Alexia Delarosa on performing motherhood online
“No one wears white in the kitchen calmly baking with two children. It's just not realistic.”
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
I Feel Bad About My Neck, the redux. —Kate
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Maybe it’s because I’m currently reading my advance copy of Sara Petersen’s Momfluenced—in which she gives Embedded a shoutout!—but I’ve been thinking a lot about how motherhood is portrayed in this new era of performance media. You’ll have to pre-order Petersen’s book to read her (much more coherent) thoughts on that. But Momfluenced has inspired me to take a closer look at accounts like Alexia Delarosa’s TikTok.
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The San Diego-based creator is a full-time stay at home mom who started doing content creation on the side when a recent TikTok of her’s about Cinnamon Toast Crunch went viral. In the video, Delarosa, who is wearing a flowy nightgown and holding one of her two children on her hip, actually makes the cereal from scratch.
It’s called “POV: Your toddler requested Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” and classical music trills in the background as a light smile remains fixed on her face.
“Is this satire,” reads the top comment.
The video—which got over six million views, and made its way onto my FYP through stitches and duets—is unapologetically unrealistic, an aspirational vision of motherhood that many commenters attacked for being unattainable. But whether you found it funny or infuriating, all the attention made one thing clear: Delarosa needed to make more.
“POV: Your toddler requested cinnamon rolls. “POV: Your toddler requested a Dutch baby.” “POV: Your toddler requested beignets.” The list goes on.
“The attention it got, I was like, ‘Okay, maybe there's something here,’” she tells me over Zoom.
Delarosa is aware she’s putting on a performance—the videos are an all-day production. She also plays into the negative feedback, making videos about her children’s beige decor and, weirdly, the way she tilts her neck. Here are a selection of comments from just one video:
“This is very stepford wives/ bent neck lady from the haunting of hill house yet so peaceful.”
“Is it the camera angle or is your neck tilted the whole time??”
“There’s a guy up my street that broke his back a few years ago. He walks around my neighborhood as part of his therapy. He holds his head like this.”
“I think it's the angle of filming,” Delarosa tells me with a laugh. “I'm not, like, trying to be weird.” At least, not originally. Now, she leans—literally—into the aspects of her videos that she knows generates comments, and cheekily engages with the negativity.
I wanted to chat with Delarosa about how she developed this online persona, especially as a newcomer in the space. We talked about balancing content creation with parenting, following up virality, and the fraught nature of performing motherhood online.
Did you have any kind of social media following before you joined TikTok?
I was mainly on Instagram. I've been on there for years and years and I had a little bit of a following, like 8,000-something. Nothing huge. I used to post a lot of travel content, and then last year joined TikTok because Instagram was just so hard to grow on in any way. I was stuck at 8,000 followers for years. And so got on TikTok April of last year and that's what I've been focusing on. And then I started sharing my TikToks on Instagram Reels and I've gotten traction on Instagram that way.
You’ve been focusing on baking content since Cinnamon Toast Crunch took off. Was this always the plan?
It was not always the plan. I was just trying to figure out what my niche was. I was a little resistant to get into any sort of niche because I have a lot of different interests and I didn't wanna get boxed into doing one specific thing. And so I tried doing a little bit of makeup stuff and a day in the life and some cooking stuff here and there. And the cooking and baking is the thing that I really do enjoy doing. I did baking for work. I had a small bakery, like a custom bakery business, that I ran for a few years out of my house. And for some reason I just didn't want to make that my platform. But then after I shared that Cinnamon Toast Crunch video—which was over the top, like I knew it was over the top and a little bit more dramatic than my normal daily cooking. But the attention it got, I was like, Okay, maybe there's something here. And it is what I'm always doing. I'm always in the kitchen and that's just the content that's easiest for me to create.
Did you expect the reaction you got to that video?
I really didn't expect a huge reaction. Up until that point, all the videos that I would share, I'd get like a few thousand views here and there, or some would like totally flop and would get like a few hundred views. So it was more like, this is just fun. And it sounded fun to do, to make Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Why not?
What do you think it was about it that really got people's attention?
So the funny thing is, the comment that I get the most is, “What are you doing with your neck? Why is your neck like that?” And that was just never intentional. There was a video I posted before that of me making bread and jam and butter, and that one got like a million views. But I noticed in that video people being like, "What's wrong with your neck? What's wrong with your neck?" And I was like, "Can you be more specific? I don't know what's wrong with my neck." And then people explained it, like, "The way that you're tilting your head, blah, blah, blah." And I was like, “I think it's the angle of filming. I'm not like trying to be weird.” But I was like, well, I'm not gonna change anything [because] everyone will engage and comment on that. That's definitely the thing that people point out the most, but it's also like, no one wears white in the kitchen calmly baking with two children. It's just not realistic. So I think that's what garners the most attention, that it's just not the norm.
There's the neck thing, and also you'll joke about things like your children's beige playroom. Is it correct to say that you kinda lean into this now?
Totally. And it's funny because that is my preference. That is what our house looks like. That's the decor that I like. But I get that people make fun of that. It doesn't hurt my feelings. I'm like, you're not gonna convince me that it's not cute. I think it's cute for my kids. People are gonna always share their opinion and so yeah, I definitely lean into it.
I'm not a parent, but I've been thinking a lot about how much of a minefield it is to brand yourself as a mother in any way on social media because of the feedback you get. Has that been difficult at all?
I think I realized pretty early on you just can't win because everyone parents differently. Everyone has very strong opinions about what a mom should be doing and how you should be raising your kids. And so I think no matter what I share, someone's gonna have something to say. I could be sharing completely opposite content and people are gonna be like, "Why aren't you getting dressed? Why do you look like that? At least brush your hair." So what I realized is as long as I like what I'm doing and I'm confident in the way that I'm raising my kids and the content that I'm sharing, people can say whatever and it's not gonna hurt my feelings, and I'm just gonna keep doing me. Some people really love it and that's enough for me.
You mentioned that you initially didn't want to box yourself into cooking or baking. What are some other types of content you'd be interested in making?
I used to share a lot of cleaning videos or days in the life, like running errands, things like that. Those are still fun for me to do, but they just don't get the same amount of attention and they're more work for me to film. I have to be very particular about where I put my energy just ‘cause I'm so busy with the two kids. I gotta take care of them first and so I just have to do like what makes sense.
How long would you say an average baking video takes to make? The recipes can be pretty involved.
It's a lot of planning. A few days before I have a list of what would be fun to make this week, and I make sure I have all the groceries and stuff. But day of, beginning to end, it's involved all throughout the day. It's spread out, but it's at least a couple of hours focused work on prepping, active cooking and baking time, and then editing the video and posting it.
Have you built a community that you have a relationship with? How would you describe them?
Definitely. I've met some really awesome stay-at-home moms that live a more traditional lifestyle that really like my content 'cause they're like, "It's so awesome that like you're staying at home with your kids and you're baking all these things from scratch." So I feel like that's the community that I resonate with the most and I relate with the most personally. We're all moms and we have young children and seem to have an inclination to bake things from scratch or do DIY stuff and [lead a] slow-living lifestyle. So there's definitely an awesome community of people that really enjoy what I post and I enjoy what they post, too. And then of course there's, you know, the haters that are gonna say that I'm wasting my time and I should just go to the store and buy stuff.
This is something you've been more seriously focusing on in the past few months. Now that it is growing, do you have any goals or future plans or hopes about the direction that you want to take your content?
I think I'm gonna stick with the food-focused, homemaking kind of things. I really enjoy homemaking stuff, like gardening, things like that. But long-term goals of how I wanna use my social media, I'd love to have a cookbook one day. I'd like to use my social media to drive people towards other things that I'm doing outside of just making videos and sharing things online. Like actually teach people things and create something tangible that someone can hold in their hand, you know?
I feel like "The Toddler’s Cookbook" would do so well.
Yeah. And that's what people ask, too. They're like, "Do you have a website where I can find these recipes? Do you have a cookbook?" And so there's definitely interest there and it's something that's been a goal of mine for a really long time, even before I was on TikTok.
Thank you so much for the love, Kate!