TikToker has a theory about why there are so many Bellas/Isabellas participating in RushTok

The Twilight Saga/Youtube @shesgotmoxie21/TikTok

A TikToker has a theory about why there are so many Bellas doing ‘Bama Rush this year

These women were born around the same time a certain book was released.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 24, 2023

With the new school year starting, we’re again gripped by the uniqueness of ‘Bama Rush. But this year’s videos offer insight into a trend that those prospective new members probably weren’t anticipating.

In a video seen nearly 2 million times on TikTok (and a reuploaded tweet that got an additional 3.2 million views), TikToker @shesgotmoxie21 showcased several screenshots from several women rushing at the University of Alabama. And they all have one thing in common: Their name is Bella.

“Been trying to figure out why Bella is such a popular name on rushtok this year…,” Moxie wrote.

@shesgotmoxie21 It all makes sense now!!!! 🤯 #BamaRush #RushTok #Twilight #uapanhellenic #sorority #rolltide #Vampires let’s talk about it @Brandis Bradley  @Grant Sikes ♬ vampire – Olivia Rodrigo

Various details in the 18-second video show her hand: The song is soundtracked to “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo, and at the end, Moxie cuts to a screenshot from Google revealing that Stephenie Meyer’s novel Twilight was published nearly 18 years ago on September 27, 2005. She includes the mind-blown emoji and writes, “18 years ago…” on top of the screenshot.

Moxie essentially argues that so many women rushing right now are named Bella because they were named after the main character of Twilight, a teenage girl named Bella Swan.

When @laracroftbarbie posted the video to Twitter, she noted, “this literally crushed my will to keep going today”—and not because of ‘Bama Rush.

Commenters quickly pointed out the flaw in the video’s logic. This year’s crop of freshmen were born between 2004 and 2005—with the youngest being born around the time Twilight was published—so very few of them would’ve likely been influenced by Twilight directly.

“Twilight wasn’t popular enough for people to name their kids after it until 2007 or so, so we still have a couple years,” one person wrote.

Others noted Twilight’s pop culture domination can be felt among students who are still in grade school.

“Yup my middle schoolers asked where there’s so many Bella’s and jacobs in their class 😂,” another wrote. “I had to tell them.”

In 2005, the year Twilight was published, Isabella—Bella Swan’s full first name; it’s likely that for many Bellas, it’s also a nickname—was the sixth most popular baby name in the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, which annually releases a list of the top 1,000 most popular baby names in the U.S., how many babies received that name (and the percentage of babies born with each name) as far back as 1880, and historically tracks a name’s popularity since at least 1990. (Bella ranked 208th in 2005, peaking at 48 in the years 2010 and 2018, per the SSA.)

It would reach its peak at no. 1 in the years 2009 and 2010, the two years after the movie adaptation of Twilight was released in theaters. Twilight was enough of a factor that when the SSA released the list of 2010’s top names in May 2011, the franchise was directly credited for Isabella and Jacob being the most popular girls’ and boys’ baby names, respectively, for 2010. In some ways, naming your kid Isabella or Jacob—the most popular boys’ name every year from 1999 to 2012, according to the SSA; it’s since dropped to no. 32—because of Twilight.

Like Kylo, Khaleesi, and Arya in the 2010s, pop culture can often inspire baby names. (The only difference was that Isabella and Jacob weren’t names invented by Meyer like Renesmée, which has thankfully never breached the top 1,000 list, was.) Interestingly, Edward Cullen never inspired a Twilight bump to the extent that Isabella has. Although the name has always been popular to some extent—at its peak, it was the eighth most popular baby name in the U.S. and was at its most popular in 1923—it hasn’t broken above 100 in the SSA’s rankings since 1997. And apart from a slight tick around the late aughts and early 2010s, it’s become less common in the 18 years since Twilight’s publication.

But Twilight alone doesn’t explain Isabella’s popularity. It has already steadily risen the ranks since 1990 (it’s firmly resided in the top 10 since 2004) and fits a pattern that many of the top girls’ names do. Alongside other popular names like Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn, and Sophia, they’re names common in the early 1900s that are gaining a resurgence now because they have a timeless or classic association to them. Sometimes, parents might use those names to honor a grandparent or great-grandparent instead of names popular among people their age or names that feel more “dated” to a certain decade or era.

But even as we may see an influx of Isabellas and Bellas on RushTok in the next few years, even the recent popularity of those names doesn’t tell the full story. Even in its most popular year, 2010, Isabella only accounted for 1.170% of girls. Compared to the sheer dominance of names like John and Mary in decades past, Isabella is but a small drop in the pan.

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*First Published: Aug 24, 2023, 1:08 pm CDT