Why Instagram phenomenon Essena chucked it all in

Instagram is full of beauties. And we enjoy looking at them. But behind these beautifully filtered snapshots often lurks a far less lovely reality. A few months ago, it all became too much for Instagram phenomenon, Essena O’Neill.

At the time, the 19-year-old Australian blonde had almost a million followers on her account. Every Instagram post generated thousands of likes: the ultimate boost for your self-confidence, wouldn’t you think? Not necessarily. In an emotional letter, Essena confessed that everything was totally fake. And that the popular teenager really wasn’t so beautiful and didn’t feel good about herself.

“Have you ever looked in the mirror and been socked by the apparition in front of you?
A person you don’t recognise, let alone respect? That’s what happened to me. And I’m grateful for it.”
(Essena O’Neill)

Essena gained headlines worldwide with a candid letter, which made it painfully clear how bitter social media fame can taste.

A look behind the scenes at Instagram

Before she gave up her Instagram account for good, O’Neill took the figurative filter away from all her photos. The o so #happy hashtags were replaced by far more honest captions. And that was just swallowing.


Now take this beach photo: not an instagram of fat to be seen anywhere. No, because it took (the then 15-year-old) Essena a good 100 shots and poses to get the perfect photo. And eating… that’s something she didn’t do that day. But Essena certainly did lots of swearing at the photographer, her little sister. All for a few digital likes.


There is life after Instagram

Today, with her website Let’s be gamechangers Essena focuses on the more sensible things in life. Such as inspiring clips about inner beauty. Or veganism. Anything that’s not empty and fake. But Essena also wants to use her site to protect other young girls from the pitfalls of virtual admiration.

“If you allow your happiness to depend on outward beauty,

then you’re stifling your own potential.”

(Essena O’Neill)

Essena is also now processing her experiences into a book: “How to be social media famous”. A satire perhaps. What then? A sci-fi novel. Essena has been dreaming of that since she was 12.

We will certainly be hearing more from this retired selfie queen, that much is clear!

Boost your selfie-confidence

Had one of those days? Not happy with what you see in the mirror – or the smartphone on your camera? Then print this picture and in particular remember the reality-check that goes with it!


“I had acne here, what you’re seeing is lots of layers of make-up.
I only smiled because I thought that I looked good.”

(sources: Time.com and Essenaoneill.com)


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