Illustration by Leanna.

Illustration by Leanna.

People throw around the phrase “contagious laughter” like it’s a good thing, but did you know that, once upon a time, laughter became literally contagious, causing girls to giggle for days on end? Or that, centuries before Footloose hit theaters, a dangerous dancing plague broke out, causing people to waltz themselves to death?! Or that hundreds of girls reported experiencing the same physical symptoms as the characters in an episode of a beloved Portuguese teen drama, Morangos com Açúcar (aka Strawberries with Sugar)?

These aren’t urban legends, but rather, cases of “mass psychogenic illness,” aka the “rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms affecting members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous system disturbance involving excitation, loss or alteration of function, whereby physical complaints that are exhibited unconsciously have no corresponding organic aetiology.” Apparently, mass psychogenic illnesses affect teenage girls more than any other demographic, so I decided to do a little research and dig into some lesser-known outbreaks. Today, I’m shedding the light of a million twinkle lights on some plagues you won’t find documentation of anywhere else, because the media doesn’t want you to know the truth!!

Cat Eye Liner Hysteria

In March 2012, dozens of students at an all-girls Catholic school reportedly became able to only communicate in meows. Nuns at the school believed the outbreak to be an outcry against the school’s strict no-makeup policy, which left girls unable to participate in the beloved cat eye liner trend, but students insisted the reaction was involuntary. Many cast members of the school’s spring musical were afflicted and feared they would never be able to perform normally again. Instead of canceling the musical, the drama club decided to put on a production of Cats in an attempt to maintain normalcy.

The Transitory Outfit Outbreak

After reading the same magazine that featured a cover story which promised to show how to “take your outfit from day to night” in a hair salon waiting room, many young women reported feeling naked once the sun set, despite being fully clothed. One victim stated, “I became so concerned that my outfit could not make the journey from day to night, I started to leave work early. I didn’t want the sun to go down while I was commuting home or else I’d feel naked in front of all those strangers on the train!” In an attempt to cure the outbreak, doctors distributed clutch bags and bold jewelry, hoping that these accessories would aid in helping the victims feel that they’d successfully made their outfits nighttime-appropriate.

Eyebrow Strength Epidemic

A group of friends in a suburban Pennsylvania town reported feelings of extreme heaviness around the eyebrow region of their face, causing them to have to lie their heads down at all times. The girls claimed the symptoms emerged quickly after complimenting one another’s eyebrows by stating, “eyebrow game strong.”

Statement Necklace Syndrome

In the fall of 2011, Forever 21 recalled thousands of “statement necklaces” after many customers reported that a human voice began emerging from the necklaces and convincing them to engage in dangerous behavior for the sake of making a statement. “I thought the necklace would add a fun pop of color to my button-up shirts,” claimed one victim. “Next thing I know, I’m at SeaWorld chaining myself to the inside of the orca tank to protest animal captivity.”

Invasion of The Cookie Dough Snatchers

A small group of high school girls were suspended for bringing a tube of raw cookie dough into the cafeteria and sharing it with one another, with the administration citing this as a “potential salmonella risk.” Soon after, other girls across the county reported feeling intense cravings for raw cookie dough so powerful that they began walking to the grocery store in their sleep, breaking in, and clawing at the Pillsbury display like zombies.

The Great Kik Kicking Plague of 2014

Several girls at a middle school began uncontrollably kicking their legs for days on end. At first doctors believed them to be suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome, but then discovered the kicking was a neurological symptom of having countless straight white boys commenting, “You got Kik?” on the victims’ Instagram selfies.

Yoga Pant Plight

Dozens of girls were reprimanded for wearing yoga pants to a Minnesota high school after the principal claimed they were “too revealing.” Soon after, the girls began reportedly involuntarily contorting their bodies into yoga positions. Eventually, members of the school’s administration also came down with this condition. The principal became stuck in “downward dog” for seven hours, causing his pleated khaki pants to split. Convinced the outbreak was the result of a hex the punished girls had placed on him, the principal left town, never to be heard from again. ♦