If you are within a certain age group, and happen to be on TikTok, you have most likely heard of this phenomenon going through the internet the last couple of weeks. That phenomenon is a 21 year old boy/man named William White. His charming lip singing of oldies, the smile and charisma, and yes, that eye roll when he seems to be crooning “Mandy” straight to each of us, has got over a million women in a tizzy! But it’s not as creepy as it sounds.
The joke is that TikTok is now CougarTok, implying that all us women have one thought in mind when we see William White on our FYP pages. While there may be that element, I am not judging, the reality is that’s not true for the majority of us. Most of these women know they are old enough to be his mother. He even calls them his Mama Bears. And while he is charming and very attractive, it’s not a sexualized hype that is heating up. This young man has taken all us Gen X women on a trip back in time. A trip to a place where things seemed simpler, even if they weren’t. A time where a cute boy on the cover of a magazine could make us smile and dream of what possibly could be. A time when we could daydream about someone as cute as this singing straight into our hearts and taking away the pain many of us were actually living with.
Gen X is the generation born between the years 1965 and 1980, roughly. We were born during war, sexual revolution and the birth of feminism. Society had learned that rock and roll was here to stay and the counter culture was in full swing. Times were turbulent, exciting, scary and uncertain. We were the generation born from fire.
Most of our parents came from the ideology that if you can’t see it, it didn’t happen. So while the world was opening up in many ways socially, it also was keeping its darkness and secrets locked up tight. For most of us young girls, this was a time of trauma. Don’t ask, don’t tell. That’s what we learned.
As teenagers, music was changing fast. We saw the birth of disco, punk and Teen Beat magazine. I remember the first video on MTV and the Brat Pack were everywhere. So were many of our traumas. Many of us were taken advantage of, abused and were latch key kids, abandoned while parents worked or partied. Gen X is a feral generation. We did the best we could with raising each other. For many of us, singers such as Rick Springfield and Shaun Cassidy, movie stars like Rob Lowe and the rest of the Brat Pack boys became our fantasy boyfriends. With them, we could daydream of better days. We could dream of romances that were more wholesome and where we were truly loved. We knew these were fantasies, but for those brief moments we could escape whatever pain we were living with. For those brief moments we could listen to them sing and pretend we were ok. Those were cherished moments in this Gen X’s life.
Fast forward 40+ years and many of us are mothers and even grandmothers. Most have had at least 2 marriages and we are doing the best we can to make sure our sons and daughters don’t have to face what we did. Many of us still hold on to secrets and fears. We have thrown ourselves into marriage, children, careers and life looking for that feeling of contentment. Don’t get me wrong, most of us love our families. I wouldn’t change anything about my life, even with all the trauma and confusion. But for many, the longing for simple love has been replaced with keeping busy.
Enter William White aka @whiteyy18. He isn’t new to TikTok. But Memorial Day weekend changed everything. We became Mandy with one eye roll and a wink. All of a sudden we were transported back in time. We started feeling emotions many had forgotten about. We became mesmerized. And his follow count skyrocketed as duet after duet ran through the app.
He doesn’t lip sing particularly well, sometimes he obviously doesn’t know the lyrics, but he has charm and this makes him even more appealing. He is signed with Mode Models in Canada, where he is from. He isn’t arrogant however. He includes his Mama Bears in his new found fame and he continues to give his followers a place where we can go back to the feelings of possibilities. It’s innocent and flirty and a wave that he has pulled us into. Many say they feel seen, they feel appreciated and feel like they did when we were kids and happy in our daydreams. And this young man knows exactly what he is doing and how it’s affecting others.
William’s lives are consistently filled with gratitude. His genuine excitement to make us happy is adorable, and he is always talking about this wave as everyone’s and not just his alone. He also loves his family and gives them credit and respect. He is a breath of fresh air in a world that has over-sexualized almost everything. He has brought over a million women together from every background and political map and created a community. And it all happened with a wink and a smile – and that eye roll – on an app that became a safe haven during Covid for so many Gen Xers. And friends, when women band together we are a force to be reckoned with.
But I cannot press publish on this article without acknowledging the fact that Mr. White’s charm doesn’t just end with Gen X women. It has crossed over to the men as well who see him and appreciate him. It has crossed over into the LGBTQ community with video after video of how he has hypnotized them as well. He doesn’t discriminate. He is helping all of us smile a little brighter.
So William White, this is a huge thank you. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping us remember what hope can feel like. Thank you for reminding us we are more than we might have come to believe. And thank you for singing straight to our hearts.