 and he was 29.

“If you can relate, please know you are loved and not alone,” Lovato wrote in her TikTok’s overlay text.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Shelby via email, and Elzy through TikTok comment.

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*First Published: Aug 25, 2022, 3:52 pm CDT