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

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.


When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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