In recent years, the internet has been captivated by the competitive world of sorority recruitment season in Alabama, made famous by the #BamaRush hashtag on TikTok. The phenomenon even led to a 2023 Max documentary, titled Bama Rush.
This year, among the usual suspects of college freshman looking to join a sorority was, most notably, the name Bella. TikTok user Moxie (@shesgotmoxie21) noticed a surge in the name Bella, a nickname for the popular name Isabella, and made a connection.
In a video uploaded to the platform, Moxie explained her theory by compiling screenshots of multiple TikTok videos, each one posted by an aspiring sorority girl named Bella. Moxie wrote: “Been trying to figure out why Bella is such a popular name on rushtok this year…”
The user theorised that there were so many young women named Bella rushing University of Alabama this year because the popular book, Twilight, was published 18 years ago on 27 September 2005. She noted this was the same year that the majority of 18-year-old girls in the new freshman class were born.
Moxie argued that parents were inspired to name their baby girls after Twilight’s protagonist, Bella Swan. Fittingly, Moxie used Olivia Rodrigo’s new single, “Vampire”, as the background to her TikTok.
The video has since been viewed over two million times. However, many people had either their minds blown or a total meltdown over Moxie’s theory. “This literally crushed my will to keep going today,” said one person on X, formally known as Twitter. “To be clear it’s that twilight came out 18 years ago.”
In Moxie’s comment section, one wrote that the “Twilight sagaaaaa got them”, while another refuted the theory, stating: “Nope. All these Bellas to be headed to college would have been born on Aug 1, 2001-July 31, 2005. So some Bellas are pre-book.”
The “Bella Boom” - as it was dubbed by one user - is especially prominent in children’s names after 2005, when author Stephenie Meyer’sTwilight series began to skyrocket in popularity. It reached new heights in 2008 when the books were adapted into blockbuster films, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.
On TikTok, one teacher wrote that her middle school students asked her why there were “so many Bellas and Jacobs in their class,” while another one noted there were “three siblings named after Twilight characters” in her class.
As Twilight gradually became a pop cultural juggernaut, the names Isabella and Bella reigned supreme among parents. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), which releases an annual list of the top 1,000 most popular baby names in the US, noted that the name Isabella was already popular in 2005. It ranked as the sith most popular baby name for girls that year.
By the following year, Isabella cracked the top five and went on to top the list in 2009 and 2010, later becoming a top five mainstay until 2019. Meanwhile, Bella sat at 208th in the rankings, but peaked at 48 by 2010 and again in 2018.