Essena O’Neill was a social media star. The young Australian model had down to a science what most girls try to convey in their photos: the perfect body, life, clothing, hair, etc. You know those pictures that we spend hours trying to capture on the beach to show how perfect our vacation was? That was Essena’s entire life. Except just recently, she’s decided to take a stand against social media and how she was living. Her main reasoning is that she doesn’t agree with the way that social media is used today and feels that it is built on lies. She argues that social media just “isn’t real,” and that it kept her trapped and in a false world for many of her teenage years. Essena decided that it was time for change. She deleted all of her accounts with the exception of YouTube and Instagram, using them to explain the real story behind her pictures. Eventually, she got rid of those accounts as well. Now, she has started a new site called letsbegamechangers.com that show her old and re-edited captions and pictures, sharing her story and demonstrating her obsession with social media.
Her new website is not only to share her story, but to also make a call to action. Essena uploads three videos a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She shares her poems, blogs, and the real reasoning behind the images that she posted for all those years. When looking back, Essena explains that at 12 years old, she barely felt valued because of what she put herself through to be defined by numbers. She feels like she missed out on multiple years of her life because she was too busy living her life through a screen. I know personally, I used to be obsessed with social media. I would make sure I posted regularly, and had the perfect captions to all my Instagram photos. I would even watch my followers and the amount of likes each photo received. To me, it wasn’t just a popularity contest, but it almost stood as a form of acceptance from those around me. Years ago I learned that defining yourself by numbers and views and followers is not a valued or real life. You aren’t experiencing real love or care from anyone, let alone from yourself.
I do not think that O’Neill is saying that all social media is bad, rather she is calling attention to this era that causes women to fall into objectivity and the need to be known behind a screen. There is a need to confront and change the way media portrays a woman’s body – and she’s doing it! You don’t need to be obsessed with how you look to feel good or be happy. It’s actually quite the opposite. Not only is Essena explaining the damaging and dark side of social media, she is taking a stand against it. All we need is to feel valued and loved by those around us, and to feel alive with what we’re doing in life. So, while it is understood that we are almost born to seek out beauty, we need to be aware of where we go to find it. Make sure that you are looking inside yourself, and not living through a screen thriving for self-worth. If you need some guidance, look at Essena’s website. She has posted her motivation and how she has gone about recently changing her obsession with today’s social media. Even if you aren’t trying to make a transformation, O’Neill is fighting a good fight and support for her movement is always welcomed, so don’t be afraid to check it out. The beauty that you need is right inside you! Let it out, love yourself for who you are – and be you!