The Important Reason This Teen Instagram Model Is Quitting Social Media

18-year-old Australian Instagram star Essena O’Neill had amassed half a million followers on Instagram, 200,000 subscribers on her YouTube and Tumblr accounts, and 60,000 people viewing her Snapchat every day. Her fans idolized her appearance, commenting things like "#goals" and "you're perfect." So, why on Earth would she want to erase her social media presence?

"I've spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance," O'Neill writes in her last Instagram post on October 27. "[Social media] is contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It's a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. it's perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgement."

So, she decided she's done with social media — at least using it for self-promotion. Now, she's using it for social good.

O'Neill has deleted over 2,000 photos from her Instagram, changed her account name to "Social Media Is Not Real Life," and replaced the captions on the remaining photos with truthful anecdotes about posts she was paid for, how many tries it took to get the shot, and the pressures she felt to look perfect.

NOT REAL LIFE - took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals Photo: @essenaoneill

"How can we see ourselves and our true purpose/talents if we are constantly viewing others?" she continues in her final Instagram post. "Many of us are in so deep we don't realise it's delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives."

O'Neill also posted her last video on YouTube on November 2 to explain how people make money off social media: "I haven't done anything for this success except put pictures of myself online," she says.

And since she has "an insight into a world of social media that [she] believe[s] not many people are aware of in terms of how it works in advertisements," she'll now be uploading daily videos on the topic to Vimeo instead of YouTube, because of its "positive and value-based ranking, not likes or followers or BS ads."

Was paid $400 to post a dress. That's when I had maybe 150k followers, with half a million followers, I know of many online brands (with big budgets) that pay up to $2000 per post. Nothing is wrong with accepting brand deals. I just think it should be known. This photo had no substance, it was not of ethical manufacturing (I was uneducated at the time). SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL is my point. Be aware what people promote, ask yourself, what's their intention behind the photo? Photo: @essenaoneill

O'Neill writes on her newly launched site Let's Be Game Changers, "PLEASE CAN SOMEONE MAKE A SOCIAL SHARING PLATFORM NOT BASED ON VALIDATION IN VIEWS/FOLLOWERS/LIKES BUT SHARED FOR REAL VALUE AND LOVE. THANK YOU. PLEASE HURRY UP."

There is nothing zen about trying to look zen, taking a photo of you trying to be zen and proving your zen on Instagram. Photo: @essenaoneill

She wants her followers to know that they shouldn't actually want her life, as they've said in comments. On the surface, it seemed like she was living a “dream life," but the truth is that she had never been more “miserable” in her life.

The only thing that made me feel good that day was this photo. How deeply depressing. Having a toned body is not all we as human beings are capable of. Photo: @essenaoneill

Thank you, Essena, for revealing the ugly truth behind a supposedly beautiful life. We're all constantly plugged into social media, it's become our reality — so we needed this reality check.

Edit: "Please like this photo, I put on makeup, curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewellery... Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps- just so I could feel some social approval from you." THERE IS NOTHING REAL ABOUT THIS. #celebrityconstruct Photo: @essenaoneill

(h/t Elle)

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