Eugenia Cooney and Nikocado Avocado are famous YouTubers. Cooney rose to internet fame in the early days of YouTube with her fashion and makeup videos, and Nicholas Perry – under his internet alias Nikocado – became popular for videos in which he played the violin and ate vegan food. Now, both these stars are more known for their extreme diets (which exist on completely opposite ends of the spectrum). Jia Tolentino in Trick Mirror, writes that “Through the emergence of blogging, personal lives were becoming public domain, and social incentives–to be liked, to be seen–were becoming economic ones” (6). Here is everything we know about the tragic, and very public, physical decline of both Eugenia Cooney and Nikocado Avocado.
Eugenia Cooney is a young woman, twenty-seven, and deteriorating to the voyeuristic pleasure of an audience of over two million people. She is five-foot-seven, eighty-eight pounds, has a one-hundred-and-seventy-centimeters waist and her measurements are twenty-five, twenty, twenty-four. Her skin clings to her bones. Her cheeks are sunken. Her kneecaps, acromion and clavicle protrude sharply like thorns.
Nicholas Perry, twenty-nine, under the alias Nikocado Avocado, transformed himself – in front of an audience of 2.5 million subscribers – from a one-hundred-and-fifty-pound vegan into something else; something three hundred and fifty-five pounds, bed-bound, and strapped to a sleep apnea machine.
Just before she was hospitalized on January 28th, 2019, Cooney posted a video called “Kingdom Hearts Kairi Cosplay Transformation and Makeup Tutorial.” Her legs are darker pink than her pink bedroom walls, as if her heart is no longer able to circulate her blood. She has no muscles left, just skin holding her bones together.
Perry’s transformation can all be accredited to his participation in a trend called Mukbang – a live-stream featuring a person eating an obscene amount of food and addressing the audience. Perry regularly eats over ten thousand calories in one sitting to make his YouTube content. Lots of people like watching videos of another person eating, while they themselves are eating, so that they feel less alone.
Following her fifty-one-fifty seventy-two-hour-psychiatric hold on July 19th 2019, came Shane Dawson’s documentary, “The Return of Eugenia Cooney.” In the doc, Cooney spoke about her eating disorder as if she had already recovered. Some wonder if being thrust immediately back into the spotlight following rehab was a factor which led to her later relapse.
Perry and his husband Orline Home post porographic content of themselves on the platform Onlyfans. The hypothalamus monitors emotion, stress and reward systems within the brain. Sex, drinking, and eating are all pleasurable activities.
There is a petition on Change.org to remove Cooney from her YouTube platform which calls her a bad influence to her followers for promoting disordered eating with her appearance. She posts body-checking videos under the guise of outfit hauls and makeup tutorials, making sure she can see herself in the viewfinder showing her underwear, amid rumors that she is catering to anorexia fetishists. Watchers also publicly pay Cooney large sums of money during her Twitch streams where she can spend up to eight hours on camera without eating or drinking. The comments section of her YouTube videos are always full of people who have come to express their concern, their disapproval, their feelings of shock, and people who are just checking to see if she is still alive.
The ethical perimeters of whether Cooney and Perry should be allowed to post their content online (where it is being consumed by impressionable audiences) is not entirely clear. This extreme content may or may not be harmful to viewers, but it is without a doubt harmful to Cooney and Perry themselves. Jia Tolentino in Trick Mirror also writes, “Everyone likes to have an audience. Everyone thinks they deserve one,” (44).
Jacqui Donaldson is an American writer and teacher. Her work has been published in The Vehicle, Loud Coffee Press, Across the Margin and others. Connect with Jacqui on Instagram and Twitter @Jacquiverse.