Stephanie Hallett
October 28, 2016 1:00 pm
Eugenia Cooney / www.instagram.com

There’s a campaign taking off on Change.org, and it’s trending for all the wrong reasons.

The petition targets Eugenia Cooney, a 22-year-old vlogger with nearly 900,000 YouTube subscribers who makes videos about beauty, style, and her many other interests, and it’s demanding that YouTube temporarily ban Cooney because of her “serious underweight condition.”

Basically, the petitioner wants to shut her down because she thinks Cooney is too skinny.

According to Lynn Cloud, the petition’s creator, “Eugenia Cooney has a serious medical condition and needs to seek help.” Cloud insists that while her petition is “NOT to dismay [Cooney], insult her, nor belittle her” she thinks that the young YouTuber’s thin figure is “triggering her fan base” of 12 to 21-year-old girls and young women and that she should seek help.

Cooney has addressed the controversy repeatedly on all of her social media channels, apologizing to anyone who is “angry” at her or thinks she’s trying to “do anything wrong.”

She even posted this YouTube video apologizing and saying, “It really sucks a lot to feel like a lot of the internet hates you.”

In response to criticisms about her weight, Cooney says only that she’s “fine” and that she’s just naturally thin.

But here’s the thing: Regardless of whether or not Cooney is suffering from an eating disorder, stripping her of her voice is not a helpful or supportive thing to do. Like everyone, she has a right to tell her stories and share her talents — and she shouldn’t be punished IF she’s suffering from an illness (and the internet is not an authority to make claims she is — her doctor and her doctor only is allowed to conclude this).

Instead of trying to get her banned, perhaps concerned fans should encourage Cooney’s loved ones to follow the advice of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which says that if you believe someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, you should “express your concerns in a loving and supportive way.”

NEDA adds, “In a private and relaxed setting, talk to your friend in a calm and caring way about the specific things you have seen or felt that have caused you to worry.”

There’s a step-by-step guide on NEDA’s website for how to have this conversation — and it makes clear that friends should never place “shame, blame, or guilt” on someone you suspect has an eating disorder.

The bottom line is that attempting to silence someone because you’re “concerned for their well-being” will do little to help them feel safe enough to seek help. If Cooney is indeed battling an eating disorder, she needs love and respect — not internet vitriol.

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