A recently-circulated clip of an anorexic influencer is sparking renewed controversy on social media as some users question the impact she is having on her young viewers and herself.
Infamous YouTuber and TikTok star Eugenia Cooney is often seen in the limelight, but often for all the wrong reasons. Most recently, a July 21 upload to TikTok began circulating on X (formerly Twitter) and raised concerns about her mental and physical health amongst a new audience. The video, which has amassed nearly 20 million views since it was uploaded, shows Cooney wearing a hot pink crop top, bell-bottom pants, and a long blonde wig. Cooney uploaded the short video of her modeling the outlet to celebrate the release of the Barbie movie.
“Hi, I’m Barbie,” wrote Cooney in the video description. But it wasn’t her outfit that was drawing eyes, rather, her paper-thin physique and pallid skin. Cooney, who often posts fashion content on her 2.13 million subscriber-strong YouTube channel, is severely anorexic.
Many X commenters who watched the July 21 video were alarmed by her extremely underweight body, which features prominent bones and ligature jutting from her skin. Despite the mass of people expressing concern, many of Cooney’s fans on TikTok avoided stating the obvious regarding her condition.
“Wishing you good health hun hope you’re able to feel strong and healthy… your energy is beautiful,” one TikTok commenter replied. Another wrote: “Barbie in real life for real.”
“This is extremely concerning,” one user wrote in response to London’s upload. “She’s been like this for a long time, I’m surprised thus far she hasn’t received help for her problems,” with another writing: “She is literally knocking on death’s door. This is exceptionally sad.”
A user who identified as being in recovery for her anorexia expressed concern about Cooney’s influence on social media.
“As a lifelong anorexic that’s currently in recovery, I am horrified that this is being promoted on her social media,” the user wrote.
Cooney first gained notoriety as a live-streamer in 2011 when she used an early streaming platform called YouNow. But she became more popular when she moved to YouTube in 2013 after posting a video about twerking.
In many of her subsequent videos, Cooney’s mother can be seen filming her daughter, leading many to question why she didn’t seem to be intervening in her daughter’s increasingly fragile state. But others have pointed out that Cooney appears to be strangely naive about the world for her age.
During one video shot with her mother, Cooney, who is 29, walked past an EMS vehicle and asked what it was. In other videos, she has appeared bewildered about basic life skills such as understanding how to use an oven. She’s also been seen asking what some common products are in a grocery store.
In early 2023, Cooney’s mother joined her daughter for Make-A-Wish livestream in an effort to raise funds for the charity. During the stream, an anonymous user asked Cooney: “How is your mom okay with watching you wilt away?”
Bizarrely, Cooney’s mother responded by saying: “I know she eats. She takes good care of herself,” and proceeded to call her daughter a “skinny minnie,” as though her thinness were a natural disposition.
In another livestream, her mother continued to respond to more comments by saying: “I have known her [for] her whole life, I know her blood work and her doctor’s appointments and everything checks out good. I’m not concerned.”
But despite her mother having no concerns about her daughter’s health, some of Cooney’s viewers have previously attempted to stage their own interventions to help the young woman. In 2016, some fans begged the YouTube star to seek help for her dramatic health condition — one she initially denied she had.
A petition on Change.org was then launched by some viewers who called for Cooney to be banned from YouTube until she recovered, worried about her impact on the young women who made up a significant demographic in her audience.
“She may not be intentionally influencing her viewers, but showing more than 50% of her body in her videos and pictures [is] not helping girls with Anorexia or any eating disorder,” the petition read.
In 2019, Cooney entered recovery, and, after briefly disappearing from social media, re-emerged onto YouTube sporting a visibly healthier frame. At the time, she spoke to PAPER Magazine about the matter of her influencing others negatively, stating that she has never tried to cause any harm to her audience.
“I was never trying to cause any harm to anyone or asking them to lose weight,” Cooney told the outlet, as she pointed out that she never spoke about her weight. “But you still see people judging you and not realizing that you don’t have any bad intentions.”
She also added that when people are battling with an eating disorder or mental illness, it’s “not really something” that they choose to have.
“It would be great if the internet just tried to be positive to people,” Cooney said. “If they’re concerned, even if the person may not listen immediately, showing concern in a kinder way would be way better.”
Jaclyn Glenn, a fellow vlogger and ex-friend of Cooney’s, would later reveal that she had “staged an intervention” that resulted in a mental health professional issuing a 5150, an involuntary psychiatric hold.
In a video titled “The Return of Eugenia Cooney – The Real Truth (Full Story),” Glenn joins fellow YouTubers David Michael Frank and Evangeline DeMuro to speak about what happened before and during the intervention.
She alleged that Cooney’s mother has been manipulating her for years and has actively stood in the way of Cooney getting help for her eating disorder. That group of friends also claimed that during the intervention, Cooney’s mother called the police on Glenn in an attempt to get her arrested for kidnapping.
Unfortunately, the success of Cooney’s recovery appears to have been tragically short-lived, with the influencer quickly losing weight once home with her mother again.
Since then, Cooney has continued to shed the pounds and rack up the views.