With over half a million Instagram followers, and 250,000 YouTube subscribers, Essena O’Neill has spent the past few years as a social media sensation.
Becoming an online celebrity, she was able to support herself entirely through sponsorship deals, and was paid even just to hashtag a company’s name on one of her many photos.
But, while many teenagers would see this as the dream, Essena has revealed how unhappy her fame made her. Announcing that she would be quitting all social media platforms, she posted:
“Without realising, I’ve spent [the] majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance. Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. It’s contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self absorbed judgement. I was consumed by it.”
Essena has edited the captions on her Instagram photos, revealing what really went into them. She explained how she dieted and exercised to an unhealthy level, just to get the perfect ‘hot body’ shot, and many of the outfits she is seen in, she never even wore outside.
“The only thing that made me feel good that day was this photo. How deeply depressing. Having a toned body is not all we as human beings are capable of.”
“…Stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs. I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention.”
Essena has started a blog – Let’s be Game Changers – where she aims to ‘make us more than our images’.