"NEVER did I think this would be shared so globally."
Sunshine Coast teenager and social media celebrity Essena O'Neill had a message for the world: shake off the pressure of social media and find meaning for your own life.
Since her story first broke on the Sunshine Coast Daily's website on Monday, support for her stance has exploded.
READ IT HERE
Her act of defiance -- dumping social media accounts and exposing the truths behind her most compelling photos -- has come at exactly the moment it was needed, delivering a sharp rebuke to the highly-edited images worshipped online.
Now as the ripples from her personal act have reached the ends of the earth, Essena has shared a tearful thanks on her new website: Let's Be Game Changers.
Real caption edit: @rachael_consaul took some great photos. Without a doubt she is talented. Originally I wanted them for my new site essenaoneill.com 🤖 Oh how much can change in a few small weeks. I now wish I wasn't wearing such a mask. I love this dress for it makes me feel like a fairy. What wasn't captured was the long talks we had sitting on the beach waiting for golden hour lighting. That's real life, this image is contrived beauty, not real.
In her tearful video, Essena tells of her fear as her site went live two days ago: frightened she would be labelled an attention seeker or worse.
But the enormous response to the video -- including media requests from Ten's The Project and American breakfast television show Good Morning America -- has given the teen something to be thankful for.
"I don't think I've been happier than this moment," she said.
"I just feel so grateful that this is being spread, that it is actually out there."
Essena is continuing her fight against the "perfect" images on social media, describing them as "not real" and "not inspirational".
"LIfe is so much more and I'm so thankful.
"For once in my life, I'm so happy, this is something real and people are talking about it."
Spray tan, paid promotional tea, barely any clothes. I was 15. This is what I thought was inspiring... Values were my body, my likes and pleasing others. Physical appearance is so deceptive. Camera angels, filters, time of day, tan... Plus I was so young and born with a naturally long torso and tiny waist. It's the genetic lottery. Nothing aspiring about that.
Other social media personalities have attempted to pour water on Essena's claims, by saying that she wasn't as famous as she seems.
YouTube stars Nina and Randa have released their own video addressing what Essena says, based on their experience of meeting her when she visited the United States.
That video has now had more than 30,000 views.
Essena has published a small note on her website to address comments being said about her online:
"Please, this isn't about my personal life.
"Those I trusted spreading rumours... this is my exact point about social media.
"WE MUST USE OUR VOICES FOR GOOD AND POSITIVE CHANGE.
"Why not talk about this movement as a concept?
"Why not talk about all the documentaries and books I have here that truly helped me?
"Why not use this as purely an example of social media reliance?
"Human beings are capable of so much more than gossip, cool pictures and ironic captions.
"Let's talk about real things happening globally that matter.
"Love the people around you and don't live in my phone, that's all my point is."
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