Essena O’Neill had a half a million followers on Instagram with a quarter million more on YouTube and Tumblr. She explains that the validation she felt from getting followers and “views” wasn’t genuine. It didn’t make the 18 year-old as happy as she thought it might-she felt “suffocated”.
Tearing it Down: O’Neill has recently deleted her accounts but has left only a few of the original 2000 shots in Instagram. With each shot, she’s written a caption about the truth behind each picture. She wants other (young) people to understand that “candid” beauty shots aren’t candid; the perfect bikini pic was taken 100 different ways; most shots were retouched.
Illusion and Delusion: O’Neill says she’s discovered that what appears to be real, really is not. The photos are not, and more importantly, the validation is not-it’s the judgment of strangers.
“Everyone wants to feel valued and loved,” says O’Neill, but high numbers on social media won’t provide that.