Essena O’Neil is a 19-year-old Australian Instagram star and she recently opened up to reveal the truth about her life and the shots that made her famous on social media.
She began her blog and YouTube account when she was in high school, and it wasn’t long before they completely consumed her life. She became a widely known online sensation, garnering over half a million followers on Instagram and over 250,000 YouTube subscribers.
“I fell in love with this idea that I could be of value to other people,” she wrote. “Let’s call this my snowballing addiction to be liked by others.”
Soon she was getting sponsorship opportunities and was able to support herself entirely through this work. She was also offered to model in L.A.
Many young girls looked up to O’Neil and were even obsessed with her. Little did they know that behind that pretty face was someone miserable and exhausted.
“Yeah 16-year-old Essena would have been like ‘WTF girl you have the dream life,’” she wrote. “So why did I feel so lost, lonely and miserable?”
O’Neil eventually decided she had had enough after realizing she wan’t living an authentic life. She then decided to make a drastic change in her life and announced to her followers that she was quitting social media, and has already begun editing all of the captions on her photos to tell the truth behind the pictures.
“I was addicted to what others thought of me, simply because it was so readily available,” she wrote. “I was severely addicted. I believed how many likes and followers I had correlated to how many people liked me. I didn’t even see it happening, but social media had become my sole identity. I didn’t even know what I was without it.”
Not only has she deleted her Tumblr account, but she plans to stop posting on YouTube as well. She has also deleted over 2,000 pictures from her Instagram account; she says they served no real purpose other than self-promotion.
She also went as far as to admit that her “hot body” shots were the results of unhealthy habits…
“A 15 year old girl that calorie restricts and excessively exercises is not goals. Anyone addicted to social media fame like I once was, is not in a conscious state,” she wrote on the above photo.
“…Stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs,” O’Neill wrote. “I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. Its contrived perfection made to get attention.”
“Without realizing, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance,” she wrote. “Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real.”
She also opened up about how she was making money from some of her posts and was completely honest about how there were no actual “candid” photos; they were all staged and photoshopped.
Essena O’Neil Is Being the Change
What this young woman is doing is absolutely incredible. Having the courage to open up and be honest about everything she was doing is an amazing feat in itself. She is now able to be an excellent role model for all of her younger fans and they will know the truth and the true cost of this “success.” Some of her more recent posts are geared toward exposing the lies behind what you see on social media.
O’Neil has also started up a new website called LetsBeGameChangers.com to tell her full story, and is challenging her fans to give up social media for one week. She hopes to encourage others to be present and live life, authentically.
Check out her final YouTube video below.
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