Essena O’Neill was a social media superstar. The Instagram model had hundreds of thousands of followers across her social media accounts and was paid top dollar to promote various brands. However, the teen says she was promoting a “contrived” sense of beauty and that her life was consumed by social media. Therefore, the teen Instagram sensation told followers that she would be deleting her accounts in order to live a more authentic life.
However, O’Neill decided to keep her Instagram account but with one big change. She would no longer be taking sponsorships for clothing and makeup brands or posting “contrived” images. Instead, she changed all of the captions on her old photos to detail the “truth” behind each photo, such as how much she was paid to promote an item, how long it took to get the perfect shot, and how much makeup she was wearing. While Essena is now posting more “authentic” photos to her account, she has learned that authenticity comes at a price. The social media sensation is now begging fans to donate money for her rent and other necessities as she can no longer pay her bills due to her shunning of sponsors.
“I needed to hear this when I was younger, heck anyone who spends hours and hours on a screen wishing they could have a ‘perfect’ life, this is for you. There is nothing cool about spending all your time taking edited pictures of yourself to prove to the world ‘you are enough’.”
O’Neill explains to her fans that while promoting her false image to the public, she was wasting her life away on social media and spending all of her time trying to get that perfect photo. She says her “candid” images were anything but candid and typically took hundreds of takes to get the perfect shot. Now, O’Neill wants to step away from that false reality by living life in the real world.
“Just to think of the time I lost, the life I lost. I don’t want that for anyone else.”
However, life in the real world costs money, and Essena seems to have forgotten that when she moved from a life of paid sponsorships to promoting self-esteem in teens. Now, instead of turning to sponsors to pay her bills, the Instagram model is hoping fans will pay for her new “normal” life.
“I can’t afford rent right now. It’s like I am embarrassed to admit that I need help… if this [website] is of value to you then please support me because I can’t afford my own real life.”
Though she claims to be “embarrassed” to ask for money, some feel that her “leaving” social media was simply a ploy to garner attention for her new website. In fact, some are calling the whole thing a “marketing stunt” and say that O’Neill is simply moving from one money-making online category to another.
[Image via Instagram / Essena O’Neill ]