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Woman Amasses Thousands Of YouTube Followers By Gorging On Junk Food

Woman Amasses Thousands Of YouTube Followers By Gorging On Junk Food
Fabio Mattison (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Gorging on junk food for her 8,000 strong following of YouTube fans in Mukbang videos has not only cured a former office administrator's decade-long eating disorder, it is also giving her a healthy alternative income.

One of the first U.K. YouTubers to join the Mukbang craze – a trend started in South Korea in 2010, which involves people eating piles of food on camera while interacting with their audience – North Yorkshire-based Fabio Mattison, 28, first watched one of the films back in 2014.

After her eating disorder had left her worrying about gaining weight and struggling to eat in front of people since her late teens, instead of being repulsed by the idea, when she made her first video in 2018 she found it strangely therapeutic, saying: “Having thousands of people watching me eat online has somehow allowed me to enjoy eating again."

She added: “I've had issues with food since I was 19 years old. I was constantly worried about putting on weight, and I had insecurities about people watching me eat.

“And it even got to the point, instead of going to the kitchen, I'd often cook and eat my food on a stove in my room.

“But when I started watching Mukbang videos I realized that food wasn't the big bad wolf, or something to be afraid of – so I decided to try making one myself."

Fabio Mattison (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Now happy to make money by wolfing down fast food, such as McDonald's, KFC, pizza, and Taco Bell online, having previously tried counseling to ease her anxiety around food without success, she says her videos are like “home therapy."

She continued: “I get a lot of people who suffer from anxiety messaging me. They say my videos have helped take their mind off things, which, in turn helps me by boosting my self-esteem.

“Also, if someone's a bit lonely they message me and say, 'Thanks for keeping me company.' I want my videos to be a warm and inviting space – it's like an online community of friends."

Fabio has a growing fan base for her Mukbang output, with almost 90% of her viewers living in the U.S., and has now made over 50 videos – capturing herself eating an array of foods, ranging from chocolate fudge cake to chicken nuggets and chips.

“Fast food is the most popular, though. I think people like watching it as a guilty pleasure," she explained.

“The food you eat on camera needs to be exciting, so I always try and research what is doing well. Eating salads is never going to be as popular as eating a takeaway, as it's way too virtuous."

Fabio Mattison (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She added: “If someone's trying to cut out carbs, or is allergic to a certain type of food, I think they get a kick out of watching someone else eat what they can't."

While she believes many of her subscribers watch her videos for some innocent fun, Fabio – who also uploads make-up tutorials to YouTube – admits there are some who get kinky kicks from watching her scoff.

“I can understand why people with food fetishes would watch my videos," she said, admitting that her family were initially skeptical about her Mukbang films and struggled to “get their heads around" the idea of her eating food online.

Fabio eating a pizza (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“I can see how some viewers might find some aspects of my videos arousing – like my lips being around a burger or hot dog," she continued.

There are other subscribers – mainly fans of ASMR videos, which feature people making soft, tingly sounds which aid relaxation and sleep – who prefer to listen to Fabio chew.

She said: “Some subscribers ask me to eat with my mouth wide open and others want to hear me chew."

She added: “I think they find it relaxing and like to fall asleep to the sound of me chewing."

Sadly, as well as a platoon of fans, Fabio has also attracted her fair share of online trolls.

“You have to take the bad with the good, but some people can just be plain rude," she said.

She explained: “People will say stuff like, 'Who is that creature?' or 'Look at those lips?' It can be disheartening, but I know it's just Internet trolls with nothing better to do."

Bizarrely, some online commentators even take swipes at the food Fabio eats.

“Some people will even ridicule what I'm eating. They'll say, 'Your tacos aren't crunchy enough' or 'Your food looks stale,'" she laughed.

Fabio eating some snacks (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“Sometimes people get really fussy about how I position the food in front of the camera," Fabio added.

And there are viewers who are very particular about the food Fabio – who also eats sweet plates of fudge cake, chocolate bars, and cheese cake online – devours.

“I get requests asking me to eat a Chinese or an Indian takeaway, and I'm not really a fan of either. I want to eat food I enjoy," she said.

Fabio Mattison (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“I ate dumplings once, I hated them – I physically couldn't eat them. But I added it in a blooper video and that did well," she said.

“I guess some people enjoyed watching me eat something I couldn't stomach and seeing my repulsed reaction to the food – and it must've made them laugh."

Fabio has even learned how to control her video budgets, by first making Cookbang videos – another Korean-inspired trend for cooking clips – and then eating what she makes on a Mukbang film.

Fabio with some junk food (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It can be expensive to film with junk food all the time, so I started doing 'Cookbangs,'" Fabio explained.

“I had requests from my subscribers who wanted me cook too. I think it gives them a different perspective on the food I eat.

“I take the audience through the cooking process of dishes like chili or sausages and mash, and then they can watch me eat it at the end."

Unlike some of her Mukbang contemporaries, who gorge on vast amounts of food, Fabio – who films her content in the corner of her living room – says her portions are more controlled.

“I'm more relatable than other Mukbang stars," she said. “I don't just sit there and eat as much as I can – I eat plenty, but I limit it.

“If I'm eating a takeaway like KFC, I'll always order a selection – but no more than four pieces."

Fabio Mattison (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Even though Fabio does not overindulge ridiculously on her videos, if she is planning a particularly calorific clip, she makes sure to eat healthily away from the camera.

“If know I'm going to film myself eating a McDonald's burger or something like that, I'll eat some nutritious food before or after.

“I'll have a salad or a sandwich. I don't calorie count – I just think it's all about balance."

Looking good on camera is another important factor for Fabio.

“It takes me about 40 minutes to get ready. I do my hair and put on a full face of make-up because my image is important to my viewers," she said.

“It's important to look the part when you're on camera."

Observing how making Mukbang videos has improved Fabio's self-confidence her family, although initially skeptical, now see them as a good thing.

“Now my mum watches my videos and she even suggests what I can eat on them," Fabio said.

“She can see that making them has helped my head space."

She continued: “It's not just eating it's about sharing a story too. You can chat to the camera about anything while you eat, and for me that's like having therapy at home.

“And, rather than my videos being just about food, I talk to the audience about everything from my life to just how my day has been. I'm quite real, and if I'm feeling sad, I'll tell my viewers."

For the future, Fabio hopes to continue to develop her YouTube channel and has ambitions to increase her following in the U.K.

She concluded: “I'd love to have millions of followers from all over the world. But I'd really like to grow a fan base closer to home.

“I love creating videos, interacting with the audience and it's helped me to enjoy food again.

“I hope by continuing to make videos I can help other people too."