If your TikTok “For You Page” has been anything like mine, the name Emily Mariko should sound familiar. If not, you might know about the salmon and rice sensation that has taken social media by storm.
Emily Mariko is a 29-year-old content creator situated within the Bay Area of California. She posts lifestyle, productivity and cooking videos on social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. However, it was not until her salmon and rice dish that Emily Mariko became a household name. Emily’s video content includes ASMR-style cooking videos, where she promotes an effortless lifestyle that seems attainable and out-reach at the same time.
The Emily Mariko Effect has been around for ages, much longer than Emily has been in the limelight. The origins of such an effect can be traced back to 2014 Tumblr and the grunge aesthetic phase. Social media users love the idea of an aesthetic appeal. Whether it be a “cottage core” aesthetic, the “e-boy/girl” trend, or the “boho/stoner” aesthetic, people love the idea of fitting into a particular niche.
The issue with an aesthetic like Emily’s is that not everyone can afford to keep up with it. Emily’s brand is all about being effortless, clean, sustainable and simple. Her aesthetic and style seem so unattainable to social media users, but the truth is that it really isn’t. Not everyone has the financial means to shop sustainably and make the healthiest living choices all the time.
The Emily Mariko Effect has nothing to do with Emily Mariko at all, actually. Instead, it is about romanticizing a certain lifestyle aesthetic because you want to mirror it in your own life. When 2014 grunge Tumblr was famous, everyone had a polaroid, everyone loved chokers and flower crowns. In 2021, minimalist décor and sustainable living are all the rage. However, as previously mentioned not everyone can live this lifestyle for one reason or another.
Emily’s aesthetic fits into the popular “that girl” trend. If you go on TikTok or YouTube and type in “that girl,” you’ll be met with thin women who all wake up at 6 am, live in beautiful apartment complexes, drink green juice, shop at Whole Foods, cook sustainably sourced meals and have what seems like the perfect life.
The issue with perfection is that as a society, we place too much importance on what is perfect. Deviating even a little bit from that perfection results in us thinking we are “less than”. Thus, if we collectively, as social media users, have decided that Emily Mariko has a perfect life, we will try to recreate her lifestyle. However, if we cannot live up to the standards that we have set for ourselves by watching her videos, then we are unhappy with ourselves. It is also important to note that we see 15-60 second clips of Emily’s life and those clips are what she chooses to show her audience so realistically we do not know the entirety of life or what goes on behind the cameras. Therein lies the problem; if our life does not look like what we perceive to be perfect, we will be unhappy with the life that we do have.
Personally, I really like Emily’s content and find it relaxing to watch her cooking videos. However, I, too, am guilty of recreating the salmon and rice dish (and loving it). It is important to note that while we can take inspiration from her lifestyle and the lives of other influencers alike without wanting their lifestyles to be our own.