Warning: Some of these images may be triggering.
For teens today, YouTube celebs are just as popular and influential as movie stars. That’s why nearly 20,000 people signed two Change.org petitions to temporarily remove Eugenia Cooney, a popular beauty and lifestyle blogger, from YouTube. (The petitions have since been taken down, likely for violating Change.org community guidelines.)
The petitioners say Cooney suffers from an eating disorder and needs to get help. Plus, they worry that her extremely thin appearance may motivate her fans to lose a substantial amount of weight to look more like her.
Our first thought? You can’t tell if someone is healthy just by looking at them, and it’s never OK to play armchair doctor and diagnose someone from afar, especially when you’re not qualified to do so and you don’t know the whole story. Many assume Cooney has an eating disorder, but she’s never talked about it. In videos discussing the recent controversy, Cooney skirts around the topic and says she has a naturally thin frame.
That said, it’s totally reasonable to be concerned about the impact Cooney’s appearance has on her fans. She has a huge audience—more than 900,000 people subscribe to her YouTube channel, and in a celeb-obsessed culture, it would be naive to ignore the fact that some of Cooney’s fans idolize her. A commenter on one of the Change.org petitions said, “My little cousin lost 17 pounds because she wanted to look like Eugenia. She is now receiving care. She is only 12 years old.”
Since the Change.org petitions were removed, another petition appeared to bring back the original one, but trying to find a way to kick Cooney off YouTube and shaming her in the process is not the answer (it may even be harmful).
Instead, have a conversation about healthy body image with your friends, younger siblings, or kids—and perhaps anyone you know who’s a fan of Cooney. You can talk about why this body type could be dangerous and help them find ways to love their own body.