Australian social media model Essena O’Neill went viral in an unintentional way after she announced she was done with social media and the pressure to look perfect online.
After spending years amassing hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, O’Neill said she was calling it quits to search for what’s “real.”
She launched a site called “Let’s Be Game Changers” to encourage others to quit social media, but confusingly, has been using Vimeo, a video-based social media network, to promote it.
Since the plan broke her followers have grown by the thousands, while her “friends”, Nina and Randa, posted videos online saying it is all a hoax.
Amid that backlash, O’Neill has completely deleted her Instagram and YouTube accounts.
Her website now reads: “This is my exact point about social media. PEOPLE SAY GOSSIP AND RUMOURS TO AVOID THE REAL PROBLEMS,” she wrote in response to Nina and Randa, adding, in a video, that “I’m kind of already over the headlines to be honest” and that “there are so many individuals that deserve headlines over me.”
Fellow Australian social media queen Kayla Itsines has even weighed in to the debate.
Itsines, who accidentally became an internet sensation after not realising that her Instagram account wasn’t private, now has 3.8 million followers, and she uses it to promote “bikini body” workouts and photos of young women who’ve transformed their bodies after following her healthy lifestyle tips.
Yesterday, she posted what essentially amounted to her social media manifesto.
“I would like to touch on this recent ‘Social Media is not real life’ article,” she captions her Istagram photo.
“Three weeks ago, I made a post explaining ‘a side of social media that you don’t see’. What it REALLY takes. I explained that it’s not as simple as posting a few photos of beautiful food, new clothes, luxury items (whatever celebrities post) and *BAM*, life is amazing. On my account, I’ll tell you now, you don’t see a lot of things. Not because I don’t want to show you, because I cannot physically take a photo of them. Things like… the 5 am wake ups, the late nights, the constant bullying, the lack of support and understanding of friends, the stress…. and so much more. When I began my Instagram I had 3 things I would never do – and I still haven’t done.
“1️. I would NEVER promote something I didn’t believe in (detox, fads, quick fixes), and I still refuse.
“2. I would NEVER sexualise myself or pose provocatively to sell anything.
“3. I would never only post information that suits my lifestyle. (For example, I don’t really enjoy eating mushrooms, but I would never tell YOU not to eat them if they’re good for you). I don’t recommend you eat one certain way, I recommend you eat HEALTHY, and in which way you choose to do that, is completely up to you, so I like to provide information that suits all lifestyle preferences.
“If you are healthy and fit, I’m happy!! What I’m trying to say is that I want you ladies to be YOU. I want you to be the REAL YOU. My life, my food, my family …isn’t YOUR life, everyone is different.
“I post these transformations to show you there are SOOOO many girls out there on so many different journeys. All with one goal, to be happy, healthy and fit! Don’t strive to live like, or be like, one person on social media. Create your own self. Be honest. Stick to your morals .. and always try and be the BEST person you can be.”
The photo, along with the letter was posted one day ago and has already attracted 51.9k likes and 676 comments.
Here it is in full.