By Shannon Jameson
In a bold move last week, an Australian Instagram sensation Essena O’Neill declared that she was quitting social media. Essena deleted her Snapchat and YouTube accounts, and she also deleted thousands of photos from her Instagram page. The remaining photos have drastically altered captions that ousted the practices that brought her fame.
With over 600,000 followers, brand deals and endorsements, including a modeling contract from an exclusive modelling agency, the social media meltdown came as a surprise to followers. This announcement swiftly became a trending topic on all social media platforms.
Essena had a seemingly “perfect” life, but a dark reality lied behind her beauty. The edited captions of her Instagram photos revealed that she was being paid to promote products, and she also revealed the lengths she went to get the “perfect shot.” She said the only reason she took the photos was for self-promotion and the likes. Often times, one “good” photo would be the only exciting part of her day.
Essena O’Neill is not the only beautiful young adult who participates in the growing field of social media modelling. Many women now support themselves through social media platforms, such as Instagram. They accumulate thousands of followers and likes, capturing the attention of various brands. The brands in return pay these women to showcase their products. This strategy is becoming a growing trend, with companies spending a total of $1.5 billion per year on sponsoring certain contents.
Essena challenges these practices and vows to live more authentically. A quote from her Instagram reads, “I didn’t live in the real world, I lived through screens. And I created a celebrity construct of myself, believing it would bring me happiness…I no longer want to spend hours and hours of my time scrolling, viewing and comparing myself to others.”
The fabricated reality of social media is a concern that continues to be brought into the spotlight, as this lucrative industry has emerged from new technology.