"I am officially retiring as a boobie streamer, or a titty streamer, if you will," said Raihnbowkidz, a woman who broadcasts League of Legends on Twitch. You might not know her; she has four million total views on Twitch and 11.2k subscribers on YouTube, which are comparatively low numbers these days. Last week, she uploaded an announcement video in which she explained why, after years of doing Twitch streams that prominently highlighted her breasts, she was going to give up her old schtick:
"To be honest, I'm just no longer happy with what I do," she said. "I don't have the energy to do it. I got to the point where I could no longer watch myself. And I feel like once you get to that point, where you can't even watch your own material, or you don't want to think about your own material, you're no longer in a good place."
Raihnbowkidz said that her "boobie streams" were causing her to focus on the wrong things, rather than the game itself. She worried that, by doing breast-centric streams, she was contributing negatively to the League of Legends community.
"My stream has just reached this point of, it's not even a League stream, you know? My most successful days, I feel like I didn't stream anything productive."
Most of all, Raihnbowkidz said that being a "boobie streamer" was causing too much of a strain, both physically and emotionally.
"I would play ranked games on stream and I would lose every single one because I was just so focused on the fact that my fucking straps on my stupid push up bra were digging into my shoulders," she said. "And I would look over at chat, and like every second comment is calling me a slut and a whore. It's just not fun for me anymore."
Raihnbowkidz uploaded a follow-up video as well, in which she gave a behind-the-scenes look at all the work involved in setting her old stream up. In it, she breaks down the makeup she uses to prep her looks and gives a sped-up view of of the typical 30-40 minutes of application it required. She also takes the time to talk about her uncomfortable push-up bras, and why they made her "[want] to fucking die".
"I'm not saying that it's wrong to do this," Raihnbowkidz said, clarifying that she doesn't want to condemn women who show cleavage while streaming. "If you are a female and you feel sexy doing this, all the fucking power to you, man. All the fucking power to you. I just wanted to explain to everybody why I personally am sick and tired of doing this, not comfortable doing this, nor do I feel like its right for me to do this."
Over the years, there have been a number of minor controversies surrounding women on Twitch. Often, you'll hear people accuse women on Twitch of being "camwhores". Their thinking tends to be along the lines that women are taking over Twitch and tricking swaths of men into donating money, where 'real' streams would focus more on gameplay. That fear doesn't have much basis in reality: back in 2015, only a handful of women cracked the top 100 streams on Twitch, and none of them relied entirely or even mostly on mammary glands to get there. Style and substance do matter on Twitch, at least when it comes to the big leagues.
Smaller streams like Raihnbowkidz's have it tough, and it can be difficult for an entertainer to find things that will set them apart. Thousands of people try to make it every day on Twitch, with many of them counting themselves lucky if they even get a handful of viewers, never mind money or sponsorships or internet fame.
It sounds like Raihnbowkidz wound up doing something she really wasn't happy doing anymore, and now she's course correcting. Raihnbowkidz's story is most interesting to me because it pulls back the curtain on the work and sacrifice that goes into making yourself look good. People in our society scrutinise the hell out of women, constantly expecting them to look hot and fuckable while also insisting that they never betray the amount of work involved in looking "natural". Every woman grapples with managing her makeup and appearance in one way or another. Those challenges are doubtless hugely magnified by streaming on Twitch, which is basically the same as signing up to be a TV broadcaster.
Navigating all of that -- the shittier aspects of Twitch culture, suffocating societal expectations and the stress of pursuing fame -- would be enough to make anyone's head spin. There's no one answer or best path for women who stream games, but I'm glad Raihnbowkidz seems to have figured out what will make her happiest.