If you are someone who is sensitive to discussions of eating disorders or a fan of Eugenia Cooney, this one isn’t for you. Happy New Year, blah, blah, blah – 2021 is shaping up to be just as weird as 2020. Yay 😉 Anyway, a couple of nights ago I am rolling through YouTube trying to find something to watch, I don’t subscribe to a ton of channels & will find myself down the odd rabbit hole on occasion. My recommended videos are a variety of everything & nothing since I will watch anything excluding diet, weight loss, exercise channels, etc. because as someone who manages an eating disorder, this content can be tricky to ingest. Now & again, the YouTube algorithm will throw me the odd health channel probably because I watch a lot of lifestyle channels & it’s fine but I found myself absolutely disgusted when Eugenia’s most recent video popped up in my feed.
I don’t watch her, I did watch the Shane Dawson video, just never her specifically but she has been a name within the community for a long time. Unfortunately, her images are often used as inspiration or encouragement for people looking to fuel their disorders. It’s like – if she can be that skinny & not dead then I can too. She is stupid & blind to her disorder at best, dangerous & fully in control of what she is doing at worst. I personally believe that it’s the latter, she full well knows that her content is pro-ana, thinspo & fodder for perverts or the morbidly curious. By allowing her to have a monetized channel, YouTube is allowing her more accessibility to people of all ages & basically paying her to kill herself. What is even more twisted is that to my knowledge, she has never admitted that she has a problem which is incredibly misleading to her following, young people especially. Not only can she not admit that she has a problem, she probably never shares the graphic details of what her disorder is doing to her body. Instead, she presents herself as this cutesy, terminally delightful, childlike being who just wants to live her life. That’s fine, that’s complete bullshit but it’s fine – take it offline then & stop monetizing your mental illness.
Is she providing tips or commentary on how she maintains her outrageously low body weight? No, probably not but she is presenting this everything is fine façade that is dangerous. She is showcasing her illness, this glamorizes it & could encourage others to try & do the same. To me, it’s no different than watching your favorite beauty guru & wanting to become really good at makeup application so that you can be the next big guru. Since she won’t be honest about what’s actually going on, I can provide some insight into the physical toll that a long term eating disorder can take on a body – the shit they don’t tell you in school.
I was actively bulimic from 17 to 26 years old, I say actively because it’s something that I manage each day & choose not to engage in. I was never a binge & purge person, I would eat a regular meal & then expel it. I have occasional slip ups, going vegan has definitely been tricky because it puts a lot of emphasis on food & this can feel unhealthily obsessive but hasn’t caused any major issues. Eugenia is 26 now, when I finally started treatment at the same age, it was only after being fitted for a partial denture because many of my back teeth were falling out or so severely decayed that they had to be pulled. I didn’t care that I was freakishly thin, I liked the way that I looked, for some reason the denture thing really triggered me & finding out that my dentist was a recovering anorexic that encouraged me to take the next step. Thankfully now, I have been able to replace my teeth with individual dental implants on posts which was as an extremely painful (and expensive) procedure. Forcing yourself to throw up consistently also causes bizarre issues with the throat muscles & can lead to years of involuntary puking. I am 34 now, I cannot brush my teeth without throwing up or dry heaving. It’s embarrassing, not as embarrassing as some of the instances that occurred earlier in my recovery but it still sucks. Chronic acid reflux & bouts of IBS are other digestive issues that I experience on the regular. I have arthritis in my back, ribs & deteriorated bone density in one hip that could necessitate a hip replacement by age 40. The thing is, you can recover from an eating disorder but you’ll never be quite the same. It isn’t a game, it’s not just simply wanting to be thin & then being able to go back to a normal existence once you’ve attained your goal. There really isn’t a goal aside from wanting to be thinner & wanting others to notice that you are thinner. I’m not even considered an extreme case, long term but not extreme & this shit has plagued me for decades. It will always have an impact on my day to day life & seeing some little brat on the internet glamorizing a deadly lifestyle is infuriating.
There is no shame in admitting that you have an eating disorder even if you aren’t ready to deal with it. At the least, she could admit her issue & be honest that she doesn’t feel the need to seek treatment but be honest about it. Tell young viewers that it’s a shitty existence that makes you feel like shit all of the time. Tell them that your bones ache, that you can’t sleep, that it doesn’t truly make you happy. Tell them that it’s an existence that you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Let them know the risks; heart failure, organ failure, mood swings, chronic headaches, blindness, seizures, death – just to name a few. Eugenia Cooney is not living, she is dying. If she can’t admit this & censor her content then YouTube & other platforms need to step in & do it for her, I’m still so disgusted that I’m considering boycotting YouTube altogether. Parents can only do so much to protect their kids online & sometimes, thinspo content isn’t easily spotted, it can seem like a harmless inspirational quote if you aren’t wise to the community.
I don’t pity her, just like I don’t pity myself – eating disorders are mental health disorders but it’s something we can choose to deal with. I would encourage anyone struggling with an eating disorder to at least stop & really consider what’s going on, even if you aren’t ready to seek treatment – just stop & think for a moment. Consider a life that isn’t consumed by an eating disorder. It’s a much more beautiful existence. Sure, I am a bit fat now & feel about 80 years old sometimes but overall am much healthier & happier for seeking treatment. I hope that you are happy, healthy & just doing the best that you can ❤