By now you’ve probably heard of Essena Oneill.
Beautiful, genetically blessed, intelligent and strong advocate for the plant based vegan lifestyle. A successful YouTuber, Model and Instagram sensation with over half a million followers. Someone I’ve looked up to and someone who consistently inspired me for her realness, at least from what I saw in her YouTube videos. I never thought of her as “fake” because I can separate the beautifully staged Instagram pictures that aren’t real life from the conversations and opinions she put out in her videos, all of which have been deleted. She recently quit all social media as well, disappearing because she was extremely unhappy and fed up with the fabrication of it all. She was addicted to the rush of recognition but reached her breaking point and called it quits with this “fake” life she built around number of followers and likes and shares.
At first I was disappointed because she opened the eyes of so many young people and introduced them to the vegan lifestyle. Her helpful videos were filled with genuine enthusiasm and love for living this way. Not once did I perceive her as being dishonest, but realized this uproar was much deeper for Essena than we know. Creating an image for yourself that doesn’t align with who you truly are is easy to do online. We all want our lives to look fancier than they actually are. Looking for constant approval and validation with each picture… anyone can get caught up in that… let alone if you have over 500,000 followers. The pressure to look a certain way brings all kinds of insecurities, negative comparisons and inner struggles.
The “fantasy” life created through social media is not real. Posting and sharing things that truly make you happy and fulfilled is completely different.
I think your social media experience is what you make of it.
Going in with the intention of gaining followers and likes and attention will get you nowhere in life but sharing your creative side and what truly brings you happiness is the good side of social media. You can connect and inspire and network. Sure there’s a dark side to everything but social media can be such an amazing tool when used authentically.
We all know when a picture is staged. We all do it, myself included. This doesn’t bother me because I have a grasp of what is real and what is not. Social media is all staged and we know that but hello – isn’t this called photography? I stage my pictures for instagram um… every time basically? How else do you do it? I’m not posting flawless bikini pictures on the beach or pretending to be something I’m not… I’ll admit that if I’m having breakfast and want to instagram what I’m eating, but am still in pajamas, I’ll probably change clothes for the picture… maybe add a few bracelets on my wrist and arrange the picture in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. Is that so wrong? Lol…I don’t do this every time and it may be considered “fake”, but I can assure you, the picture would not be as interesting if I were in pajamas.
I use social media for my business and for a creative outlet. I use it to promote the plant based vegan lifestyle. I use it to spread awareness and to connect with like-minded people. I use it for inspiration from food to style to travel and beyond. I use it for FUN! I use it to laugh. I use it to spark new ideas. I use it to see what other bloggers are up to. I use it to creep because who doesn’t? I scroll through it for constant inspiration and probably scroll through it too much. There are times where I’ll catch myself daydreaming and thinking “Wow. What I would give to be wearing that right now or be on that beach right now or doing what she’s doing right now” but then I snap back to reality. Social media is a funny thing…
While I’m no Instagram sensation, I have seen an increasing amount of opportunities for “paid posts” as my following grows. I receive emails from all kinds of companies who want to send free product in return for a post on Instagram but the important part is having the opportunity to choose what I feel comfortable promoting and what I don’t. Recently I was offered $500 for an Instagram post and blog post promoting a weight loss drug… I can’t promote that because it doesn’t align with the healthy, all natural lifestyle I advocate for The Glowing Fridge.
I can’t imagine what kinds of crazy offers Essena received…
Your experience is always what you make of it. As long as you feel comfortable with whatever you post, have good intent and it makes you happy then it’s totally fine. I respect what Essena is doing and her experience led her to a new path. She reminds us to stay true to ourselves, always be our best selves and remember that behind every picture is an actual person.