Let me start by saying this is just my personal opinion and point of view from my own, personal experience. I will not be posting images of Eugenia Cooney prior to her recovery, because I know they can be triggering. You can, however, watch Shane’s video here:
I remember watching Eugenia Cooney on YouTube probably a few years ago. I didn’t even bother to learn her name, because I had already made up my mind: I didn’t like her. And that’s the thing about the internet, you know? We are so quick to judge; we adore fake people that do nothing but play a role or a character they invented and we hate others, not knowing that they are fighting their own, real battles. I never left a hate comment, because that’s not me. But the appearance of Eugenia infuriated me. The fact that she dared to make videos on YouTube in her “condition” made me question her intentions.
You see, I had been dealing with an eating disorder myself. I never got to the point of looking extremely skinny or extremely overweight, and to some people I didn’t even look sick; that’s why I was able to get away with it for so long. I was lucky that, in a moment of lucidity, I asked for help and my mom came to my rescue. I never went to rehab; I recovered on my own, at home. But I’ve struggled with body image my entire life. I’ve never been able to tell the difference between a healthy body and a “good looking” body. I go from questioning every inch of my body, to hating it, to obsessing over girls on magazines and the way they look, to doing harmful things to my body just so that I can look like them. I know what a comment on your appearance can do to your mind for the rest of the day, the week or the month. Even to this day, words I was told about the way I looked when I was 9 years old echo in my mind from time to time. I also know what an image, a picture, or a video can trigger. That’s why I didn’t like Eugenia. I thought she was giving the wrong message to thousands of girls; I couldn’t imagine how many girls would look at her and think it was healthy. Or wish they could look like her. Or say the one thing I told myself: well, I’m not that sick, so I guess I’m ok.
Now, Shane Dawson has come to show us one more time, that we should never judge a book by its cover. First of all, I love how he prepared for the whole thing. In order to do this, he talked with his friend and fellow youtuber, Kati Morton. She holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She went on to explain to Shane what was the correct way to approach Eugenia; she also explained how it wasn’t a good idea to compliment her looks. It’s better to say, “you are a great person”, than “you look great”.
Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if compliments were about the way we are rather than the way we look?
Kati Morton’s channel was probably the first one I ever subscribed to, so I knew who she was long before I even started watching Shane’s videos. I always thought I’d end up being a psychologist because ever since I was a little girl I wanted to learn all about the human brain and why we behave the way we do, and Katie talked about those subjects. Later on, she helped me understand where my anxiety came from and how to “overcome” it, and in a way, she helped me understand why my relationship with food didn’t seem to be so healthy either (of course, I know she is not my personal therapist and there is no way she can diagnose me). She has built a beautiful, welcoming “mental health community” over the past seven years. If you are interested, I highly recommend you check out her YouTube channel here.
In Shane’s video, Eugenia appears to be so full of joy. If that is really the case, I am happy for her. She talks about her way to recovery and rehab, and how difficult it is. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for someone to receive so much hate over the years, and still keep a smile on her face. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to stand in front of millions of people and say “hey, I am sick. I need help”. So I applaud Eugenia Cooney. She is brave, she is spreading a message about a subject that many others haven’t had the courage to even talk about: mental health and eating disorders. I also applaud Shane Dawson, for using his platform to help bring these issues to light. He is opening up the conversation about eating disorders and recovery.
The only question that keeps coming back to my mind is: how did the people around Eugenia let the disorder get that far? I understand how, maybe, she was in denial. Maybe inside her mind, she wasn’t sick. But if her fans were asking her to get help, if half of the world was worried about her well being, how come her family didn’t? But, I guess that is something personal; they are the only ones that know how it all really happened.
I do hope that Eugenia can fully recover. I hope she can keep on spreading positive messages so that she can give some light and guidance to those that are still struggling. I thank her from the bottom of my heart (even though she doesn’t even know I exist) for speaking up and giving people hope. And to Shane for using his power on YouTube to bring awareness to this, and for using his huge platform for something good, and something that will probably help many around the world.
I want to end this post by saying that I’ve seen a lot of hate going around the internet; people saying that Shane and Eugenia are painting recovery as something easy and not painful at all. But I don’t see it that way. I think we have to remember that they are still people; Eugenia is fighting something that is not easy to defeat. I completely understand if she wants to keep the hard, raw moments for herself and chooses to show her smile to the world. Recovery is not an easy, happy road, but it is worth it.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please ask for help. Remember you’re not alone.