Written By: Anton Sawyer
Warning: This article speaks openly and frankly about potentially offensive topics like eating disorders, sexuality, and predatory behaviors. If these topics bother you, then you may wish to look elsewhere.
It never ceases to amaze me how some online influencers can have their careers ruined by one tweet or by an off-comment somewhere, while others could, pretty much, set someone on fire and not be given a second glance.
It’s this second group that eating disorder icon Eugenia Cooney resides. For full transparency, on a personal level, I find her to be kind of deplorable. It’s one thing to openly sell sexual content via OnlyFans or any other adult-based web service that’s available—à la Trisha Paytas—but it’s another to flirt around with those elements in places where children have access, such as YouTube and Twitch. It makes it even worse when you think that not only do these youth have access to what she’s doing, but they also comprise a majority of her audience.
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In order for me to give the full picture when it comes to the potential damage she’s doing to her fans, we have to look at some basics of how the human mind works. When it comes to receiving new data and then processing that data into something actionable by someone, it has to go through a two-step process. This process starts with an emotional response, which takes place in the amygdala. The information then travels to the pre-frontal cortex, where the logic center takes the details and reasons it out. This is where our fight or flight response comes from. Because our caveman ancestors had to outrun a whole lot of bigger, hungrier creatures, their emotional core became finely tuned first. After a few centuries of societies and science, the pre-frontal began to surpass the amygdala in developmental terms.
Over the last few decades, an increase in the study of the brain and emotional responses has shown some alarming trends; one that Cooney is more than happy to utilize as needed. The most impactful of this research fully illustrated how much more quickly the amygdala develops in the teenage brain. Not only do they have hormones flying all over the place, but they’re physiologically pre-determined to use the emotional core of their reasoning. This knowledge has drastically impacted the juvenile justice system in America.
In five decisions – Roper v. Simmons (2005), Graham v. Florida (2010), Miller v. Alabama (2012), Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), and Jones v. Mississippi (2021) –the Supreme Court of the United States established and upheld the fact that “children are constitutionally different from adults in their levels of culpability” when it comes to sentencing. Differences in maturity and accountability inform the protections of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment that limits sentencing a child to die in prison. The facts brought about in these cases were pretty air-tight with the research on adolescent brain development confirming the common-sense understanding that children are different from adults in ways that are critical to identifying age-appropriate criminal sentences. This understanding is what Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy called something “any parent knows.” Because of this ruling, there have been hundreds of juvenile cases being re-heard for sentencing in courts across the US. Some of these have even lead to some convicts getting reduced sentences, and in a few cases outright freedom. Knowing these facts, when you look closely at Cooney, her response, and the responses of her fans, it is chilling.
Over the last decade or so, the concept of grooming has been dissected by many media outlets and news sources, shining a huge spotlight on this scourge. The thought is that if you are shown what is happening, that you are educated and can spot what’s going on, then you can be better prepared to resist it. While Cooney’s methods could be perceived as subtle, in reality, they are incredibly effective in laying the groundwork.
If you hadn’t heard Cooney's infamous underwear controversy, buckle up.
Eugenia spends hours upon hours live streaming on Twitch and creating YouTube videos, along with other content. In a prior article (click here to read: Eugenia Cooney Is Peddling Anorexic Fetishism), I used examples to show how during these streams, Cooney would do tasks and activities that were associated with more abusive sections of the eating disorder fetish community. For example, in many streams, she would spot a very heavy makeup kit on one side of her room, and then “remember” she had to move it and spent a great deal of time and effort in moving it. For those who fetishize eating disorders, one thing that’s prevalent in the community is watching women who are incredibly weak and frail doing tasks; much like what Cooney had been doing. This consistent theme of struggling to move her makeup kit is almost always accompanied by an uptick of donations made to her. She has denied this over and over again, oftentimes going on the offensive to attack anyone who would think such a thing. Most often using her signature catchphrase of, "I'm sorry you feel that way". Given that many of Cooney’s fans are pre-teen or teenage girls, you could see where this is going. During a video titled "MY SHOE COLLECTION 2021" published on her YouTube channel in May 2021, there were a few instances where she flashed her underwear on camera. It was clearly visible in a few different shots. Keep in mind this was a recorded video that could have been edited in some way, but she chose not to. As much as we could argue whether or not she was paid by someone to do this, this argument takes away from where the focus should be: young girls emotionally charged because someone they care for is being attacked for something that really “isn’t a big deal”—exact quote from one of her followers.
If the laws had to be changed when it came to light that teens' amygdalae develop much faster than the pre-frontal cortex, we know that by keeping emotions (controversy) at an all-time high with her antics, it's going to dramatically shift where the attention goes and places it firmly in the realm of emotional argument. By re-focusing the fact that she's teaching young girls that not only do they get more attention when they fetishize anorexia by flashing their underwear during a live stream, to making it about grave concerns when it comes to her eating disorder—it provides the perfect amount of spillage to completely muddy the waters and conflate emotions. Imagine a teen or pre-teen. Their hormones and amygdala have almost complete control of their decision-making. They admire Cooney, and worry about her because of her health. This teen and others send messages of support. Maybe even financial support in donations. Then, someone like me comes along and makes a big deal out of something that isn't a big deal (she flashed her underwear, unintentionally, and now we're freaking out wanting to cancel her because we are haters over her weight). This will lead the young girl to be emotionally misdirected and side with Cooney, unable to see the larger picture. Of course, Cooney is helping this by deflecting like a true master. One of the fans that had seen Cooney’s first response to the controversy asked, “When you wore the underwear Moschino shirt after people were upset by your [underwear flashing] video, it felt like you were mocking us.” When Cooney responded, it was well within the realm of her playbook, including such gems as “I’m sorry guys if some people want to get offended by that,” and “I feel like a lot of people have made, in my personal opinion, exaggerated, and made [it] a much bigger deal of than it had to be.” Another part of that same Q & A stream caught me as … odd. When she was asked about bathing suits and the flashing controversy by another streamer, she said “underwear hauls, this stuff exists on the internet and on YouTube without age restrictions essentially; just to tell you guys.” It’s good to know that she just happened to have that piece of information somewhere in her memory banks for some reason.
With recent medical studies by Stanford Medical showing that there is a biological shift happening in mankind where our brain signals in the amygdala are being pumped on steroids because of the internet, these young people and their emotional drive are going to be more difficult to help than ever before. The only way they stand a chance is by educating ALL young people on what’s being done. How emotional manipulation works and how to see it a mile away. My greatest concern is that some teenager will get emotionally wrapped up in all of this, become friends with someone online (possibly older) that agrees with the teen and thinks that this kind of censorship is stupid; and to show how stupid it is, they recommend something like “we should flash our underwear at each other. It’s no biggie.” There isn’t any innocence any longer. That died out with the last century once the internet took over and, unfortunately, grew everyone up too quickly. This doesn’t mean that we should just roll over and die, it just means we have to dedicate our focus on misdirection, its sources, and how best to fight them. And sharing this article is step one …
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