I Met the McDonald’s Goddess and She Acts Like an Actual Doll

The 22-year-old Internet celebrity rose to international fame when a photo of her working at a McDonalds in Taipei went viral. I found her through her Facebook page (where she calls herself Little Dolphin) and met up with her in Taipei.

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Dec 28 2015, 5:00pm

The photos are true. Phoebe Xu really does look like a doll—even in person.

The 22-year-old Internet celebrity rose to international fame when a photo of her working at a McDonalds in Taipei went viral. She was flattered but not fazed. Turns out, Xu was already well-known in Taiwan before the international recognition. She has a Facebook page with more than 110,000 followers and has been in high demand in the East Asian entertainment and modeling world for years now.

I found her through her Facebook page (where she calls herself Little Dolphin), sent an email, and met up with her in front of a Starbucks in Taipei.

I'll admit: Interviewing Xu was a bit odd. Xu is as sweet as she looks online and her doll-like mannerisms extend well past her appearances. She speaks in a high-pitched "baby" voice and every time the camera shutters, she'll automatically switch to a new pose: a hand on the hip, a wink, a V sign, a subtle flick of the tongue.

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All photos by Clarissa Wei.

She has an air of shyness to her (whether or not that's a façade, I'll never know) and talks in short, smiling sentences that are intensely polite. It was almost as if I actually was interviewing a small child.

She also had a chaperone. A young man stayed by our side the entire time, listening intently to the entire conversation.

MUNCHIES: Are you still working at McDonald's? Phoebe Xu: Yes. I work there part-time.

How long have you been there? Five years.

Do you remember the moment when that photo of you was snapped? I saw the guy just standing there. Yes. He was just taking photos.

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Did you think it was weird? Or are you used to it? I'm already used to it. A lot of customers will do it.

How long have people been taking pictures of you in McDonald's? Three years.

What happened to generate all of the sudden attention? I think it was when I was started losing weight.

Wait. What? So when people noticed you were skinnier, they started taking photos of you? Yes. There were more folks coming over and taking photos of me.

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That doesn't make sense. What was the defining moment? In the beginning, there was a photographer who went to [McDonald's]. He was a friend of a friend. He asked me if he could take a picture of me. Then I started modeling for him. And then I got more gigs like that.

Don't you get annoyed at people bothering you while working? No, I'm not inconvenienced. I'm just afraid the boss would mind.

But you've been good for business I presume? Yes.

Any weird stories? There are some customers who really like me and pretend I'm their daughter. They say, "Adopted daughter, I'm here. Your daddy is here."

Wow. That's really creepy. Are they super-old? Not necessarily. They're just a bit weird. And they'll invite me out to eat with them.

Do you go out with them? No.

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Do women seek you out? Or is it mostly men? It's mostly men. But there are women as well.

Do you eat McDonald's? I'll eat a bit at work and then I'll bring some home for Mom.

What's your favorite thing to eat there? I like to eat barbecue chicken. Or the roasted chicken sandwich. It's roasted. You won't gain that much weight.

Why did you start working at McDonald's? The location was convenient. It's right next to my high school.

What's your favorite thing to eat in Taipei? Ramen.

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Store? [She pauses, thinking. The guy mutters something] That's not good. I'm a fan of Hakata Ramen 博多拉麵.

What do you call yourself? Or rather, what is your profession? "Internet personality."

How do you feel about all the fame? I was quite surprised. But I think most people think I'm just like a little kid.

Have people purposely sought you out? Yeah there are foreigners who fly over here to Taiwan just to take photos with me.

You're 22 and a university student. What are you studying? Fashion.

Were you always popular? Even before you started modeling? Yes. Starting in middle school. I think it's because of my eyes. I have rather big eyes.

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How long is your daily skincare routine? 20 minutes.

What are your dreams and ambitions? I want to save money and open a restaurant with my mom.

Oh. That's cool. What type of restaurant? A tea cafe with simple meals. I really like to makes dessert. I can make pudding. I squeeze a lot of juices. And I like making cakes.

Anything you want to say to your international audience? Thank you for sharing my photos.

Great. Well thank you for coming out. Now, this is a weird question, but who is this guy? Is he your boyfriend? Yes, but we keep it low-key and don't let the Taiwan fans know.

[To the boyfriend] Did you know her before she was famous? What was it like? Boyfriend: Yes, I did. She just gets more attention now.

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Does it bother you? Only recently. It's starting to make me nervous.

Thanks for speaking with me.