UPDATE: The petition against vlogger Eugenia Coomey has been taken down. "We removed the petition regarding Eugenia Coomey because it violated our Community Guidelines on bullying," Change.org said in a letter to MORE.
Change.org calls out the Community Guideline in question: "Don't bully: You can be influential and respectful at the same time. When working to persuade decision makers and other users, focus on people's actions rather than their personal characteristsics. While we expect debate and disagreement, we don't tolerate abuse, stalking, threats, trolling, or any form of bullying."
YouTube stars are not strangers to the occasional internet haters. But lately, beauty blogger Eugenia Cooney is receiving more than her fair share of flack.
A petition on Change.org that had more than 18,000 supporters trying to "temporarily ban Eugenia Cooney off of YouTube," was removed from the site on Friday for violating the portion of the site's community guidelines that covers bullying, a Change.org representative told MORE. The section states, "Don't bully - You can be influential and respectful at the same time. When working to persuade decision makers and other users, focus on people's actions rather than their personal characteristics. While we expect debate and disagreement, we don't tolerate abuse, stalking, threats, trolling or any form of bullying."
Supporters of the ban originally expressed concern (often in less-than-compassionate terms) over Cooney's weight and the unintentional, yet negative influence they claim she is having over some of her younger followers, arguing that she's showing viewers that it is "okay...to suffer from a medical condition such as 'Anorexia-Nervosa.'"
To be completely clear, Cooney has never said she suffers from anorexia, nor has a doctor or others close to her.
Some petitioners seemed to have her best interest in mind, saying they wanted her to get out from the spotlight and seek medical help. But others were functioning as the worst kind of concern trolls, clearly making any body issues (if she has any) worse.
For her part, Cooney has told her viewers that she is "naturally small." She recently uploaded a video commenting on the situation as a whole, even commenting that if some viewers are influenced by her videos, to please not watch anymore, but "not because I don't love you."
"There's so many people in the comments super angry with me lately because of certain videos being made. I just want you guys to know that I'm never trying to hurt anyone or ever do anything wrong and I would never do that," Cooney says. "I don't ever encourage people to try to look like me or to look like anyone. I just try to tell people to be themselves and to be happy. I love you guys and I appreciate the people that support me so much you guys mean the world to me."
If Cooney––or anyone else, for that matter––is suffering from an eating disorder, Attn.com points out that the kind of language commenters used in their petition and on her YouTube videos is decidedly NOT helpful, and can instead "cause victims to experience feelings of shame, particularly if others think the person looks like they aren't healthy." Instead, they say, "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."
If you are concerned about a friend who may be battling an eating disorder, one should not use language that implies blame or shame on the person. Instead, experts recommend using these helpful tips:
- Use "I" statements
- Make the person feel comfortable and let them know it is safe to talk to you
- Encourage them to express how they feel (not just you!)
- Give them time to talk — don't rush them
- Listen without judgment or criticism
- Encourage them to seek help, and let them know that you're there for them
No matter what the situation, however, and whether or not Cooney actually is fighting an eating disorder, bullying is never, ever an acceptable option. We support her beauty blogging endeavors, and we love to see her continuing to pursue her passions. (Especially because Halloween is here, and she has some seriously awesome makeup tutorials.)