STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- If youre into food videos on TikTok, AmandaLee Fago has probably found her way to your for you page at least once.
The 32-year-old Graniteville mother and healthcare worker has gained a huge following on the app for her food videos, her parenting stories and her body positivity content.
I kinda got famous on accident, said Fago, who has amassed 1.4 million followers. I honestly joined TikTok because I was at a point in my life with my son when he had a lot of medical health issues and I was just looking for a vice just for a moment to take my mind off things.
At the time, she had taken a leave from her job to care for her son, who needed a knee osteotomy to correct a deformity.
When I came across TikTok and saw all these funny videos, I thought to myself, I can do this,'" Fago said. Im funny and I can eat, ya know? So I just started doing it. It became an outlet for me to channel my pain into humor."
Soon enough, her videos were getting more than 300,000 views.
One particular video that put her on the TikTok map showed her making a bottle for her son, who was 15 months old at the time. She said a lot of the comments were negative because it was controversial to give your 1-year-old child a bottle.
I didnt feed too much into the negativity, Fago said. Instead, I focused on making fun videos and once I started doing the eating videos, thats when I started taking it really seriously.
Food videos combining vegetables, cheeses and spices are a popular trend on TikTok, made famous by user Janelle Rohner and food blogger My Nguyen. A bell pepper sandwich trend -- featuring a fully gutted bell pepper with cream cheese and Everything But The Bagel seasoning -- went viral on the app, sparking thousands of videos reviewing and recreating the meal. (Not everyone is a fan, however. Renowned chef Gordon Ramsey called it an idiot sandwich.)
Fagos twist on the trend has garnered millions of likes. Recently, she posted her own recipe for bell pepper egg salad boats.
The bell pepper and cream cheese trend was good, but honestly its not enough for me, she said. The egg salad boats have been more of my thing. Its a snack Ive always enjoyed and I wanted to share it on this app so maybe other people will try it and add it to their lives.
One of Fagos typical food videos includes topping her mother-in-law Filomenas chicken cutlets with a variety of sauces and eating them with her hands. Her go-to topping is Tajin seasoning, blending chili, lime and sea salt.
A lot of people tell me they had never even tried Tajin until they started watching my TikTok," Fago said. I eat it on everything, I cant stop. I make recipes with it, I put it on my chicken. I really try as many foods as I can with it.
Fago said she personally sticks to a low-carb diet, but does not want to push that on her platform because she wants to keep her content fun and does not want to fall down a rabbit hole of diet trends on the app.
I would never promote a diet; I promote choosing a lifestyle that fits you," she said. I know what works for me because Ive gotten bloodwork done and discussed it with medical professionals. But I want my followers to stick with what works for them.
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES, BODY POSITIVITY
The reaction Fago has received from her videos has been overwhelmingly supportive with fellow moms in similar situations with their children thanking her for her perspective and positivity.
Fago also wants her channel to promote small businesses and body positivity.
These businesses are run by other moms that are just trying to make it through this pandemic, she said. Im trying to help everybody out during this time. But, of course, I try the products out myself first before recommending them to other people."
While Fago has taken the time to publicly thank her supporters for sharing her videos and leaving positive comments, she is beginning to see TikTok cross over into her real life.
People have been ordering food to my house and stuff, Fago said. "I dont know if this is normal because Ive never dealt with this before. I didnt understand how big TikTok really was.
While some of these instances have been a little scary, Fago lists a P.O box in her TikTok bio for followers to send her mail and allow businesses to send her information to promote themselves.
I never want to stop supporting small businesses and using whatever platform I have to help others, she said. I know what its like to be a mom and try everything you can to support your family so if I can help someone do that, this whole thing is worth it.
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