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Business News/ Special Report / These Mom Influencers Embrace the Mess of Real Life; ‘You’re Not Alone’

These Mom Influencers Embrace the Mess of Real Life; ‘You’re Not Alone’


‘Nonaestheticmoms’ ditch the flawless facade of social media, share tips for average families.

Chelsea Delgado, a mom of three in Phoenix, says she lives ’an average, normal-person life.’Premium
Chelsea Delgado, a mom of three in Phoenix, says she lives ’an average, normal-person life.’

In a world of flawless social media “momfluencers" who seem to have spotless houses and an endless supply of earth-tone outfits for their photogenic children, one decided to get real.

“I used to think I couldn’t be a content creator because I don’t live in a pretty house…I mean, look at me," said Katie Ziemer, a 29-year-old substitute teacher and mother of three, in a video posted to TikTok earlier this year. The video showed her getting ready in the morning wearing nondescript black sweatpants and cutting fruit for her kids in a slightly messy kitchen.

“My husband and I are just normal people who make just about enough money to get by every month," she continued. “Can’t afford to do daily or weekly shopping hauls on here or afford to have the wardrobe of my dreams or decorate the way I would like to." Her video has been viewed over five million times on the platform.

A fast-growing class of influencers is committed to showing a realistic look at American domestic life on social media. While wealthier moms show off homes that appear untouched by the children who live in them—with marble countertops and creamy bouclé couches—these women cook in dated kitchens and record from carpeted rooms littered with brightly colored children’s toys. Wearing mismatched pajamas or T-shirts stained with baby spit up, they call themselves #nonaestheticmoms.

“We don’t have the big houses, we don’t have the beautiful picture-perfect life," said Chelsea Delgado, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom of three in Phoenix. “We are living an average, normal-person life…it’s relatable."

Ziemer said she was worried when she and her family first moved into their current rental in Tehachapi, Calif. “I walked inside for the first time and I was like, ‘I cannot make videos in this house! Look at these cupboards, they’re so ugly, and the carpet’s brown, oh my gosh,’" she said. “For a while I was like, ‘This is so embarrassing.’" Then, she had an attitude shift: “Either I can just own it, or I can continue just hiding where we live, which is never going to work."

She decided to own it, she said. Her first viral video, she connected to her viewers by talking about her circumstances and saying that those with limited means weren’t alone. The video brought her over 100,000 new followers and interest from influencer management companies. She now has a manager who helps her book brand deals with clients, including Instacart.

“I get messages probably every day from people just thanking me for my content, which is so weird to me," Ziemer said. “They’ll just say, ‘I see so many of these moms who live a luxurious lifestyle, and they have all these pretty things. I can’t relate to that, but you make me feel better about my life.’"

The nonaesthetic moms speak to people in practical, functional ways—rather than using beautiful scenes to persuade you to buy something because you want to live like them, said Sara Petersen, author of “Momfluenced: Inside the Maddening, Picture-Perfect World of Mommy Influencer Culture."

“It’s something that people can actually put to use in their own lives," she said, “Whereas traditional momfluencer content is really getting you to part ways with your money."

The new influencers offer practical tips for stay-at-home moms looking to spend less. In one video, Ziemer walked her followers through a weekly grocery shopping trip to Walmart, where she showed which items to buy to make family meals for a total of $127. Other videos give instructions for family meals less than $15.

From Delgado is a tip for entertaining young kids: Make a list of items to measure around the house, hand the kids a measuring tape and send them on their way. It’s great when you want them “to occupy themselves at a distance" so you can get some rest, she said.

Alisha Ashour, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom of a toddler in Chicago who posts day-in-the-life videos with the handle @momlife_of1, said she had become more successful on TikTok since getting real about her financial circumstances. When she first started posting on the platform in 2021, she was intimidated.

“There were no moms on TikTok that had a home similar to mine," she said. “All these houses were huge, and they had SUVs and white countertops and hardwood floors." She used to use a backdrop while filming, “so you couldn’t really see my walls and everything," she said. But once she started posting videos of her two-bedroom apartment as it is, she got more interest on the platform.

Now, she regularly posts about making life work in a small space and speaks frankly about her family’s finances. “In one of my videos, I even mentioned my husband makes less than $100,000 a year," she said. “I’m a very open book as far as budgeting because I do want to help other stay-at-home moms that might be struggling with the same things."

“We’ve been living through such a long period of one very particular aesthetic—white and beige and wooden toys and uncluttered houses—that it begins to have a numbing effect at a certain point," said Petersen, the book author. “There’s just a hunger for any nod to messy realities."

For the enterprising middle-class influencer, it can be a path to followers and income streams. Delgado, the stay-at-home mom in Phoenix, has gotten a few brand deals in the midst of posting videos about “fun and frugal" outings she does with her children, which she said has helped her family’s finances while her husband is in graduate school.

Ziemer said she is committed to showing a “humble" life, no matter how many followers or brand deals she gets.

“I am always going to be a hot mess, whether I have a matching set of pajamas one day, or I’m still wearing my husband’s boxers and a big T-shirt in my videos," she said.

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