These BIPOC artists have you covered when it comes to ASMR.
The world of ASMR has been steadily growing for the last few years.
In case you haven’t heard of it, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. The term is believed to have been coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen. It refers to the tingling sensation you get down your spine when stimulated by certain visuals or sounds.
While people have different reactions and experiences to ASMR, for many, it’s a way to self-soothe, wind down, or relax.
With access to mental health services being limited because of fees, stigma, or unavailability, it’s no wonder people are looking for free and alternative ways to better their mental health.
While there isn’t extensive research for ASMR yet, some research has suggested reductions in heart rates, feelings of relaxation, and temporary improvements in depression and chronic pain.
In a time when people are experiencing more anxiety and mental illness, ASMR’s popularity online is indicative that people are searching for and finding calm through ASMR.
YouTube is filled with different types of ASMR videos performed by what the internet has dubbed “ASMRtists.”
While the most common type you’ll find are whisper videos, there are all kinds of techniques. Artists have found creative ways to create different stimuli, like nails on different surfaces or props like brushes and packaging to make sounds like scratching, crinkling, or tapping.
Others use affirming and positive language to inspire greater self-worth and love, while roleplay has also become popular for the intimacy it evokes with viewers.
The world of ASMR, like most media spaces, is not an equal place. As s.e smith wrote for Bitch Media in 2017, ASMR is “very much a white woman’s world.”
In various ways, the content both benefits from and perpetuates the white feminine purity myth. The ASMR genre is dominated by videos of demure, young, white women.
While videos of these artists may be the most viewed, BIPOC artists aren’t shying away from the scene. Even though they might face racist comments and harassment at times, they’re pushing back and taking up space, using different forms of performance and gaining large followings doing so.
These artists are showing that ASMR is for everyone. It can be a tool for BIPOC to be themselves while providing healing.
Here are some BIPOC ASMRtists making waves:
ASMRTheChew is an artist named Spirit Payton who does videos based on chewing sounds. She chews different foods and chewing gum, but she also does things like makeup tutorials and unboxings.
She’s become popularly known as “The Pickle Lady” because of her pickle-eating videos. She came to ASMR to ease chronic pain and anxiety. She found healing in ASMR and started to see improvements in her life.
“It literally gave me my life back,” Payton says in an interview with Afropunk.
Payton then wanted to share this powerful tool with others. She’s found a deep love for it because of how much it helps her and her followers.
Arnaq came to the scene in 2014. She’s one of the few in the small, but growing world of indigenous ASMRtists in North America.
Arnaq is featured on the ASMR Chess channel, with a playlist of videos of her whispering while speaking in Kalaallisut, an Inuit language.
People tune in to hear her soothing whispers, but Arnaq’s videos have a deeper meaning — they’re a reclamation of language and of ancestral storytelling.
She tells stories of ancient Greenlandic myths passed down through generations, like the legend of The Mother of the Sea.
Dyala, who doesn’t show her face, started doing ASMR videos this year and has become one of the most viewed Arab ASMRtists.
Her first few videos involve no talking while using her hands and props to make sounds. You can find all sorts of ASMR triggers for relaxation and better sleep, like brushing the microphone, kinetic sand cutting, and blowing bubbles in water. Her videos usually contain a number of techniques in one.
In her latest videos, Dyala whispers in Arabic while roleplaying, showing her storytelling skills. In one video, she “tells the story of her life.” She describes being born on Mars and what life is like there, all while helping listeners fall asleep.
Batala has been doing ASMR videos for the past 3 years. She’s been hard at work, offering hundreds of uploads of all different kinds of ASMR.
“This channel is dedicated to making you relax!” she writes.
You can find most types of triggers like nail tapping, finger fluttering, mouth sounds, roleplay, and more.
She also works with quick and chaotic fast sounds, which differs from the usual slow and relaxing ASMR sounds. She still offers slow and soothing options for people who don’t like aggressive sounds.
She’s managed to get over 84 million views, and she’s still going strong.
Matty Tingles joined the ASMR scene in 2015 and has become a popular ASMRtist with a wide range of different content.
An experienced vlogger, he moved seamlessly into whisper and soft-spoken videos where he has a series of different roleplays, showcasing his acting skills.
Tingles is also a reviewer of his other passions like sneakers and games, and you can find unboxing videos for different products. He uses unboxing to create dynamic sounds, aiming to relax and entertain.
ASMR Sharm is another versatile artist who uses multiple techniques. She has playlists themed by user’s specific needs, like fast and aggressive or slow and soothing.
She also combines the fast and slow sounds in an unpredictable style. She has videos of no talking and some where she focuses on the visuals only, using her hands and other body movements or lights to create visual stimulus.
One of her defining offerings are her positive affirmation videos. For these videos, the focus is less on tingles and more about feeling better and dealing with emotions.
Sharm is open about her own struggles. She shares when she’s had a bad day, saying that while she’s making other people feel better, she’s also making herself feel better.
Chyna Unique’s ASMR style is centered around dynamic sounds and relaxing triggers for sleep.
While her channel has a wide variety of techniques, she’s especially known for her nail tapping and mouth sounds. She’s always got bright and beautiful acrylic nails that she taps and scratches on the microphone, her teeth, or objects.
Her whispers are extra quiet and she manages to perform an impressive variety of mouth sounds. She has a positive spirit and uses words of affirmation.
Sometimes it’s a family affair featuring her little sisters eating together or doing relaxing hair play.
Sas has become a bit of an internet phenomenon in the genre of the ASMR-mukbang or the ASMR-eating subculture.
Starting her channel in 2016, she has garnered a massive following making videos eating all kinds of food from sushi, to pasta, to Pringles. The sounds of crunching, slurping, gulping, and chewing are all there — and people can’t seem to get enough.
Some of Sas’ videos include food preparation, and she combines her love of sounds with the visual appeal of the foods she chooses.
One of her most viewed videos is her eating a raw honeycomb, appealing to those who find the stickiness of the honey to be satisfying to watch and listen to.
These artists are not only helping to bring healing to their communities, they’re inspiring other BIPOC creators to start their own channels.
Many Black artists are working together, challenging the default of whiteness as the face of ASMR. It’s up to us, consumers of ASMR, to choose our content consciously.
There’s a big world of ASMR to dive into if you haven’t yet, and no matter what you’re looking for, these artists have you covered.