A petition to temporarily remove a popular YouTube user from the platform due to her extremely skinny appearance, sparked a debate about the power of social media influencers.
A Change.org petition with nearly 14,000 supporters attests that YouTuber Eugenia Cooney "has a serious medical condition and needs to seek help," and that her presence on the platform is triggering her young fans. Cooney is YouTube user with nearly 900,000 subscribers, and she frequently makes videos centered on beauty products and style.
Petitioners have expressed concern that Cooney's thin appearance is sending a bad message to young fans. One petition signer wrote that their 12-year-old cousin dropped nearly 20 pounds to look like Cooney. For her part, Cooney has avoided answering whether she has an eating disorder, noting in videos that she is just naturally very small. She has also said on YouTube that she suspects that more users are obsessing over her weight because a handful of people have been very vocal in targeting her. ATTN: reached out to Cooney's management for comment on the remarks about her body and was told that Cooney is not currently taking press requests at this time.
"She knows that she's influencing young teenage girls into thinking being 60 lbs. is normal," Change.org petition creator Lynn Cloud wrote. "It's most definitely not. Ever since she has moved out of her mother's house recently, she has been getting skinnier and skinnier. This clearly isn't a 'high metabolism' or any other type of losing body weight uncontrollably condition."
Cooney said in a recent YouTube video that the petition and general campaign against her isn't helpful.
"I just don't really feel like that's ever really a good thing to do to people, guys," she said. "If anything, the whole situation has been kind of upsetting. I'm doing OK, because I'm used to getting hate on the internet. Seeing a lot of dislikes, I just really feel like that's not going to make anyone feel good."
Body image issues and eating disorders at large.
We don't know what's going on with Cooney, her health, or her weight, but we do know that women face undue scrutiny on their bodies and physical appearance — and that eating disorders are a serious illness that impact around 30 million Americans of all genders and ages.
Body image issues are common among women with eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
"People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss," NEDA states on its website.
Some eating disorders can cause victims to experience feelings of shame, particularly if others think the person looks like they aren't healthy. Marya Hornbacher, who wrote a highly publicized memoir about her eating disorder struggles titled "Wasted," told ATTN: earlier this year that it is important to avoid making certain comments to survivors so they don't feel self-conscious about themselves or slip back into their disordered habits based on triggers.
The NEDA has a suggested step by step guide on how to talk to somebody who you may think has an eating disorder. Two suggestions include being "loving and supportive" and avoiding placing "shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes."
Watch Cooney's video about the controversy below:
[H/T Yahoo Beauty]