Social Media is Not Real Life

An 18-year-old Australian Instagram model by the name of Essena O’Neill recently edited her social media posts to show the negative effects of social media modeling and discourage others to follow the same path she did. Essena’s Instagram account had almost 580,000 followers, her youtube account had 260,000 subscribers and she had another 60,000 users on Snapchat. However, after realizing how unsatisfied she was on these social media platforms she deleted over 2,000 photos and went inactive on Youtube and Snapchat. The photos that she didn’t delete were re-captioned to show the circumstances in which they were taken.

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?

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?


EDIT REAL CAPTION: paid for this photo. If you find yourself looking at “Instagram girls” and wishing your life was there’s… Realise you only see what they want. If they tag a company 99% of the time it’s paid. Nothing is wrong with supporting brands you love (for example I proudly would promote Eco sheets or a vegan meal in exchange for money as its business for a purpose to me). BUT this ^^^ this has no purpose. No purpose in a forced smile, tiny clothes and being paid to look pretty. We are a generation told to consume and consume, with no thought of where it all comes from and where it all goes.

Essena’s new website, Let’s Be Game Changers, has more content about her terrible experience with social media modeling. The following is an extract from Essena’s website: “There is nothing cool about spending all your time taking edited pictures of yourself to prove to the world ‘you are enough’. Don’t let numbers define you. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not enough without excessive makeup, latest trends, 100+ likes on a photo, ‘a bikini body’, thigh gap, long blonde hair. I was born into the flesh I have, there is nothing inspirational about that. I am just so grateful to think of how many young men and women might see this movement and stop limiting themselves to artificial ideas of happiness online.” There are many other posts and videos that go into detail about the reasons she quit and the whole process of modeling on social media.

Essena’s revolt against social media modeling was unexpected and brought a lot of attention to the topic. What do you think about her social media blow up? Are you in favor of her new views against social media? There are links below, if you want to learn more about the topic and Essena’s new webiste.



– Levine, E., (2015) ‘Former Instagram Model Edits Her Posts To Reveal Truth Behind The Photos’ Elitedaily, viewed online 2 November 2015 at <;


4 thoughts on “Social Media is Not Real Life

  1. When I red this story on my Facebook timeline, I was very surprised too. In my opinion it’s really great what she did, just tell the whole world the real story behind her social media life. There are a lot of young girls who dream about become a super model, because it always seems to be a fantastic life! That’s why I think it’s very good that she started to get her own view against social media, just to let everyone know that you don’t always have a fantastic life when you are a super model on social media. That’s the danger of being a super model, especially a social media super model: Nobody knows what you really have to do for that kind of pictures and that nobody knows that you are really unsatisfied

  2. Interesting post! When I saw this on Facebook, I actually wanted to write a blogpost about it aswell.

    On one hand, I agree with Essena. There is more to life than Social Media. You should be able to do things without having the urge to take the perfect picture to post on Instagram to show your followers how great your life is. She also mentioned meeting new people just to show her followers and not really connecting with them. And I think that’s sad.

    But on the other hand, she makes it seem like Social Media destroyed her life. Everyone had the same access to the platform, but not everyone lets it define their lives as much as she did. I don’t think Social Media is bad, and I think most of us know there is a difference between real life and social media. Same as reality shows aren’t real life, but it’s still fun to watch. Anyways, why was it bad that she was paid to take a picture and post it on Instagram? And again, she made a big deal about it ON Social Media. A bit double, right?

  3. I saw this post on Facebook and shared it with my friends! It is indeed a brave move made by Essena to come up front with these realities!
    I agree that most girls nowadays are obsessed with the way they are portrayed on social media platforms and this pressure could truly have an huge impact on an individual. There is indeed more to life than gaining more followers or likes on social media platforms as the number of likes or followers do not portray the number friends you have in real life. There is a big difference when it comes to showcasing yourself in the ‘reel world’ and the ‘real would’ which you live in. I’m glad she let out the effort that goes into these ‘perfect pictures’ which causes insecurity amongst various women leading to low self confidence.

    I can definitely relate to everything she has mentioned but I do also feel that individuals should not get too affected by these posts. I don’t think its bad for brands use models to showcase their products. We must be thankful of what we have and not take these posts too seriously!

  4. I’ve seen this circulating online for a while and also read a lot about it. The first time I heard about this I thought it was great someone with the ability to reach so many people was stating how social media is not the most important thing in this world. I feel like it’s a reminder many people need at times. However, the more I read the more I begun to see the faults in her argument. She complained that she had to post pictures of her wearing clothes for advertisements, which to her meant that she was portraying a lie. Along with that, she says that she was constantly focused on the number of likes and followers she had. To me, there were many other points I would like to address, but these are the two main ones.
    Firstly, I cannot imagine she was ever forced into advertising brands. She made that decision on her own. She created a false reality towards the people that were following her, so for her to blame social media is not fair. Social media was created for people to share their lives and in some cases people may choose to portray a version of themselves that is not necessarily the truth, however, there are also many others that post exactly what their lives are about.
    As for her fixation on the number of followers and likes she had, to me that appears to be her own insecurity. Although it is something many people worry about, just as above, it is not the case for everyone. There are many people who continue to post online even though they have very few followers, if it makes them happy why should they stop?
    So for Essena to condemn social media and say that it is all a lie, is a lie in itself. Social media is what you want it to be, in her case she chose to portray a lie. You can create a false reality or portray the truth that is our prerogative as human beings, but it is not a choice of one or the other.

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