Article by News.com.au /
November 04, 2015 /
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THE Queensland model who quit Instagram after tearfully admitting she’d deceived her half a million followers has appeared on TV to explain her “rambling mess” of a video, and says she is now broke.
In a rather bizarre interview on Channel Nine’s Today show, Essena O’Neill, 18, told host Karl Stefanovic she wanted to “start a conversation” about “what is real” before launching into another ramble about loving poetry and public speaking.
“There were so many things I grew up passionate about, the environment, spiritualism … I suppressed (it) because I didn’t think it was Insta worthy,” Ms O’Neill said of her decision to quit social media and expose her own fakery. “It was a waking up.”
“I’ve just got to remind myself I just want to be myself, not seen through other people’s eyes.”
In one awkward exchange, Stefanovic asked if she could relate to Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne, to which Ms O’Neill replied: “I’m confused … I don’t agree with horse racing.”
Ms O’Neill sensationally quit social media while exposing the “dark truth” behind Instafame, revealing how she was paid to promote products online and would often “hardly eat all day” to appear flawless in her snaps.
In a video posted online earlier this week, Ms O’Neill admitted she had done nothing to deserve her fame and begged her hundreds of thousands of social media followers not to be “deluded” by what they saw.
But in a tearful second video posted on her new website, letsbegamechangers.com, O’Neill admits that after abandoning her “whole career built around social media”, she was now struggling to make ends meet.
Model’s tearful farewell to Instagram
“What I’m doing scares the absolute f*ck out of me,” she said in the video.
“I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I have no idea how I’m going to make money.”
Ms O’Neill then suggested fans who wanted to support her could visit a support page on her website.
“I can’t afford rent right now,” she said.
“It’s like I’m just embarrassed to admit that I need help … if you like my videos or like any of my posts or you like this website, if this is of value to you, then yeah, please support me because I can’t afford my own real life.
“It’s like I’m embarrassed to say, ‘Hey I’d rather you support what I’m doing by you paying what you think it’s worth to you. It’s like that’s embarrassing or wrong, but promoting endless products, getting cheap views on YouTube … or using my looks for money, that that’s OK? But actually just making a new thing … if you think that’s cool, support me.”
Ms O’Neill commanded half a million Instagram followers, more than 250,000 YouTube subscribers and was signed with major brands and a modelling agency when she quit social media.
She shut down her Tumblr, YouTube and Snapchat accounts and changed her Instagram account name to Social Media is Not Real Life.
Ms O’Neill has reworked her Instagram captions to reveal the truth behind the photos, admitting in one photo she “took over 100 (photos) in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good”.
Sporting a more natural, make-up free look, Ms O’Neill cried as she described how her “social media is not real” message was being spread around the world.
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.
“I feel so grateful that this is being spread, that this is actually getting out there,” she said in the most recent video posted to her website.
“That young people can find out the reality behind the “perfect Instagram life” and how nothing is perfect about spending every single day making your life look perfect online.
“That us not real. It is not inspirational. And there is there so much more we could be doing than editing ourselves and proving ourselves to others.”
The teenager has earned praise for her bold stance against Instafame fakery, including from fitness blogger and Instagram celebrity Kayla Itsines, who posted a powerful Instagram message yesterday in response to Ms O’Neill.
Ms Itsines, who did not name Ms O’Neill in the post, called the “Social Media Is Not Real Life” account “absolutely fantastic” and urged her followers to “be honest” and “the best person you can be”.
But others have accused Ms O’Neill of trying to get a second bite of the cherry from her Instagram fame and cleverly re-marketing herself.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, an expert in pop culture and sexuality from Melbourne University, told the ABC: “She (Ms O’Neill) is finding ways to milk a second set of attention from her already-posted photos by rebranding herself as somehow reformed and body-positive”.
“This doesn’t negate the message but nor does it come across as totally spontaneous,” she said.