Response: Is Essena O'Neill Authentic or Fake?

Response: Is Essena O'Neill Authentic or Fake?

Former Instagram model quits social media to spread awareness, but media backlash claims it's a publicity stunt.

Internet Australian model Essena O'Neill hit the ground, or rather the worldwide web, running on Monday when she revealed her personal hatred towards social media and why she was quitting. The 19-year old posted her her final YouTube video explaining that her reason for quitting social media was due to what it made of her, and it went viral.

Many looked to O'Neill for thinspiration, squad goals, life goals, hair goals—all of the goals, really. But O'Neill opened up about how even though she had everything (fame, over half a million followers, and a contract with leading world modeling agency, IMG models), she felt like she had nothing and she lived for attention, rather than herself.

Responses flooded in. Some say O'Neill is doing the right thing by showing the truth behind what power social media has and the pressures it puts on people while even her friends say this is a publicity stunt and hoax. Others claim it's a drastic cry after a bad breakup, and that O'Neill is a plastic mold like every other social media star. So what do I think? I'm a little torn between all views.

O'Neill has been a growing model on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and many other media platforms since she was twelve. She even said that her reason for quitting social media was for her twelve-year-old self.

At twelve, I personally had thought I was fat for years. I had a full mouth of braces and glasses, and I too thought I would never be a pretty girl. So I fully understand this desire to be "Australia's" (or in my case America's), Next Top Model-beautiful. She wanted attention and to be desired as almost every twelve-year-old does. By middle school, 40-70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15, and O'Neill was no different.

I understand this. Taking photos for hours to feel beautiful is not uncommon, and to judge her for this, saying she is shallow and self-centered is completely absurd. Who are we to judge? We are a part of a society who spends hours doing the same thing for our senior high school or prom photos.

However, we can shed a little light on how O'Neill used her power and what messages she chose to display.

O'Neill posted photos of herself that would claim how she lost weight, how she got rid of her acne (which she now claims she just covered most of the time with large amounts of makeup), and other promotional products she was paid to show. Being paid for product promotion isn't the problem; acting as though these photos are candid, not edited, and making others feel horrible about themselves is. Maybe that's why she felt so depressed because it was all a lie.

Much of our photos and lives are edited nowadays. From teeth whitening, filters, thinning, airbrush to calorie restriction, a million acne products, and plastic surgery. I myself have indulged in, and still do, these social critiquing methods for social media and my everyday life. Aerie and other companies have tried to combat the issue with unedited models in their ads, but the issue remains constant.

Yet O'Neill made money off of the lies she told, and this affected many women's perception of their own features. Is this a crime? No. But falsifying reality and adding to impossibly high standards of beauty that we put on ourselves, celebrities, and men and women put on each other should be.

By being honest and claiming she still struggles with acne or her weight would have been more genuine than what she posted originally. She brings that to her followers' attentions now, but who knows how many lives were affected in the process?

As far as her breakup goes, I am in no place to criticize and neither are you. I can stand here (or type here if we speak literally), and say that no girl's decisions should be made based on any man and I wish that were true all of the time. So, if this breakup spurred O'Neill to tell the truth and maybe change one woman's perception of herself that lowered due to O'Neill's photos, then it was successful.

O'Neill now runs a website dedicated to changing social media and has a section of the website to accept money for doing just that.

Ultimately, you decide if O'Neill's quitting of social media is a publicity stunt or genuine care for the growing issues that surround social media beauty standards. In my opinion, it's a little bit of both. Even if her efforts were not genuine and superficial, at least O'Neill put it out there and conversations are being started.

We are not defined by our phones, social media outlets, photos, or society's "perfection goals," but rather who we are. Our life goals, the people who surround us, our passions and our contributions to change the world are what beauty really is. Being happy comes within ourselves, not from other people's validation.

Social media is not a problem, but not loving yourself without it is. Maybe now the whole world may finally see that we are beautiful because we are 110 percent completely us.

Thanks, O'Neill.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Poetry On Odyssey: Some Days

A poem that reminds you that you're not alone.


Some days,

You dread the sound of your alarm. You snooze and snooze and snooze and snooze.

When you finally pull yourself out of bed, pressed time forces you to throw on stained sweats

you find yourself chugging a cup of coffee.

You sit on the couch and contemplate calling out of work

You caught the stomach bug,

Or perhaps the flu,

Maybe you broke your collar bone

Or need a new phone

The endless list of excuses repeats through your head as you sit on the couch, wishing you were still in bed.

It takes every ounce

Every breath

Every fiber of your being to pull yourself off the couch

And into the car

And into the building where you work

Some days,

This is just how it goes

You are not alone.

Some days,

You awake to the beautiful sound of birds

Chirping outside your window

The sun sneaks its way into your room

A smile creeps across your face as you realize you are awake to see a new day

You make a good breakfast

You read a few pages of your favorite book

You get your mind ready for the things it will accomplish today

Before you know it you've worked an entire day

Your job is done

As you pull into your driveway,

you take a few breaths

Feeling grateful for another meaningful day.

Some days,

This is how it goes

You are not alone.

Every day is a gamble,

Every day is a gift

The key to getting more good days

Is believing that everyday is one.

You are not alone, this is just how it goes.

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