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How A Girl Named Amberlynn Reid Shows The Harsh Side Of Internet Culture

At the beginning of 2019 I was going through an extremely tough first trimester of pregnancy. I was throwing up multiple times a day, nauseous 24/7 and the only thing I ate for 4 months was white rice and fruit popsicles.

I had once heard about something called a “mukbang.” A mukbang is a video or live webcast in which someone consumes large amounts of food for an audience in front of a camera; they became popular in South Korea around 2010 before going mainstream later on.

Unfortunately mukbangs have contributed to the obesity epidemic, and show how unhealthy our relationship can be with food. Many people at an extremely unhealthy weight eat massive amounts of junk food in front of the camera, and many of the owners of these popular channels make a majority of their income from this.

Kim-Hae Jin, a Ph.D. candidate from Chosun University argued in “A Study Of Food Porn As a Sub-Culture-Centering On Internet Meokbang,” that people can vicariously satisfy their desire for food through watching a mukbang.

And, this is what I found myself doing after getting re-acquainted with my toilet bowl for the fourth time one day. I came across a girl named Amberlynn Reid who was eating a Subway sandwich in a video titled, “Subway Mukbang – It Gets Messy.”

What struck me as odd was that she started the video by choosing her sandwich online, and counting the calories because she was documenting her weight loss journey. “Well, good for her,” I thought to myself. I went back to the very first video she posted 5 years ago, and was stunned by the fact that she was hundreds of pounds lighter, meaning she had actually gained a huge amount of weight during this time.

And so, I found myself spiraling into the tornado of not only Amberlynn Reid’s Youtube channel, but apparently an entire community of people who, over the years, became fascinated with her while simultaneously hating her. I googled her name and found an entire Reddit thread discussing her, a change.org petition to get her channel demonetized, and entire Youtube accounts dedicated to “reacting” to her videos. People like Zachary Michael, MichaelBePetty, and Charlie Gold do simple reactions to Amberlynn Reid videos, while channels like Katie W make edits of her videos to make fun of her.

Her life has been online for so long now, that watchers of her channel have seen her with three different girlfriends in three different states, referring to each one as an “era.” There was the “Krystal-era,” when she first started her vlogs, the “Destiny-era,” and the current “Becky-era.”

Unfortunately, in the five years since Amberlynn Reid started her channel, her weight has gone up to over 570 pounds and she struggles to walk more than 3 minutes at a time. Her failures have become fodder for hundreds of comments and conversations online, and at some points in her videos it seems as if she does things on purpose to garner more negative attention, thereby increasing her income.

Amberlynn Reid has become such a phenomenon that it’s hard to look away, and why is that? Is it simply the age-old idea of not being able to look away from a car crash? Watching someone slowly kill themselves by engaging in unhealthy eating habits on camera? Other similar channels include, Hungry Fatchick and Foodie Beauty.

Reading through comments on Amberlynn Reid’s channel or Reddit thread will reveal not only an unsavory side of humanity but a curious one as well. Throughout all of this, I felt a huge sense of sadness for this girl who has become somewhat of a target. Hundreds of thousands of people converse and debate about her as if she has her own reality show.

But, my question in reading everything about her and watching all the videos is this. Why?

I have a few theories:

1. Schadenfreude: The pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune

Basically, when someone fails, it makes us feel better about ourselves, if you’re already insecure, even if the person failing is a friend.

2. Voyeurism: the practice of taking pleasure in observing something private, sordid, or scandalous

For the same reasons we watch reality t.v., we have the desire to see the private life of other people.

Dr. Jana Scrivani, licensed clinical psychologist, told Hello Giggles, “Every genre of television, but reality television in particular, gives us a false sense that we really know the people we see on the screen each week.”

3. It just plain makes you feel better about yourself

Scrolling through the comments section on Amberlynn Reid’s channel or the other various discussion groups about her, I saw multiple comments in which people claimed watching her made them feel better about their own lives. For some, it even motivated them to lose weight or accomplish another life goal.

In falling down another Youtube rabbit hole, I realized something about our internet culture that we often forget. It’s easy to look at people on a computer screen and feel like they aren’t real. But, there is a real person who could be suffering greatly behind the camera and those harsh comments are being read by them.

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35 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Shutup

    September 4, 2019 at 11:18 am

    People don’t like amberlynn because she’s a terrible person who trolls, lies constantly, abuses animals, manipulates everyone around her and pretends to be suicidal for views.

    Do more research on something before writing a shitty article defending an absolute knob.

    She’s not a victim of anything or anyone but herself.

  2. Avatar

    Shutup

    September 4, 2019 at 11:19 am

    People don’t like amberlynn because she’s a terrible person who trolls, lies constantly, abuses animals, manipulates everyone around her and pretends to be suicidal for views.

    Do more research on something before writing a shitty article defending an absolute knob.

    She’s not a victim of anything or anyone but herself.

    1. Sarah Veldman

      Sarah Veldman

      September 4, 2019 at 11:57 am

      I’ve been following her for a couple of years now and absolutely don’t disagree with the fact that she has many, many, many faults.

      What I wanted to express in the article was that there are a lot people who say very harsh things and it doesn’t show the best side of human beings. It gets to a point where it makes her critics as bad as she is, and the community surrounding the issue is becoming very toxic.

      Thank you for your comment, and I appreciate the input.

      1. Avatar

        Shutup

        September 4, 2019 at 1:40 pm

        The beginning of 2019 is a couple of years? Good to know..

        1. Sarah Veldman

          Sarah Veldman

          September 4, 2019 at 4:05 pm

          Oops, I meant to say a couple of months.

          But thanks again for your input.

          Have a nice day/evening 🙂

        2. Avatar

          Bubba

          February 26, 2020 at 6:47 am

          Shut the fuck up you nitpicking dumbass. I could pick apart your entire long winded ass comment and point out mistakes so “good to know” that you bitch. You’re the exact type of disgusting person she’s talking about

          1. Avatar

            Elektra

            April 27, 2020 at 5:27 pm

            Shut up for God’s sake.

      2. Avatar

        Amy

        April 20, 2020 at 11:41 am

        Sarah I totally agree with the points you have made there Thanks for letting me know a lot of things Human’s mind is the darkest place in the world It’s true that we take pleasure in the other’s misfortune , it makes them feel better as a person and it’s just that most people don’t want to admit it I believe those people’s malicious comments and trolls are the real culprit of Amberlynn’s constantly increasing weight She was gradually becoming a victim If people really wanted to help her out , she really wouldn’t be here up to this point

        1. Avatar

          Riyad Ali

          May 9, 2020 at 1:57 am

          I have been following Amber’s journy since 2014 to now. And you are most certainly mistaken.

  3. Avatar

    Rosie

    September 4, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Amber has done some awful things though. And most of the comments are anger and frustration at the lies she tells and the untrue facts she spouts as though there’s no doubt.

    This was a well written article I just hope to god amber doesn’t find it. I don’t comment on her videos and I really want her to turn it all around but she grasps on to anything that helps her feel like a victim as it’s an excuse not to try. I’ve been there, but not with food so I sort of understand and I don’t want that because she will continue to gain more weight.

    There are terrible things like the abuse of animals, the constant lying, falsely accusing an ex of rape, those things are pretty much unforgivable. But beyond that, I still watch her because as much I don’t like her because of her actions, I REALLY want her to succeed, like, really.

    There are some awful, nasty, offensive comments she receives, but I’ve read through them and MOST of them are just people calling out her lies, frustration at her repeating the same cycle and telling her what to do to lose weight.

    I don’t excuse the nasty comments, but, anyone who uploads to a platform like YouTube is aware you’re putting yourself out there and people get to comment on it. If you don’t like that, want that or can’t handle that, then just… Don’t do it? She has a choice in all of this too and has this whole time. The blame isn’t on the commenters. It’s amber’s doing and it’s only amber it really affects. I’m still hoping everyday she will wake up having had some sort of epiphany and we just get to watcher her get happier and healthier everyday.

    1. Sarah Veldman

      Sarah Veldman

      September 4, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      I actually totally agree with you Rosie, especially after her most recent video where she “quit” Youtube and came back just hours later. It showed a really high level of manipulation that was surprising even for her.

      I actually watched the entire Charlie Gold reaction live (when Amber was supposed to post her August 31 announcement) and Charlie made some really great points.

    2. Avatar

      Bubba

      February 26, 2020 at 6:50 am

      Yeah but they still shouldn’t be making those nasty ass comments about her body though. That’s no fucking excuse. Her having done terrible things is not a fucking excuse and her being a YouTuber doesn’t mean she wants to get called a fat ugly bitch all the time. Stop defending those disgusting body shaming freaks. That’s like me saying you deserved to be called a dumb ugly bitch just because you were bad at one point in your life. You sound stupid.

  4. Avatar

    Emma

    September 4, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Amber Reid is a malignant narcissist who has falsely accused others of rape. She manipulates and lies like you and I breathe air. Nobody dislikes her because she is fat–when she actually does try to lose weight, she’s lauded. People hate her because she is a loathsome person. Amber’s situation isn’t the dark side of the internet, it’s normal people reacting to a horrible person in the only way they can–the comments.

  5. Avatar

    Softie

    September 18, 2019 at 10:42 am

    excellent piece! I’d also like to mention #4

    4. Ironic motivation / Reverse inspiration

    AL’s videos are VERY popular among people suffering from; obesity, concurrent food addictions, and eating disorders (both overeating and restrictive Disorders)

    On one hand— people struggling with obesity, food addiction, b.e.d, emotional/compulsive overeating etc use her transformation for shock value. In the sense of being “scared straight” or utilizing as some type of invivo exposure therapy because AL’s downward spiral is their greatest fear. It seems watching her videos has made them confront their own excuses for their constant weight gain, made them confront the horrible traumas they’ve been through, and all together has caused them to seek out professional dietary help and psychological care to get their weight and lives under control. Like many trauma victims who suffer from obesity they have had failed attempts before but apparently watching AL has helped them stay on track.

    On the other hand, people with restrictive EDNOS/ufed and anorexia also like AL’s videos. 1 is for the reason of vicariously living through all the food she eats and the second is their fears of weight gain/fatness is triggered in a highly specific way by her transformation over the years. This gives them increased motivation to reject foods and thus they don’t have to deal with the feelings of “after eating anxiety” once they finish eating.

  6. Avatar

    Mona

    September 19, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    No one deserves to be bullied but I believe majority of her commenters are sincerely frustrated with the lies and excuses she makes. It doesn’t help that she has been gaining weight and rarely follows through with advice and help. As much as I want to see her succeed in her weight-loss journey, it is clear to me that she isn’t going to get better without serious intervention. At this point her viewers are literally paying her to self-harm until she dies from her failing health. It isn’t like no one sees her as a person. Her actions and her inconsistencies painted her a manipulative, compulsive liar. It is hard to be sympathetic to someone who ignore every chance to get help. We are mad because she isn’t improving. We are upset because she lies to make herself feel better. Most of us don’t want to sugar-coat it anymore. She is dying and we are one of the few trying to slap some reality. Enough of “woe is me” and start doing something about it.

  7. Avatar

    Ida

    October 4, 2019 at 3:40 am

    As “bad” as Amberlyn may be, I think it’s clear that her lies and excuses are hurting her way more than they are hurting us. She will be the one who dies from it in the end, and it’s really sad…I get why people are frustrated, and I’ve had my fair share of frustration with her… but I just can’t bring myself to hate her. I just feel bad for her.

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      October 6, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      I agree. I think in the end, she’s only making herself suffer.

  8. Avatar

    Spiderman Jones

    October 8, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    The Kiwi farms forum about her is great. Fuck her, she’s a terrible person and a literal lolcow. I mean, people have been speculating on the death of Barb-chan for years but I’d put money that this bitch dies well before Barb.
    Don’t make a defense of her in any way. Everything people say about her is the truth. I mean, it’s not like people are out here lying about what she does and don’t go eat 5k calorie meals on the internet and not expect people to watch with absolute disgust and contempt.

  9. Avatar

    NM

    November 4, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Amberlynn just posted a Torrid haul. She said she has lymphodema and can not reach under her stomach apron. The shirt she wore when she spoke of this is a 6xl. Thats an extra, extra, extra, extra, extra, extra large. She is also 5’3. Its gone from bad, to worse.

    1. Avatar

      Rafiki

      March 9, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      And that shirt was probbaly in reality a dress like she does with almost all dresses. She buys them in a smaller size and they barely cover her ass. I don’t know why she does this.

  10. Avatar

    Margaret J Scott

    November 14, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    I just saw amber lynn tonight and was not surprised by the comments. I think I watched it because yes, it’s morbid and sad and enthralling and puzzling. She needs help.

  11. Avatar

    ROBIN EMERY

    December 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Let’s get one thing straight- No one hates her because she is fat. They hate her because like many said before me, she lies, plays the victim, abuses people and animals, has severe mental issues, and will not listen to anyone regarding health and help. She has been given so many opportunities in the past to seek help and refuses it all. She spends her money on Walmart and Torrid hauls, rather than get herself some insurance and check herself into inpatient treatment, which she desperately needs. She is irresponsible with her money, that’s 100% true. She gets paid and it’s gone, all to crap that she never wears again. She is seriously SICK, even SHE’S not denying that, but she doesn’t get help, doesn’t want it, claims she can do this all by herself, but she cannot and she will DIE. This is all a joke to her. She gets money for eating and shopping, people who watch her are paying her to kill herself. She knows how the system works, she knows exactly what she’s doing, and that’s milking the system, sucking us in, and making us pay to keep her fat. She is forever using bait titles for her videos to keep the cycle going. And yet her subs keep going up, her views keep going up, and the people watching are the people claiming to hate her the most. They are just as sick as she is. Why are people STILL WATCHING HER??? STOP!

  12. Avatar

    Lara

    December 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I find her fascinating, my girlfriend says she thinks I watch her videos because she reminds me of my mom, in all honesty she just feels like a dark reflection of the absolute worst things a person can be.
    I feel like in cycling through feeling bad for her situation and then watching her do something awful and manipulative and going “nevermind” time and time again. I want her to get better, but I don’t feel too bad that she doesn’t. And I think it’s that disappointment that grips people. I think deep down we all want her to prove us wrong but we know she won’t.

  13. Avatar

    Sally

    January 4, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    So because she has faults and is not up to everyone’s standards that is the reason to bully her. Every comment I read is negative and critical intended to bring her down. People have channels dedicated to making fun of and criticizing every move she makes. And they make money out of these channels essentially making money from bullying her. It’s disgusting human behavior.

    1. Avatar

      Shannen Weeks

      February 5, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Her comments aren’t bullying. There are people who actually suffer at the hands of bullies, most of amberlynn ‘s reaction channels contain true, harsh criticism. And so what that her reaction channels make money off her. She makes money by exploiting herself, her health, her audience, and everyone in her life.
      Her comments aren’t bullying, they are commensurate to her behavior.
      She could also leave youtube, and simply focus on getting herself healthy. She chooses not to do that because she is unwilling to let go of the easy money of eating on camera.
      She chooses to subject herself to criticism.

  14. Avatar

    Mary

    January 5, 2020 at 5:03 am

    Please re-title : How a girl named Amberlynn cultivates the harsh side of the internet culture. Your title is miss leading to all who read it. Amberlynn has sowed the seeds of hate in her youtube channel by her actions and words alone. People started watching her to help and support her, but she has deceived her loyal supporters to a point that has turned bitter in her own community. People do not watch her for the 3 reasons you write about, and you should have dug deeper for the truth.

    1. Avatar

      Sarah

      May 15, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Or maybe all the nasty comments she gets are just some good old fashioned karma for all the terrible things she’s said and done to others. A lot of the terrible things she’s done are quite serious….the false rape/physical abuse allegation when in reality it was her doling out the physical abuse, the neglectful treatment of her animals, the numerous racist and transphobic statements she’s made over the years, the list just goes on and on and on. You can’t treat people the way she does and not expect it to come back around on you. She wants the hate because it means people are giving her the only thing other than food that she desperately craves and that’s attention. Good or bad, she couldn’t care less and long as people are focusing on her. Everytime that attention dies down, she constructs a new drama to bring it right back. I’m sure the money she receives from it is a huge incentive as well. So yeah, I have a really hard time mustering anything pity for someone like that. Some of the comments probably do take things too far and cross the line but she makes herself a very easy target…she’s just not a good person. Seeing terrible people fuck with each other just doesn’t bother me as much as it probably should.

  15. Avatar

    Barry

    January 30, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Looks like op needs to do some more research before writing a sloppy article about an internet lolcow

  16. Avatar

    anonymous

    February 3, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    Too bad amberlynn’s weight is the LEAST offensive thing about her. 😂 Imagine actually defending someone who is not only manipulative but also an animal abuser, a racist, transphobic, and lied about being raped – and is eating herself to death online, for views, so she can make money.

  17. Avatar

    Me

    February 7, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    I started watching Amberlynn after a 3 year period in which I was repeatedly forced into the hospital (due to anorexia), and I found it maddening that someone like her was able to eat on camera and face no consequences. As time went on, and I got mentally healthier, I realized how sad it was that nobody in her entire life ever cared about her. While she is a completely vile person now, I wonder how much that could have been averted if she had had at least ONE person who forced her to do something about her slow suicide (like my psychiatrist did).
    It is a shame we will never know. Apparently, eating yourself to death is applauded.

    1. Avatar

      jennifer leanio

      March 9, 2020 at 11:55 am

      She used to talk about how she lost 89 pounds, that was when she was living with Krystal and her parents. The parents forced her to exercise and locked the fridge so she had no way to overeat. So there was one time in her life when people wouldn’t allow her to just eat herself to death and do puzzles all day.

  18. Avatar

    B

    April 8, 2020 at 12:52 am

    Hey!
    I used to be an OG supporter now haydur from the “krystal era” 🤣

    I initially started to dislike her when I realized she has a superior complex… went all downhill from there. The reason why people hate her now is because she’s done some pretty vile things & never explained or apologized.

    The worst for me was accusing her ex of Rape, she names & shames her ex in a video ignoring gender pronouns, playing victim etc. Her ex later came out with a response video that seemed more detailed & evident than her alleged claim. She then went on to write a poem – quote ” R A P E, rain and petals eavesdrop, I used the wrong word”.

    Here is a list of reasons people dislike her:
    – accusing ex of rape
    – gofundme cancer scam
    – joking about suicide
    – racist
    – abuses her animals
    – using mental illness at her convenience
    The list goes on…

    Take from that what you will 🤷🏽‍♀️

    Have an excellent day, stay safe 😊

  19. Avatar

    Paige M Rivers

    April 13, 2020 at 8:21 am

    girl… don’t feel sorry for her. she treats her current girlfriend horribly, constantly compares her to her exes and is just not a good partner. she also knows that when she does her trolling videos and mukbangs, it brings her more views (money) than when she does anything related to weight loss. why? because she initiated this whole thing. she has a good addition which she acknowledges, and she noticed that when she filmed her binges and breakdowns, she got more attention and views. she KNOWS what she’s doing!! she uses people, like her current and ex girlfriends, for caretakers and a place to stay. you can see the tension and how awkward it is in her roommate eric’s vlogs. so. i believe all of us need to sign that petition, because at this point, anyone who watches her videos is just enabling her. she IS going to die. all this “oh she’s being bullied, body positivity” blah blah kumbaya bullshit is contributing to her demise. if you REALLY feel sorry for her, sign that petition and share it, delete this article, and never watch another video.

  20. Avatar

    Sera

    April 27, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    The article seems really under-researched. I haven’t been watching ALR for long, but a lot longer than the couple of months of research that was put in by the author, and it’s become incredibly clear that people don’t like her because of who she is as a person and it isn’t about her weight. She could be 125lbs and still be getting this backlash because of how she abusive and manipulative she is (both in her personal life with the people around her, as evidenced in several videos) and also to her viewers.

  21. Avatar

    Salvatore

    May 22, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    No one likes amberlynn reid because of her disgusting personality. She accused someone of raping her and even misjudged their gender. She said the N word. She scammed alot of people with the Gofundme.

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