It’s time to downsize. Nay, smol-size. If you’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of social media over the past few years, you’ve probably clocked the mighty rise of the #smol. “Smol” being cute-speak-shorthand for all that is eye-wateringly, heart-curdlingly tiny. How tiny? Think newborn pufferfish. Memes of frogs in cowboy hats, championing the new wave of Yeehaw energy. Those miniature donut cooking videos on your Instagram's Discover page that find you at 3:00 a.m.
How did this smol obsession evolve, and from whence did it spring? We have a few theories. One traces its roots to the musical duo Twenty One Pilots, when, in 2015, member Tyler Josephs referred to himself as “a bean” online, to which Tumblr and Twitter users affectionately replied, “a smol bean.” But some Reddit Elders think the etymology couldn’t have a single source, given the infinite web of internet connections; smolness resonates especially well with kawaii and “miniac” culture, for example, and it’s likely that smol lov snowballed around various subcultures online. That’s nothing new for digital speak. Consider “l8r,” "yas,” and “boi” — words with ties to early ‘00s texting, drag culture, and Black communities. Words whose evolution isn't prodded into being by academics, but organically transformed by the people. In that sense, smol is a reminder: dig a little deeper on new slang. Language matters!
The state of smol today can be found in everything from high fashion (ex. Jacquemus’ tiny Chiquita bag), to stoners looking at pictures of lizards in cowboy hats (us). It feels gimmicky, and it can be, but smol culture has been around for ages. 17th century Europe loved its teeny tiny snuff boxes, and those compartment rings just big enough for Husband Poison. Sure, you couldn’t fit much in a French Limoges snuff box, but that wasn’t the point; Louis XIV revered the glory of their sheer craft and imagination. It's a philosophy echoed by the Japanese art of Chindōgu, or the making hybrid objects (ex. high heels with their own umbrellas) that are “not always useful, but not altogether useless.” The same could be said of smol items today, and it’s that playfulness that makes us lobby for them during one of the most nerve-wracking years in modern history. The smol does not exist for singular, tangible output or dogmatic function; its only concern is the output of our stupid good joy. We need that levity. We need that kind of self-care mixed into the manifesto.
In that spirit, we’ve perused the web for some delightfully smol treasures, from tiny succulents to itty bitty vases; felted critters and wee cowboy hats that remind us: it's a smol world after all.
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Potted Succulent Assortment
How does your garden grow? Ideally, no bigger than 2 inches, which is the height of this mini succulent assortment by The Sill. The ceramic pots come in white or black, and are the perfect housewarming gift for someone moving into a bite sized abode.
The Sill Potted Succulent Assortment, $, available at The Sill
Staub Ceramic Stoneware Mini Cocotte Set
These Staub babies are oven, dishwasher, and freezer safe, measuring in at just 2 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. Your childhood American Girl Doll will try to steal them. Don't let her.
Staub Staub Ceramic Stoneware Mini Cocotte Set, $, available at Williams-Sonoma
Le Petit Chiquito
The bag that launched a thousand Lizzo Tweets.
Jacquemus Le Petit Chiquito, $, available at Farfetch
From the creative felting force known as UniqWool (we see what ya did there) comes this little wooly bunny. So soft. So smol. So ready to rub against your cheek.
UniqWool Needle-Felted Bunny, $, available at Etsy
Set of 3 Miniature Face Masks
Miniature things connoisseurs know to hit Etsy maker Buttercup Miniatures for all things tiny and this collectible is… essential? (Editor's note: They are not). "These are absolutely adorable," says one buyer. "I couldn’t resist getting masks to commemorate this crazy time."
Buttercup Miniatures Miniature Facemasks 1:12 scale, Set of 3, $, available at Etsy
Travel Chess Set
If you've always wanted to invest in a chess set to display, knowing full well you will probably never play it (same), this 4inch rosewood set is for you.
West Elm Travel Chess Game, $, available at West Elm
Mini Resin Flower Vases
Who doesn't need a set of 9 candy colored mini vases? Coming in at under half-an-inch tall, they're the perfect display size for several leaves of grass, or else absolutely nothing.
EMiEN Mini Resin Flower Vases, $, available at Amazon
Micro Miniature Snail
We'll just let a reviewer do the talking on this 1mm high smol boi: "Oh my word, I can't even believe how tiny and perfect this little snail is. You almost can't see it, it is so small, it is just amazing."
AdoreMini Micro Miniature Snail, $, available at Etsy
Himalayan Salt Mood Lamp
Truth be told, those 15 lb salt lamps always felt like a heavy purchase. Imagine the day you'll have to schlep it to your next apartment! Downsize the good vibes with this lamp, which measures just three inches tall. Also a perfect housewarming gift.
Cost Plus World Market Himalayan Mood Lamp, $, available at Cost Plus World Market
Needle Felted British Shorthair
The next best thing to being an IRL cat parent. Or you could gift it to your own cat. So meta!
HandmadeByNovember Needle Felted British Shorthair, $, available at Etsy
Darice Cowboy Hat with Rope Trim
A ten-gallon cowboy hat packed into just two-inches of joy. Put on your finger. Put it on your lizard! Put it anywhere in need of smol yeehaw energy.
Darice Darice Cowboy Hat with Rope Trim, $, available at Amazon
Blown Glass Miniature Perfume Bottles
How on earth these are mouth-blown goes beyond earthling logic. But such is the case for this set of 2-inch tall perfume bottles, handmade in Egypt.
CraftsOfEgypt Blown Glass Miniature Perfume Bottles, $, available at Amazon
Set of 6 Felted Mini Vegetables
Wouldn't it just be so perfect if the smol vegetables found the smol animals? Just sayin.
MyLittleKawaii Set of 6 Felted Mini Vegetables, $, available at Etsy
Mini Bonsai Kit
Never had a green thumb? Flex your green pinky with this itty bitty bonsai kit, which measures in at about 2-inches wide. It comes with seeds, a pot, a peat pellet, and even a pair of mini scissors!
Cost Plus World Market Mini Bonsai Kit, $, available at Cost Plus World Market
Needle Felted Frog
The best thing about this ribbit bb, aside from everything, is that you can ask its felt maker to customize it as a bookmark, phone charm, or dust plug.
VerminPlanet Needle Felted Frog, $, available at Etsy
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