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  Keeping it Real with Dope Kitchen
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Keeping it Real with Dope Kitchen

How influencer Nicole DiMascio, aka Dope Kitchen, uses her platform to challenge stoner stereotypes and promote honest conversations about mental health 

Sara Russell

Three weeks into the pandemic, Nicole DiMascio was sad, anxious, and lonely in her studio apartment. She hadn't seen her friends in weeks. She remembers, “I was in bed all day, every day. Even though I was grateful enough to have a job that I could work remotely, I just didn't know what to do with myself. And I was getting really depressed [and] the gym wasn’t taking [it] away … All the things that I loved were being taken away from me and I had no idea what to do.”

Sick of being bed bound, she decided to get stoned and bake a pie.

“It was a pie that was kind of nostalgic for me,” she says. “It's my grandmother's grandmother’s ricotta pie. She's very Italian. She gave me the recipe and I baked it. And I decided to film myself just to share it with my friends on my personal Instagram story.”

What started as just wanting to make her friends laugh during a dark time turned into 18,000 views on TikTok and a flood of requests to turn the content into a series all about cooking while stoned. Now, her Dope Kitchen account on TikTok has more than 1.2 million followers, and content creation is her full-time job.

Cannabis as a Tool for Intentionality

DiMascio, who is also a MUD\WTR ambassador, has an underlying philosophy of using cannabis to get in touch with your self, saying “Fuck it to what everyone else thinks about you and just do whatever makes you happy.”

But she’s quick to add that doesn’t make life a reckless free-for-all. She stresses the importance of finding your own personal balance, especially since, as she notes, “As a society we tend to indulge in things a little bit too much.”

She admits moderation is potentially tricky with cannabis consumption. “Some people are afraid to take a step back and consume less or go on a tolerance break because they don't know what it's like to live life without the influence of cannabis in their day-to-day lives,” she says. “What I like to say to that is, ‘What are you scared of? Why are you scared of being alone with your own thoughts that are not influenced by a plant?’ Be with yourself for a little bit and you learn a lot about yourself when you stop indulging in things that are distracting you from other areas of your life that you might need to focus on.”

Protecting and Promoting Mental Health as an Influencer

Mental health is one of those areas that’s critically important to DiMascio.

In addition to challenging stoner stereotypes, she’s also taking a stand against the hyper-curated cult of perfectionism that dominates social media. She emphasizes, “I want people to see that I am flawed and I have problems and I have mental health issues that I constantly work on every single day.”

In addition to keeping her humanity in full view, she uses her platform to uplift her efforts to improve her mental health. She says, “I want people to see that I'm also putting in the work to get better and to work on my mental health, because I think that's an important example to set as well. And there are still things that I maybe don't love about myself that I'm working to improve all the time. And I'm still in therapy and will be in therapy for a long time just to keep working on that. And … cannabis and mushrooms [are] a way to help me with my mental health as well.”

With authenticity, intentionality and mental health guiding her life design, she decided to quit her job to pursue full-time content creation. She remembers, “I needed to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the life that I was living for two and a half years of working full time and making content nearly full time on top of that. I was just working around the clock and I was exhausted. And when you take away the 50-hour work-week from your schedule and you're all of a sudden left with all this time that needed to be filled, I had no idea how to fill the time because I feel like I had lost myself over the last couple of years.”

That is, until one good acid trip on her porch while she painted showed her what to focus on: “What I got out of that trip was this desire to have the same amount of joy in my life that I had on that day of the acid trip. And finding little moments of joy in my life meant finding new habits that I could add to my routine in a healthy way because I was waking up without a plan every day.”

Hating how it felt trying to frantically figure out what she was going to do with her day pushed her to overhaul her habits and create some healthier routines.

She started waking up and going to bed at the same time, reading before bed, and cold plunging in the ocean. “It's hard to cold plunge in the winter, especially in the ocean,” she notes. “Those waves make it way more intense. So it was a bunch of habits that I kept stacking on top of each other. It started to make me feel a little bit more in control of my day and a little bit more in control of my life and my body and my mind. And I started to feel a lot better.”

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