Latinas Are Tired. These ASMR Creators Are Helping Us Relax

In her most popular TikTok video, Desiree Diaz carefully places ingredients in a tiny pan perched on a just as teeny hot plate. She starts with oil, then sofrito, which satisfyingly sizzles in the pan, before she adds peppers, onions, and garlic. She cooks them until it’s time to add the beans, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. The water, added at the end, makes everything come together. This is the second part of Desirée’s Tiny Kitchen’s recipe for white rice, beans, and chicken — in part one, she made the accompanying white rice and seasoned the chicken — and it has over half a million views. 

As she chops up and mixes ingredients with instruments fit for a Barbie doll, Diaz gently but humorously explains the steps to make the perfect mini plate of Puerto Rican food. Tiny kitchens are hardly a new phenomenon, but Diaz draws directly from her Puerto Rican and Dominican cultures to put her own spin on the trend.

Diaz’s innovative content is part of an emerging subculture of culturally specific ASMR videos. Her audience watches her content so they can relax to her 10-minute-long tiny cooking videos, but initially, she started making Latine-specific content to connect with her younger nephews and grandparents. Now, Diaz has her abuelo try her tiny food on camera, asks her abuela for recipes, and receives feedback from her long-distance nephews, who watch every video she posts. It’s almost like a family production.

@285tonsoffun How mad would you be if they served you Bite sized Alcapurrias 😅 #tinykitchen #cocinitalatina #tinycooking #tinyfood #miniaturecooking #miniaturekitchen #asmr #satisfying #boricua #dominicana #puertorican #puertorico🇵🇷 #alcapurrias #comidachiquita ♬ Salsa Party 1 – Intermede Music

“I really wanted to make content that could be enjoyed by everyone in my family,” Diaz tells Refinery29 Somos. “This was something that my nephews [could] watch as well as my grandparents, and I was able to actually involve them in it. I love to cook so I just took it from there.” And it’s exactly this authenticity that makes Diaz’s content interesting to her audience. 

“One of the things that makes [my content] relatable is that the viewer can see my personality,” she adds. “They can see me including my culture in these videos. They’ll see me doing tiny shopping in the Bronx, and people comment: ‘Oh my God, I know exactly where you’re at,’ and it’s a regular discount store that is accessible to most of us who are low income.” 

Currently living in South Florida with her grandparents, Diaz grew up in New York and has a Puerto Rican mom and a Dominican dad. Unlike most tiny kitchen content that does not include voiceovers, Diaz uses her Nuyorican accent and personality to add genuineness to her videos. Her efforts deliver a uniquely Latine ASMR experience that stands out in a subculture of mostly faceless tiny kitchen content featuring American food. 

“The first video I made with Puerto Rican food was the tiny pastelitos I made with my nephews,” Diaz says. “That’s something that, as a kid, I always remember eating. And I had never seen anybody make them in a tiny version, so I gave it a shot. It didn’t get a lot of views, but I kept at it.” 

“One of the things that makes [my content] relatable is that the viewer can see my personality. They can see me including my culture in these videos.”

Desiree Diaz

Before she set up shop in her teeny kitchen, Diaz made pimple-popping videos. The shift to tiny food was surprising to her existing audience. It wasn’t until she made alcapurrias, about a month into making this kind of content, that her tiny Boricua meals started to take off. Puerto Rican social media pages shared her video with a wider audience, and Diaz felt proud that her creations resonated with people. Up to that point, Diaz hadn’t begun to inject her videos with her lively commentary. Once she did, her views increased. 

“I started making my videos at first without commentary, and I thought I had to do what everybody else was doing to be good at it,” Diaz says. “One day, I just decided to [put] my microphone on and just cook. And that’s when I realized — hey, these people were actually hungry for somebody to say the things that they were thinking while cooking. And it just took off from there.”

The field of ASMR content creation encourages ultra-specific niches, perhaps because the viewers — who usually watch the videos to relax, fall asleep to, or as background noise — have very particular needs as they relate to their deepest memories of comfort. For example, mouth sounds might be relaxing for some, but not others; fast tapping sounds might make someone sleepy but energize others. Consequently, there is space for all kinds of content in ASMR, from the weird and quirky to the culturally specific and nostalgic. 

“There is space for all kinds of content in ASMR, from the weird and quirky to the culturally specific and nostalgic.” 

Nicole froio

This explains why Latine ASMRtists taking inspiration from their personal lives have a dedicated audience. Julieta ASMR started consuming and making ASMR content when she moved to the United States from Mexico, leaving all of her family behind. Feeling the loneliness of immigrating on her own, Julieta decided to make ASMR content that specifically drew on her nostalgic feelings of her life in Mexico.

“It was such a culture shock when it came to the family dynamic that American families have versus the dynamic of Mexican families,” Julieta says. “When it comes to Mexican families, we’re all so close-knit. And we see each other all the time. Our houses are always filled with family, and I went from that type of life to a very quiet, almost isolated life here in the U.S. I was feeling very alone and everything is really far away. So I figured if I feel alone, maybe other people feel the same if they live in a different place from their families, so I wanted to bring that type of comfort to my videos.”

“I figured if I feel alone, maybe other people feel the same if they live in a different place from their families, so I wanted to bring that type of comfort to my videos.”

Julieta ASMR

In her ASMR universe, Julieta features two characters based on the women in her family. She completely channeled her mother for one of them and her abuela for the other. She pays tribute to the ways her mom took care of her when she stayed home sick from school. In one video, Julieta applies Vicks Vaporub on the “sick” viewer, makes tea, and serves hot caldo de pollo to nurse the viewer back to health. 

“The first time that I really dipped my toe into the Latino ASMR world was on TikTok because they have this filter that ages you, and I immediately thought of my abuela,” Julieta adds. “And when I put the filter on, I looked so much like my grandma and a little bit of my mom combined.” From then on, she proceeded to heal many people’s inner child by offering the viewer a Danish cookie from a tin containing actual cookies rather than sewing materials. “I was really passionate about the cookies,” she adds. “I wanted to have this sense of comfort with that video, where I would say how much I love the viewer and how proud I am of the viewer.”

Experimenting with her own nostalgia resulted in Julieta finding a nook within ASMR. She speculates that people relate to her content because of the tiring expectations that Latinas simultaneously be perfect homemakers and independent breadwinners. Julieta’s content allows her mostly Latina viewers to rest, to receive the care they deserve. 

“There’s a lot of pressure on Latina women. … I want my viewers to know that they’re doing great. They’re going to be okay, and it’s okay to just relax, fall asleep, and put your guard down a little bit.”

JULIETA ASMR

“There’s a lot of pressure on Latina women when they have kids to be the heart of the household, to be the perfect wife to their husbands, the perfect mom, the perfect cook, the perfect cleaner, that sometimes we forget that they’re also human,” Julieta says. “I want my viewers to know that they’re doing great. They’re going to be okay, and it’s okay to just relax, fall asleep, and put your guard down a little bit.”

As a queer content creator who came out later in life, Julieta also makes ASMR content for any queer Latine person whose families haven’t accepted them. She emphasizes the importance of representation for her viewers, who might be going through hard times after coming out. 

“I knew I was a lesbian my entire life, but it wasn’t until I moved to America and I really had to dig deep and figure out what I wanted and who I was that I decided to come out as a gay woman,” she says. “So that’s also part of my videos, for any queer people that love to watch ASMR and they don’t see themselves reflected in anybody’s content. You have someone who is unapologetically queer, a lesbian Latina who is not perfect, who’s not going to give you the best audio or the props or the most expensive technology, but I am going to give you a lot of heart, compassion, and understanding for the issues that Latina women go through.”

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