After model Essena O’Neill recently decided to quit Instagram because ‘it’s not real‘, some influential Instagram and YouTube users rushed to prove their channels were more than just covert adverts.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum, others decided to follow O’Neill’s lesson and started reposting their own photos with honest captions – detailing how much effort they undertook to get the ‘perfect’ picture.
The 19-year-old model from Queensland, Australia, quit Instagram and YouTube earlier this week, but not before exposing the reality behind the paid for posts she regularly uploaded for her 600,000 followers to see.
According to The Independent O’Neill said the pressure to look perfect and project the image of living an idyllic, perfect life was too much, leaving her miserable.
Now, using the hashtag #socialmediaisnotreal, other famous Instagrammers have started revealing the truth behind their own photos – like Baylynne Williford, a pre-law student over in the U.S. who has begun posting unedited pictures, as well as re-captioning her previously edited images with the truth.
She explained on her account:
I have changed into someone who validates their self esteem and self worth on likes/comments on my photos and I’m over it. From now on, I will be posting unedited photos with me as I am, or what I am doing. Not just me trying to look like something I’m not in real life. I’ve changed the caption on all my photos to show the truth behind it, and even deleted some I thought were too edited. This is real and this is me. Welcome to a new era.
And others soon followed suit…
Thank you @exning for bringing this to my attention! It’s super hard for me to post this because I’ve always been very insecure about my makeup-less face, but it needs to be done! #nomakeup I completely back the #flauntyourflaws movement. I was 18 and carefree when I started getting facial piercings (I had 13 in my face at once at one point lol) 8 years later, the hollow needles used on my face left horrible scaring and I’ve edited them out of almost every photoshoot, and most of my Instagram photos. I am also in total support of @essenaoneill and the #socialmediaisnotreallife tag. Mostly everyone I know puts up this front to impress their followers. Let’s get back to basics and stop living in such a self absorbed world of image crafting for likes and followers. Love yourself for who you are, not what everyone else perceives you to be on social media. #takeastepback A photo posted by Tristyn Renã Daily (@tristynrena) on
*honest caption: I was supposed to be going out on the night I took this photo, but I felt too ill, so instead I stayed in and spent an hour doing my makeup for no other purpose than getting a good selfie for an article. I spent a good 45 minutes setting up lamps to light my face from the right angles and taking around 60 shots before I finally decided that I was happy with this one. My face does not look like this. Even on a night out, with this exact makeup, I would be sweaty from dancing or laughing with friends. This is a fake representation of a face that would usually look less perfect yet, I hope, a lot happier.* #SocialMediaIsNotRealLife
@essenaoneill’s message is an important one but one that, I hope, we all already know. You are not your follower count. No one has a perfect life. We spend too much time connecting with people across the globe than connecting with those in the same room. #socialmediaisnotreallife While I don’t agree with Essenia’s complete demonization of social media or the sweeping generalizations she makes I think that the #flauntyourflaws movement is extremely important so here is a picture with absolutely no editing and #nomakeup Here are my lack of eyelashes, my over plucked eyebrows, the bags under my eyes from not sleeping for almost two years, and my crazy frizzy hair that I hated all of my childhood and into most of my early adulthood. If at any point you find that the things you spend your time and energy on are toxic to you personally, please cut them out of your life but the thing is, for me anyway, the Internet is actually one of the places that I learned to love the things that made me unique instead of feeling pressure to look or act like someone else. (@suicidegirls played a big roll in this) I think I would be straightening my hair to this day if there weren’t so many galleries and websites and groups about people embracing and loving their natural curls. I might have been ashamed for my small breasts bc main stream media glorifies boob jobs but I found out how many people love them… Or just don’t care (if you have a boob job and it makes you feel good I think that is great). Because of the Internet I’ve been able to connect with people and feel a sense of community and understanding that I didn’t always feel with the people around me (especially as a teenager). The Internet and social media have made my world bigger by giving me instant access to people from all different walks of life. It has helped me follow specific interests that weren’t always covered in school. It has helped me explore my sexuality. It has acted as a way to easily remain close with even my very best childhood friends who are now hundreds of miles away scattered across the west coast. Basically #ilovetheinternet and think that like all things, it is what you make of it. Anyway if you A photo posted by @localsparrow on
O’Neill now posts content on her website and Vimeo, and has promised never to share a paid for post again.