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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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A teen Instagram star has quit the site to expose her 'fake and forced' beauty pics

Essena O’Neill has recaptioned all her photos to tell the real stories behind them.

Source: essenaoneill

ESSENA O’NEILL IS an 18-year-old Instagram star growing up in Australia, with a following of several hundred thousand.

Her pics – often highlighting her own body in a bikini – regularly clocked up 20,000 likes.

But O’Neill has now quit Instagram and Tumblr and deleted (by her own count) more than 2,000 images “served no real purpose other than self promotion”.

She also edited the captions of dozen of remaining “false photos” to show the “reality” behind the images, and to highlight that she was paid to promote products in many of them.

The pic above – whose original caption was “EXAMS ARE OVER! Happy happy gurrrrl” – has been edited to read:

when your caption acts to distract the viewer from a very much posed bikini shot of a paid brand. Totally fooled them. Any girl with a lot of followers promoting a bikini brand is paid, I would say 99% of the time.

Source: essenaoneill

This photo has been recaptioned:

NOT REAL LIFE – took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this.

Source: essenaoneill

And this one: “NOT REAL LIFE – I didn’t pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone.”

Source: YouTube

In a new YouTube video called HOW PEOPLE MAKE 1000′S ON SOCIAL MEDIA, O’Neill claims many other Instagram stars are promoting products without revealing that they are paid to do so.

I don’t really know of any other… content creator… who uses self promotion for financial gain, who talks about this. Because why would you tell your followers that you’re paid a lot to promote what you promote? Why would you tell your followers that you literally just do shoots every day to post something to Instagram?

She has set up a new website, letsbegamechangers.com, encouraging young people not to be consumed by the validation that she says social media can offer.

“There is nothing cool about spending all your time taking edited pictures of yourself,” she writes on the homepage.

"Paid promotion of a tanning product. Only wore workout wear for the photo." Source: essenaoneill

“Don’t let numbers define you,” she writes. “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.”

Instead, she challenges readers to “create something. I don’t care what it is, art, a cartoon… a song, a poem, a piece of cloth, garden, a sport… Something that you can say after a week, ‘hey I created this”.

"and yet another photo taken purely to promote my 16 year old body. This was my whole identity. That was so limiting. Made me incredibly insecure. You have no idea." Source: essenaoneill

O’Neill’s turnaround has won acclaim from other social media users.

Here’s the video in which O’Neill explains her decision to quit:

Source: Essena ONeill/YouTube

More: What If Instagram Was Actually Like Real Life?>

More: Irish teens are using ‘#spicebag’ to tag their ‘stunning’ Instagram selfies>

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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