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Is it gross to sleep on a stained, yellow pillow? The internet is divided

The discourse has divided the internet after droves of men admitted their emotional attachment to those old, stained pillows.
A yellowed pillow.
An old, dirty pillow.ieang / Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Yellow pillow” discourse blew up overnight on X this weekend, appalling women across the platform and vindicating thousands of men who say they sleep better on the stained yellow pillows they’ve kept for ages.

Internet user Cam Thomson lit the fuse when he posted a photo of a crumpled yellow pillow to X, with corners darkened almost to brown and some areas that had faded back into white.

The photo was taken from Getty Images, but he said his girlfriend was disgusted upon seeing how stained his own pillow was. Still, he insisted that his fellow men can attest to why “this thing is magic.”

“It’s not my fault the pillow is yellow and bestows upon me the most peaceful slumber,” he wrote in a reply.

His post racked up 55,000 likes in less than 24 hours, generating hundreds of replies and thousands of quote-posts adding to the debate over whether those pillows are truly comforting or just plain gross.

He told NBC News that he’s amused by the internet’s response and that he was surprised people feel so strongly about the subject. He had owned the pillow for many years, he said, and switched out his pillowcase about once a year.

“To me, it’s my most comfortable pillow and a sign of a well-loved item,” Thomson said, adding that his girlfriend had pushed him to finally retire it. “I’ve tucked it away into storage. I don’t think I can bring myself to throw it out.”

Within the discourse has also emerged a clear gender divide, with mostly men claiming an emotional attachment to their yellow pillows and women questioning whether they know how to throw a pillow in the wash.

“Part of being a man is using the same pillow since the age of 10 and never washing it,” a user wrote in a reply to Thomson’s post.

“I got rid of my yellow pillows maybe a year ago and I legit haven’t rested comfortably since,” wrote another.

“This is my most masculine trait I fear,” another user posted. “this is what keeps the he in my pronouns.”

A pillow tends to turn yellow over time as moisture collects on its surface, likely from sweat, oil, drool and wet hair. That can lead to a buildup of pore-clogging bacteria, as well as allergens such as dust and mildew, according to the Sleep Foundation, a sleep research organization, which recommends using a pillow protector or a higher-quality pillowcase to prevent discoloration.

One popular post in response to the discussion warns women to leave if they see one of those pillows at a man’s house, calling it the “biggest acne breakout you will ever have in your life.”

“I beg men to buy new pillows. I have never dated a man who DIDNT have at least one” yellow pillow, another user posted. “A pillow case even. A pillow protector. Please.”

Though Thomson’s X post reignited the contentious split in opinion, “yellow pillow” discourse isn’t entirely new to the internet.

Less than two months ago, an internet user looked to Reddit to find community among fellow yellow pillow appreciators — without much success. Under a July Reddit post from a user lamenting about their dad’s refusal to replace his yellowed pillows, a commenter wrote: “You will never understand the bond between a man and his yellow pillow.”

And on TikTok, women began calling out the phenomenon more than a year ago. Despite the facetious internet outrage, the conversation has united men around the world to take communal pride in their yellow pillows. So, for as long as it’s permitted, it seems those old, flat emotional (and neck?) support pillows are here to stay.

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