You cannot open the TikTok app without being bombarded with an upstream of salmon and rice bowls across all For You Pages. Emily Mariko, born and raised in Los Angeles, became an overnight sensation and completely revolutionized TikTok with no means of slowing down her remarkable uprise.
And what makes her so unique? She never speaks during her videos. This may come as a shock to non-TikTok users, but her material remains an ASMR type of relaxation for viewers. After scrolling on the “For You Page” for 15 minutes and watching loud, obnoxious videos, coming across a quiet video of someone cooking ironically appeals to most individuals on the app.
Being known for her leftover staple—salmon, rice, kewpie mayo, siracha and seaweed bowl—Mariko makes Asian-inspired foods look incredibly satisfying, while implicitly sending the message to younger viewers that all food is okay to eat. With respectable portions and appropriate proportions of vegetables, protein, fats and carbs, Mariko is helping form a healthier generation. There have been many comments on her posts saying that she has helped with eating disorders and relationships with certain foods.
Mariko is one of the first influencers to display a truly healthy lifestyle without trying to convey that you must cut foods from your diet to maintain a specific body type. She has helped repair the stigma that white rice is detrimental to health success, while showing us glimpses into her real life.
Because she does not speak in her videos and merely shows that her food is healthy, delicious and proportional, people do not feel pressured and are able to better their life alone. Mariko shows that she works out, gets ready for the day, cooks, cleans and frequently goes outside. These may seem like obvious daily mannerisms to some, but Gen Z verbalizes that it can be hard to even get up to start the day, so with Mariko’s help, more people feel inspired to begin a healthier lifestyle.
More people aspire to look and act like Mariko through her cooking, matching athleisure outfits and slick hair in hopes of achieving this “perfect” lifestyle. But at the end of the day, Mariko does not push this life on any of her followers and allows the viewer to choose whether they want to incorporate her cleanliness into their own lives, or simply enjoy the on-screen peacefulness in a 60-second clip.
While many believe Mariko started posting on TikTok as a put-together lifestyle blogger, she began making videos on YouTube nine years ago. Starting with two-to-four-minute “outfit of the day” (OOTD) videos with 1.2K views, Mariko now posts 13-to-23-minute “day in the life” vlogs ranging from 45K to 453K views per video.
Graduating in 2014, Mariko attended Columbia University and received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavior. She met her fiancé at Columbia and moved back to California, continuing her YouTube career and creating a platform of 5.1 million on TikTok.
Since Mariko recently got engaged, people have begun doubting her abilities in such a committed relationship, as she only shows herself cooking and cleaning. Despite haters’ speculations of Mariko’s life behind the scenes, she has lived quite a respectable one at age 29.
Mariko has accomplished an immense amount of fame from her short time in the spotlight, and there seems to be no reason for followers to become disinterested any time soon.