Calls to Ban YouTube Vlogger for Being ‘Too Thin’ Betray a Double Standard

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 3:16 pm, November 1, 2016
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Popular YouTube personality Eugenia Cooney has come under fire for her appearance. Multiple petitions aimed at YouTube have called for the 22-year-old, who has amassed a following of more than 900,000 subscribers, to be banned from the service for being too thin. The calls for her to take down her channel have been a constant for weeks, and the recent petitions have been an escalation of the bullying.

Her detractors claim that her waiflike appearance makes her a bad influence to her teenage followers. In Cooney’s defense, she doesn’t promote an anorexic lifestyle or brag about how thin she is.

The vlogger defended herself in a video last week when she told her fans that she had never tried to influence anyone to do harm to themselves, or encourage anyone else to look like her.

She said: “’Some people are saying I’m like a bad influence on girls. I just want you guys to know like I have seriously never have tried to be a bad influence on YouTube or to influence anyone badly. I would never want to do that.”

“’I have never told anyone to try to like lose weight or to try to like change the way they look or to look like me,” Cooney added.

More than 20,000 people have signed the multiple petitions that went up asking that YouTube remove her from their platform. The petitions claim to have only her best interests in mind, but removing her primary outlet of expression would certainly do more harm than good.

Several of these petitions have already been removed from for bullying, and only archives remain — but they continue to crop up by the day.

One of the petitions reads: “She may not be intentionally influencing her viewers, but showing more than 50% of her body in her videos and pictures are not helping girls with Anorexia or any eating disorder.”

“Her audience on YouTube & YouNow ranges from 12-21 years of age,” it continues. “Being her age audience is in these guidelines, 13-19 years of age is the common peaking age of developing an eating disorder. She has been doing nothing to get help. A lot of her audience are young females and some have already battled Anorexia and other eating disorders, Eugenia is setting a bad example for her fellow followers, fans, and friends.”


YouTubers Steven “Boogie2988” Williams and Phillip deFranco spoke out against the petitions and condemnation of Cooney. On Twitter, Williams wrote that if people are calling for vloggers with eating disorders to be banned, then they should be coming after him.

Williams is right, in that these widespread calls to shut down Cooney’s channel betray a terrible double standard when it comes to body image and health on the Internet. After all, there’s no petitions calling for the dozens of HAES (Health at Every Size) and fat acceptance channels to be shut down, despite their active promotion of unhealthy lifestyles.

If Eugenia Cooney has an eating disorder, shutting down her channel isn’t going to help her. The only thing that these petitions accomplished was to make it more difficult for anyone with an eating disorder to open up about their issues.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken game critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.