Venus Palermo: Living Doll Becomes YouTube Star, Controversy Magnet

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Move over, Human Barbie. Here comes the Living Doll.

At 15, Venus Palermo has grown into her doll obsession ... sort of literally. Under the username Venus Angelic, the London teen posts beauty tutorials on YouTube.

According to Venus, you too could be a ball-jointed doll (or BJD). Her doll-like appearance has turned her into an Internet star, and a magnet for controversy.

Based on her 5 million viewers and a legion of Facebook fans, people take her advice on pupil contacts, plastic-sheen-effect powder, and white eye shadow to heart.

But at what cost?

The modern BJD is widely popular in Japan, which Venus is obsessed with. "Mommy cooks Japanese, thinks Japanese, goes to Japan with me," writes Palermo on her blog. "

"Because we like it. Liking something, is soooooo GREAT!"

Palermo's obsession has attracted many a critic. Her videos have been called "bizarre" and "disturbing" in the media; her uncanny appearance is raising red flags.

Perverse comments on the 15-year-old's videos is proof she's attracting unsavory fans. So is the occasional grown man trolling her Facebook page.

But the teen's mom doesn't appear to be intervening in her daughter's risky hobby. Mom serves as host of Q&A chats between teenager and fans.

In one video posted last year, she sat by while the teenager chatted with a 24-year-old male who professed his love and then proceeded to belittle her.

In text under that video, posted to VenusAngelic's channel, Palermo refers to her fans as "lovers." The title of the video is "Insane Guy in Love."

"The case of Venus Angelic is uncomfortably exploitative, as there is clearly a sexual undertone to what she is doing," says Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD.

"In general, young girls on YouTube is a disturbing, growing trend," she says noting the recent trend of pre-teen girls asking viewers if they're pretty.

In many cases, parents are unaware of their child's webcam usage, until their uploads go viral. But in other instances, the parents are facilitators.

Levey Friedman wonders about Palermo's mom's aspirations for her, noting that Justin Bieber's mom helped get his career get off the ground.

The YouTube stage parent is relatively new concept. Most kids rise to viral fame for just being kids, and if a parent profits off of that they're criticized.

The rare performing prodigy, like Bieber, is an exception.

Palermo doesn't fall into either category. She may be bringing a Japanese trend to Western teens, but she's also attracting a largely unwanted fan-base.

What do you think? Harmless fun? Or too much, too soon?

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