Charna Rowley, 24, a London based content creator, first started her YouTube journey three years ago. It was when her Chinese mukbang went viral that she started getting noticed by the media, and not in the best light.
Mukbangs first became popular in South Korea but quickly spread all over the world. Also called an “eating show”, they are usually pre-recorded or streamed through platforms such as YouTube, TikTok or Twitch.
At first, Rowley made makeup and clothing haul videos, but because she enjoyed watching mukbangs, she eventually decided to record one herself.
"I really enjoyed watching mukbangs, but I guess I didn’t really have the confidence to do them myself," she says. "But one day I sat down and decided to record one. And I actually had to rope one of my friends into doing it with me because I just couldn’t do it on my own.
"But once I did it, I was really happy with it. When I edited it, watched it back and also the support that I got from it, I realised it’s something that I really wanted to do and enjoyed doing. And that’s where it started."
The Chinese mukbang Rowley posted got over 100 thousand views and when that happened, she was contacted by an agency that wanted to interview her. Being one of the first UK content creators solely with mukbang content, Rowley’s efforts have created a lot of commotion. Various publications spoke about her video, and even ITV’s This Morning wanted to have her on.
Under the pretence of being able to tell her side of the story, Rowley agreed to appear on the show, hoping she will be able to change the narrative of what the media have said until that point.
Watch the video below to find out more about Charna Rowley and her journey.
She says: "To be honest with you, with This Morning, I feel like I was set up. When I got there, they made it look like something that is not, same as the articles."
Rowley’s family was also very disappointed with the way the interview came across. "They didn’t want me to have to go through that, but they were happy that I stood my ground.
"When I first started doing YouTube, I wasn’t living at home. So it’s not really something that my family knew about, apart from my brother, because I was sending him videos and stuff I was doing."
Rowley’s parents did not know what she was doing until she told them. "They didn’t really have a problem with it, but I don’t think they really understood it," she says. "Not because of mukbangs, but they don’t really understand YouTube, and how that could be a career or anything that someone would do.
"With my family seeing what happened on This Morning, I feel like they were proud of me regardless," Rowley says. "My brother mostly as well. Whilst he was at work he even had it live-streaming on his laptop, and after I came off, he was one of the first people that messaged me saying: 'You did so good, and I’m proud of you regardless of what they tried to do. You owned it, and you made it your own,'"
Rowley took a break after the This Morning incident to deal with it, but has plenty of ambitions and goals she’d like to achieve, such as starting her second YouTube channel or being able to travel internationally to record mukbangs in different countries.
She says that what happened made her more resilient to negative comments and trolls. She also advises that if you are thinking of doing content creation seriously to really consider whether you can deal with it.
"If you speak to anyone that does social media more than just fun, but in a career aspect, they will all tell you that mental health is important, and you have to look after yourself.
"If you at any point feel like it’s damaging you too much, then it’s not worth it. But if it’s something you know how to overcome, then it’s worth it, and I’m happy I was able to do that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here today."