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I Used Cookie Dough to Try and Befriend My Imaginary Internet BFF

After forming a virtual connection to Not Skinny But Not Fat founder Amanda Hirsch during quarantine, the influencer's collab with DEUX provided my chance to chat with her IRL.

By Tierney Bricker May 02, 2021 11:00 AMTags
Amanda Hirsch, Not Skinny But Not Fat FeatureE! Illustration/www.eatdeux.com

To follow Amanda Hirsch, better known by her handle, Not Skinny But Not Fat, is to know her. 

While I've actually never met her, I am one of NSBNF's 304,000 followers on Instagram, so that makes me privy to some essential info. I know she has a devoted husband (a.k.a. Husb) who is a good cook, but mostly stays off-screen. I've watched her son Noah, 9 months, try his first solid foods. I've seen the inside of her apartment and know it has great lighting for selfies. I'm aware she went DOY-free (no dairy, no soy, please and thank you!) after welcoming Noah. Basically, I know more about Amanda than I do most of my IRL friends and, truthfully, check in with her more than them. 

But, in a year where living pretty much alone for several months limited my human interaction to waving at my mailman through my window and I felt my friendships dropping like flies due to the pandemic, following Amanda felt like making a BFF I could just laugh with over frivolous celebrity gossip and reality TV shows. And listening to her podcast, Not Skinny But Not Fat, filled the wine-glass shaped hole in my heart where s--t-talking happy hours used to reside. 

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So, when DEUX, a "good-for-you cookie dough" brand, reached out to me about their collab with the American-Israeli influencer, I jumped at the chance to actually talk to Amanda rather than respond to her Stories. (No, she's never written back to me. It's cool.)

A way to befriend her and receive a sample of her product (an Xxtra Chocolate Chip cookie dough with additional chocolate chips and chunks plus has Biotin & Vitamin B12)? Seeing as how cookie dough is actually my favorite dessert, the opportunity was, as Amanda would say, totally my vibe. (BTW, her flavor is ridiculously delicious and I highly recommend obsessively checking DEUX's site until they restock this jar of perfection.)

Unfortunately, for me, my vibes were not that chill when my phone conversation with Amanda first began and my nerves got the best of me, leading to this super cool opener: "I feel like I am talking to someone I already know." People, I have literally interviewed hundreds of people in my career, including two Kardashians. I can usually keep up.

Fortunately, Amanda didn't find that greeting all that strange, saying, she totally got it "I guess because I talk just like this, all day, in your face, everyone feels like they're FaceTiming with me or something. But that's the vibe, I'm glad that you feel that way."

Phew.

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She went onto say "it's weird that it's not weird" for her to feel comfortable with strangers thinking she is their best friend. "It feels good," she added. 

And that natural ease with her followers is just one of the key ingredients in her online success. Just days before our convo, Amanda's DEUX collab had sold out in under two hours. Consider it the Kylie lip-kit of the dessert world. So, while it may seem strange to some people that a brand would choose to partner with a podcast host rather than a traditional celeb for an exclusive product, working with Amanda was a no-brainer for DEUX's co-founder Sabeena Ladha.

E! Illustration/www.eatdeux.com

"Amanda has an incredibly authentic and honest relationship with her followers," Sabeena explained to E! News. "She doesn't share anything that she doesn't absolutely love and because of this, Amanda was the perfect person to partner with for a limited edition flavor."

The XXtra Chocolate Chip is weirdly the perfect embodiment of Amanda herself. A little bit basic—an attribute I bestow with love because we share an intense love for "Kravis" (Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, duh), Hailey Bieber's style and Bravo's Summer House. But it's also got that litttttle something special.  

"The functions included within Amanda's limited-edition flavor are really true to her as well," Sabeena continued. "We wanted to make something that both moms and, more broadly, women, would appreciate and need.

What Amanda really needed, though, was just more chocolate. Relatable, no?

She was already obsessed with their cookie dough after it was sent to her when she announced she was saying goodbye to dairy and soy as she nursed Noah—"When I was suspecting [an intolerance], I went out and I had a cheesefest, like legit fondue up the wazoo. The next day, Noah had the worst day of his life, the worst poop of his life. I was like, OK, that's it"—and her only real directive when meeting with DEUX was simply this: more.

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"Well, because I eat it out of the jar, it's even more so for that," Amanda admitted. "Like, yes it's gooier for the cookie, but because I was eating it out of the jar most of the time, I was always looking for that crunch, like, that big chunk of chip. So when we talked about doing a flavor, we had a bunch of creative ideas and I was like, 'I know this is pretty simple, but this is what I would want.' I'm not a salted, extra this…I just want every bite to be, like, bazillion chocolate chips."

Clearly, it's what her followers wanted as well, trusting Amanda's taste as much when it comes to cookie dough as it does with celebrity gossip. But when she first started the Not Skinny But Not Fat in 2016, it was a meme account. 

"I was like, I have one-liners that I want to post and have people connect with," Amanda, 32, said of the account's origins. "It wasn't then this, like, cult. It wasn't this wild of a thing. I don't know how to explain it. I didn't start the account to gain a following. I didn't even show myself, which is very unlike me. Today, I'm like, who was I pretending to be, like a humble, in the dark, don't know me [type]?!"

But Amanda has always had a passion for celeb gossip, something we also have in common.

She was the young girl at the supermarket with her head in a tabloid that she was definitely not going to be purchasing. "I wouldn't help with the food shopping and then I'd get yelled at by a cashier, being like, 'You have to buy that!' And I'm, like, 'Um no, it's $3.99.'" Same.

Amanda was the person checking Perez Hilton and Just Jared back in the heyday of gossip sites "every single day." Again, same (and in hindsight, problematic, but we scroll and we learn).

So, after always talking to her sister, Arielle Hirsch, about the latest headlines, Amanda took her musings to Instagram.

"I don't remember when it shifted, but one day I was like, well maybe [my followers] care about this too, so I'll share it," she explained. "And then I was like, ooh, you b--ches are also into this s--t!"

"It shifted from kind of a meme account to, like, 'Hey, I'm here,'" she continued, "which was also a funny transition because people were following this account to see funny s--t to tag their friends in and all of a sudden I'm like, 'Hiii!'"

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During that transition, Amanda said she "was OK with losing people along the way and having people stick around that want to follow the account for everything, for me, to see my life, to see the s--t I care about. If you're into everything then stay. If you're not and you don't want to see the Kardashians or you don't want to see me and my son, then you can leave. I know it's a unique kind of thing, like, I post a baby and then Kravis and then whatever, but that's what it became." 

While there are definitely accounts out there with a similar feel, Amanda's vibe is all her own. And I've narrowed it down to three pretty simple things.

First, she's unapologetically into superficial stuff, the things people are usually too embarrassed to admit they care about, especially during a time when very real s--t is going on in the world. 

"I used to be embarrassed about it because my older sister studied nursing and public health and I was superficial and shallow my whole life," Amanda admitted. "But it was considered that, like, 'That's what you care about?'"

Now, though, it's her career. 

"It's been so many years of me doing it because I love it and the satisfaction I feel of just doing something I love and not even making a dime or seeing any kind of fruit from it, aside from jut getting love and support and feeling like I have a community," she said. "Really, I feel like only when Noah was born it kind of felt like there was a big shift to where I started to monetize it and it becoming bigger than what it was."

OK, number two, Amanda keeps it pretty positive. 

"I am obsessive. I will get obsessive with Hailey…the Kardashians," she admitted. "I don't post stuff for people to be nasty. That's not the vibe, so I feel like there's not too much of that on my account."

Sure, Amanda has fostered a fun environment for her following, but also for herself. 

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"The amount of love I get in the DMs, like I don't need anyone. I don't need my husband," she said jokingly (we think?).

And, finally, reason number three: She really is one of us.

"I do talk to a lot of different reality TV stars and celebrities and some have become my friends over time and even though I comment on it, like I maintain those relationships and whatever.," she explained. "But then Addison Rae f--king responded to my Story and I'm going to be excited about that, you know what I mean? Like, I didn't even think twice about posting that, like, should I try to be cool? No. I'm not going to pretend."

Her connection to followers feels so genuine, she theorized "because I didn't come from a reality TV show or something where you would follow me for any other reason than you want to follow and you want to see all the different things because you enjoy them."

And that means she doesn't feel pressure to weigh in on everything happening all the time on Hollywood, because she genuinely enjoys it.  

"If I didn't want to do it I wouldn't do it," Amanda stressed. "I live this anyway, that's the thing. I would've been on top of it just to send to my sister and talk to her on the phone about it."

Sharing her reactions while watching an episode of The Bachelor is just "an innate nature" at this point. 

"Did I turn on Good Morning America to see what Colton [Underwood]'s thing is? I've never watched Good Morning America, but I was like, 'Put it on!'" she explained, "And I am so glad that I caught that. It's almost ingrained in me in a positive way, not in a way where I'm, like, ugh, I have to turn on Good Morning America."

This, of course, lead to a quick sidebar about our personal thoughts on that interview, with many such tangents happening throughout our conversation. We wondered if Jennifer Aniston should date Lenny Kravitz or Jason Sudeikis, which led to a discussion about our very different opinions when it comes to the Ted Lasso star. Don't worry, it was amicable. We shared our intense experiences with various celebrities' fanbases, with me promising not to include them in this article. 

Friends always have each other's backs, right? 

To hold yourself over until Amanda's flavor is restocked, check out DEUX's three other flavors: chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip and ginger doodle

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