Essena O’Neill has had enough…and now she’s exposing the ugly truth behind the #filter and the flash like you’ve never seen before.

Meet Essena O’Neill, a beautiful 18-year-old Australian bombshell.

Over the last few years, Essena has amassed an empire of social media groupies who worship her every post.

From the outside looking in, this model has it ALL in her Instagram-perfect world.

But that’s not quite the case. O’Neill is coming clean about the mess that her supermodel life has made out of her, and she’s exposing her photos like never seen before. #Nofilter would be an understatement.

She shares how she started posting on social media, YouTube and a blog, and she soon became obsessed with it. Pleasing others became her drug, more addicting than cocaine. The “high” always left her coming back for more.

“I fell in love with this idea that I could be of value to other people,” she wrote. “Let’s call this my snowballing addiction to be liked by others.”

It wasn’t long before her Internet fame infected the worldwide web like a beautiful disease. It seemed like all she ever wanted, but it was killing her from the inside out.

O’Neill has more than 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, and she surpassed half a million on Instagram.

As her fame grew bigger and bigger, her opportunities for new sponsorships were limitless. She was even able to comfortably support herself financially through sponsorships, a rare feat for anyone to achieve in the the starving model industry. She started to get offers to model in L.A. as well.

Everything seemed to be coming together. But she was completely and utterly empty.

NONE of it was making her happy.

Just recently, O’Neill decided she was sick of not being true to herself. Her identity became so wrapped up in these photos that she didn’t even know who she was anymore. Enough was enough.

She saw that she stopped “actioning her values” and she was ready to do something about it.

“I was addicted to what others thought of me, simply because it was so readily available,” she wrote. “I was severely addicted. I believed how many likes and followers I had correlated to how many people liked me. I didn’t even see it happening, but social media had become my sole identity. I didn’t even know what I was without it.”

That’s when she decided she was officially done with the fake-flawless photos, and she set about exposing the real behind-the-scenes truth of her not-so-picture-perfect paradise.

She posted what really went into her photoshoots by detailing the raw truth behind individual photos with these comments…

Her “Edited Captions” tell all:


“…Stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs,” O’Neill wrote. “I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention.”

“A 15 year old girl that calorie restricts and excessively exercises is not goals. Anyone addicted to social media fame like I once was, is not in a conscious state,” she wrote on the above photo

‘Please like this photo, I put on makeup, curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewelry… Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps- just so I could feel some social approval from you,’” she wrote.

“I was 16 here. 16!!! I did not wear this outfit out of the house, just for the photo. What is the obsession with trying to look older, sexier?” she exposed.

“The only thing that made me feel good that day was this photo. How deeply depressing. Having a toned body is not all we as human beings are capable of,” she wrote.

And then came this truth bomb:


“If you find yourself looking at ‘Instagram girls’ and wishing your life was [their’s]… Realize you only see what they want,” she wrote. “If they tag a company 99% of the time it’s paid.”

Essena has since got rid of her Tumblr account and is going to put a halt to her YouTube posting as well. Additionally, she deleted her Instagram photos that according to her, “served no real purpose other than self promotion.”

She also posted a raw YouTube video expressing the meaninglessness that this world of faux beauty and approval addiction warped her into:

Now she’s using her soul-sucking supermodel experience for good with her new website, O’Neill is using the platform to tell her story and encourage others to be authentically them.

“Without realizing, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance. Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real,” she wrote.

It’s beautiful to see someone rip off the filters and show what’s really behind the flash. Essena is exactly the type of “model” we need for today’s woman.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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