Instagram star Essena O’Neill wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming response she received after quitting social media. In a raw and emotional video posted on her new Vimeo account on Tuesday, Nov. 3, the 18-year-old former Instagram model cried while thanking fans for their support after she declared on Monday that there’s more to life than just likes.
“I don’t ever think I’ve been happier than this moment,” she sobs while filming herself from her computer. “I was scared that no one wants to hear the truth, that everyone’s going to think I’m an attention-seeker, that I’m just complaining. But this message that likes, followers, views — that we’re more than a number — it’s going global.” In the caption for her latest video, she added: “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.”
O’Neill, who quit all her social media accounts aside from Vimeo — after thoroughly editing her Instagram posts to project her new stance, she deleted Instagram as well Tuesday night — continued to explain in the video that there’s more to life that just spending hours trying to edit a photo to portray the perfect scripted reality.
As previously reported, the teen went back and edited all of her Instagram captions to reveal her true emotions behind her enviable-looking photos, and renamed her account “Social Media Is Not Real Life,” as well as launched a website advocating for awareness and change.
In one since-deleted bikini shot, for example, the brave young woman wrote: “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. Yep so totally #goals.”
Watch her latest video above.
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