Essena O’Neill has broken ties with social media in hopes of finding herself again.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the world of selfies and vlogging and O’Neill has made a pact with herself to quit Instagram, Youtube and Tumblr. This might feel drastic even for the regular, every day person…but O’Neill is a model and a social media icon.
She started on Instagram in 2013 and has since gained over 750,000 followers. She also has over 270,000 subscribers on Youtube. Leaving her accounts was an unexpected move for someone who is known for posting stylish and sexy photos and promoting different companies and brands within those photos.
Most people would look at the 18-year-old’s life and think that she was living the dream. A modeling agency in Australia signed her and many companies and brands were knocking at her door asking her to promote their products!
Within the last month, she has freed herself from her social anchor. She left her Instagram account, but before abandoning it, she deleted thousands of photos, renamed the account (to Social Media Is Not Real Life) and made sure to edit the captions on many remaining photos revealing the truth behind the glitz and glam. She said:
“(This month is) the first time I’ve really just lived for the moment, not to prove it online.”
She wanted the world to know that even though her world looked beautiful from the outside, beneath it all…she wasn’t happy.
“I had the dream life. I had half a million people interested in me on [Instagram]. I was surrounded by all this wealth and all this fame and all this power and yet they were all miserable, and I had never been more miserable. I’m the girl who had it all and I want to tell you that having it all on social media means nothing to your real life … Everything I did was for likes and for followers. I did shoots for hours just to get photos for Instagram.”
The captions she added to the remaining photos revealed the dark truth. In one photo Essena was posing in a gown. The caption read:
“Was paid $400 to post a dress. That’s when I had maybe 150k followers, with half a million followers, I know of many online brands (with big budgets) that pay up to $2000 per post. Nothing is wrong with accepting brand deals. I just think it should be known. This photo had no substance, it was not of ethical manufacturing (I was uneducated at the time). SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL is my point. Be aware what people promote, ask yourself, what’s their intention behind the photo?”
The captions got even darker from there. On a photo of Essena at the beach in a bikini she admitted to taking over 100 photos while “trying to make (her) stomach look good” and that it was likely that she “would have hardly eaten that day.” Another photo she had posted of herself in a white dress she changed the caption to:
“NOT REAL LIFE – I didn’t pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone.”
After all the changes, she wanted to explain herself further. She uploaded one last video to Youtube and went on to delete her Tumblr and Snapchat accounts. She also started a website called Let’s Be Game Changers, which will focus on causes she is really passionate about – like veganism. To visit the website (which has a page dedicated to the edited captions) go to:
Essena found a way out of her “addict(ion) to social media, social approval, social status and (her) physical appearance.” While I can’t imagine that her thousands of fans will be jumping on board and doing the same any time soon, they are applauding her bravery.
iKaryn “Essena O’Neill – Why I REALLY am quitting social media – (Original Video)” YouTube. 03 November 2015. Web. 08 November 2015.