“What‘s up, it’s me… JAW GIRL!” begins Cayley Boyd’s TikTok video where she explains, just days away from her final craniofacial surgery to cut the wires binding her teeth shut, how nice her 121k followers have been to her throughout the process.
For six weeks, she could eat only liquid meals and speak like a ventriloquist. She documented it all on her TikTok page, @zacenron. Boyd was at a music fest in Butte, Montana, living her best life when she face planted on a curb. Her jaw broke and, as she explains, the designated procedure to fix a broken jaw is to wire it shut for six weeks.
The results are visually frightening, but instead of holing up in private, Boyd, 23, continued working her bartending job at a backwoods lodge in Montana during hunting season (which, for those not in the know, generally lasts from late August until Thanksgiving) while recording the emotional rollercoaster ride of not being able to eat or speak properly. The more “fans” Boyd gained by posting her genuinely inventive videos – her jawtent – if you will, the more she became associated with that singular identity; similar to recent viral TikTokker, Kombucha Girl.
In order to complete this interview about her newfound virality, Boyd had to drive 20 miles and use wifi calling. Needless to say, she hasn’t yet been stopped in the street for a selfie. However, her plight and the subsequent milking of it for meme-y videos has been a real joy to watch.
Tell me about your life.
Well, I’m TikTok famous. Fuck. I’m a bartender. I literally bartended for two weeks with my jaw wired shut and you have no idea how good it feels to have that shit out. I am killing it. I just get a lot of good tips. I made so much fucking money.
Where are you?
Right now I’m 20 miles outside of Augusta, Montana, down a dirt road in a bunkhouse. My life is a weird thing, Trey, is what I’ll tell you. My life is really weird.
What happened to your jaw?
I went to Butte. Have you ever been to Butte Montana? It was the folk fest, which was a huge party in Butte. And I basically just ate shit, hit the curb, stood up and was like, “Oh God, no.” Sat back down and could feel my jaw had completely broken apart. And I could feel it moving around. So I told my friend, I’m like, “This is broken.” [I took] an Uber over to St. James, which is the hospital there, and they basically gave me a ton of morphine and told me I have to go through craniofacial surgery. So then I called my dad. My dad came and picked me up. And while we were waiting for him I made the hospital TikTok – I don’t know if you’ve seen but it’s like me in the hospital. My eyeliner is like all over my face and my mouth is bloody and it’s to the Nacho Libre theme song, and you can see my jaw being completely broken or whatever. And I made it because I think it’s hilarious to TikTok inside of hospitals.
I did a thing where I said I hit a curb and I broke my jaw and now it’s wired shut. And then I did the one, the Kanye one was the big one. When I did Through the Wire. I made the Kanye one, it blew up and got 90,000 likes or something and then I just started gaining followers and I had like 3,000 after that. And then I did an FAQ because everyone was like, “How do you eat? How is it possible for you to eat, what happens if you throw up?” And then that one now is at 3 million views and something like 300,000 likes. I keep making content. And it’s funny.
OK, so you got your jaw wired shut. How does that work?
Basically, if you break your jaw, you have two options. They do surgery and set you up with steel plates and then you’re wired shut for two weeks or they just wire shut your teeth. They align your teeth and then wire it shut and then you’re stuck with it for six weeks, which is what I did. It’s just basically a cast for your mouth. So your jaw just heals. People used to do it to lose weight, which is insane to me.
How do you feel about being known as “jaw wired shut girl” forever?
It was honestly so fucking funny – I don’t care. I can be jaw wired shut girl forever. While my jaw was wired shut, I developed the relationship with food where I was like: “Oh this is literally just sustaining me.” So then I was in this weird monastic mode of self-reflection and trying to keep my chill, because honestly, [before my accident] I was on a full-on bender.
So what did you eat?
At the beginning, I wasn’t eating very much at all. I would have some broth but my teeth were sensitive. At one point I tried to juice stir fry, which was the most disgusting thing. It makes me sick thinking about it now. At one point – which I refer to it as hitting rock bottom – I went to this bar with my friends to watch Bachelor in Paradise and this was when I was still in Missoula. But they got a plate of cheesy tater tots. And I was watching them eat the tater tots and I literally took a tater tot and was trying to pull it apart into tiny pieces and shove it behind my teeth and the wires got all disgusting. And I was like, “I hate myself!”
I noticed like there are so many popular videos on TikTok of people with disabilities. I was wondering how you feel about the app being a positive way to showcase different lifestyles and very different issues people deal with.
For sure. If you can do it and raise awareness, I think it’s cool. People for the most part are really, really nice; there has been limited nastiness in my experience. I’m sure that’s not the case with everyone but I have a lot of faith in Generation Z and they’re doing OK in my opinion.
And just because I want to give you an opportunity to not talk about your jaw. I’m just curious about what you care about or what your plans are for the future…
Yeah, well, trying to monetise TikTok hasn’t worked out yet. I was like, I need to text Colgate! I need to text Oral B! I need to get in touch with all of these people. I think that bird may have flown the coop though, now that the jaw has been set free. Honestly, I might get a writing job. My friend who is with me in Butte, we might be doing a column for Protean magazine, but I’m not sure.