Aussie teen Instagram star Essena O’Neill created a furore with her public meltdown denouncing the very medium that made her a social media sensation.
The bikini-loving Essena says she’s been “selling a lie” as she flashed her toned abs in scores of exotic locations, and was so broke she couldn’t pay the rent. Dubious friends are already questioning her motives – they say she’s now exploiting a niche in the burgeoning ‘body positive’ arena. But regardless of what we think, former MasterChef contestant Jules Allen, who is no stranger to the vagaries of social media herself, says there’s a message in the firestorm for all…
“Controversy is rife in response to Essena O’Neill’s very public breakdown over the pressures of being a high profile social media star.
The 19-year-old, who has nearly 500,000 Instagram followers, launched a YouTube video claiming she could no longer be a part of a ‘fake, superficial and judgmental world’.
Essena was paid big bucks by a range of companies to pose and post on her popular social media platform.
Some are singing her praises for having the courage to make such a stand, while some of those close to the source are not so generous, claiming that the whole affair is misleading and driven by her intentions to increase her notoriety.
Ironically, she’s doing it on the very platform that she is denouncing. The hypocrisy of media, in any of its forms, never ceases to amaze me.
Irrespective of your personal view on the validity of her stance, this is a fantastic opportunity to discuss an issue that affects all of us. After carefully reviewing her YouTube clip I believe what she is talking about is not merely a social media issue.
Essena is clearly despairing over an industry that thrives on illuminating a fantasy world. One in which sponsors use young girls as their puppets to portray such delusions. This is certainly not privy to social media and is, in fact, the backbone of how all media genres survive.
Without sponsorship, TV programs would not air and all the sporting events we all adore so much would not get off the ground. What Essena is referring to, in my opinion, is one of the most damaging and subtle forms of marketing that companies use.
This approach is aimed largely at woman, and more often than that, our teenage girls. What is it exactly that these huge, ruthless corporations are so successfully targeting? Our insecurities!
How many of these companies would go broke if our young girls and women were taught to accept themselves…..completely?
Imagine if they would just accept the reality that surrounds them. To embrace the small joys found in everyday existence, rather than being encouraged to desire a world that is non-existent.
Where do I even begin with the problems this is causing. We have a population of young people rejecting themselves; caught in a perpetual spiral of chasing the unattainable.
Eating disorders are rife, self-harm and self-esteem issues are at the centre of this, and drugs and alcohol are often seen as the only escape from reality that is actually achievable…in the short term.
I applaud Essena for the simple fact that she has raised an issue that desperately needs addressing.
This is not a social media or a mainstream media issue. It is about the integrity of the individual and society. Those in high-profile positions should (and many are) morally obligated to question the intention of their sponsors.
As a society we need to be taking a stand against these styles of marketing. The solution is an alternative – and the alternative needs to be ‘real’.”