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As the Snapchat editor for Cosmopolitan, I attract millions of viewers to our Discover channels every single day. But while I’m good at my job, I’m awful at maintaining a personal brand that’s interesting to anyone other than my mom. In fact, I’ve publicly failed at influencing several times.
True fans will recall the time I tried to become a butt influencer by eating and weight lifting my way to a bigger ass in two weeks. While my tush is still thicc (thanks for asking!), I don’t yet have a fitness app or, I don’t know, a line of edible thongs. I also tried becoming Chrissy Teigen by cooking my way through Cravings 2 (opens in new tab). But my cookbook deal is nowhere to be found, and I’m still not married to John Legend.
I thought the sun had set on my influencer trajectory until I discovered mukbang—a phenomenon in which vloggers eat ridiculous amounts of food on camera. Imagine: seafood boils, platters of spicy shrimp, towers of crab, you name it. It originated in South Korea but migrated to the U.S. via YouTube. Oh, and did I mention that these videos earn their stars a hell of a lot of money? And that wearing sweatpants is acceptable?
Recently, while watching Eat With Que take down a 15-pound lobster, I thought to myself, Perhaps I’ve failed at my other influencer pursuits because I’m destined to be a mukbang star. Also: Perhaps I can pay off my student loans by turning my body into a human vessel for seafood.
Success wasn’t guaranteed, but it was worth a shot.
I knew that I needed to do my homework before I could dive mouthfirst into this endeavor. So I binge-watched dozens of mukbang videos, FaceTimed with a legit mukbang influencer (opens in new tab), and took a field trip to the fish market. There, I locked eyes with one lobster in the tank—a real beady-eyed sucker looking to stir up some trouble—knelt down to his level, put my hand to his claw, and whispered, “You don’t scare me, chief. I’m from New Jersey.”
Am I going to be the world’s next top mukbang star, or did I crack under pressure? Check the video to find out!
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Mia Lardiere is Cosmopolitan’s Emerging Platforms Director who oversees Cosmo’s Snapchat Discover channel, TikTok page, and Clubhouse rooms.
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