Essena O’Neill is telling it like it is. You’ve probably seen it by now: her radical denouncement of social media, itself gone more viral than she could have imagined. O’Neill had social media success: half a million Instagram followers, 200,000 YouTube subscribers, modelling contracts and product sponsorships. And then just days ago she publicly quit, saying that social media had “consumed” her.

O’Neill deleted thousands of photos and changed the captions on others to reveal what really went on behind the scenes to nail the perfect Instagram shot. She confirmed something so many of us know and yet so many still, unfortunately, do not: the perfect, happy lives that Instagram depicts are often not that happy at all.

Essena ONeill bikini instagram: social media is not real life

And while O’Neill highlights how much undisclosed advertising and product placement happens on platforms like Instagram, she reveals something even more important.

The saddest truth is how much work goes into manufacturing happy, perfect-looking moments, at the expense of the Instagrammer actually getting to experience any in real life. All so that followers can be so envious that they, too, fail to enjoy their own lives.

Essena O’Neill’s message matters because she’s one of the few to call out the lies from the inside. It matters because she’s in a position to make people sit up and take notice.

Her message is that we should all live the lives we have, and not the ones we think we want.

Her message is that we should go out and experience the real world, make genuine human connections, and actually be happy rather than simply trying to convince everyone else that we are.

But above all her message is that your value is not in numbers, it’s not in likes, and it’s not in how you look.

And the best part is that Essena in her last videos – wild haired, without makeup, crying happy tears – is probably the most beautiful the world has ever seen her.

Visit her site at

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