Essena O’Neill: “Social Media Is Not Real Life”


A precious handful of celebrities have quit Instagram for a bevy of reasons; Australian fashion and beauty blogger Essena O’Neill is sending a message with her own departure from the image social site.

O’ Neill could have just chosen to delete the account and walk away from Instagram, but she went a few steps further. Aside from deleting majority of her pictures, she also edited the captions to the few images she left behind to reveal the truth: the images went through heavy editing and curation to cater to sell brands and their products. She decried the inauthenticity of it all under her battle cry : “social media is not real life.”


From her new website, Let’s Be Gamechangers, she encourages readers to not only join her causes, but to also help out by donating to the movement’s funds.

A number of people scoff at this change of heart and dismiss it as a mere publicity stunt. However, O’Neill has indeed achieved in making people more aware of social media influencers — how they not only advertise their products through the subtly sly way of showing them on perfect bodies living perfect lives, but also creating insecurity and a negative body image in young women.


Essena O’ Neill admits in a statement what many teenagers intrinsically understand about Instagram: It really, really takes a lot of work to look this effortlessly good. From taking 120 snaps to get that one photo she would gladly post, to hours of primping to get that “I woke up like this” look, to not eating for days to get her tummy as flat as possible, O’Neill spilled it all — and still, her followers were shocked.

Galit Breen, author of the book Kindness Wins, a guide on using kindness as a tool for kids for online behavior, sees this as a call for netizens to be more judgmental online, but to also turn their judgement faculties on their own behavior. She explains: “We need to teach our children not how to judge others more effectively, but how to turn their judgmental faculties on themselves, to think critically about their own behavior and what they are surrounding themselves with,” such as photoshopped images of unrealistic body standards, representations of “perfect lives”, and others.

“We are definitely not lacking in judgment as a nation. What we are lacking is the ability to have conversations and disagreements in a healthy way.”

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