Sunday, November 08, 2015

Ex-social media model asks for rent money

Ex-social media model asks for rent money:

Essena O'Neill during her days of paid posting. Photo / Instagram
Essena O'Neill during her days of paid posting. Photo / Instagram
The teen model who publicly gave up social media because she believes it promotes a "dishonest and contrived" sense of beauty, has launched an online appeal to help her pay for her new lifestyle.


Essena O'Neill, who had almost a million followers on social media when she made her widely-publicised decision, is now inviting supporters of her new, all-natural and makeup-free image to donate money to help her live.

In a teary video posted to her new website Let's Be Game Changers, the 19-year-old - who previously spent more than 50 hours a week strategically constructing an image of a beautiful, happy and carefree teen - explains why she abandoned her "celebrity" social media status and says that without her online income she is no longer able to support herself.

"I can't afford rent right now," she said in the 17 minute video. "It's like I am embarrassed to admit that I need help... if this [website] is of value to you then please support me because I can't afford my own real life."

O'Neill, from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, confessed to building a social media empire where she was paid to flaunt designer clothing and food products in a bid to "delude" her followers into buying them.

But after a change of heart, she said she hopes to initiate a movement where an individual's worth is not determined by their physical attributes or social media influence, giving people the opportunity to be free, grow, learn and explore while challenging their own beliefs.

And while she has vowed not to feature any promotional material in her posts, O'Neill has still asked for contributions from her fans, saying she feels it is morally different to ask for financial support after creating a resource thousands of teens could use to better themselves.

"I'm not a purist. I need money to cover the basics. If you get something from what I'm doing, pay what it's worth to you," she wrote on her website.

Since proclaiming her disdain for the "instafamous culture" and the effects she believes it has on young people's self worth, O'Neill has gained worldwide notoriety - with many people taking to social media to praise her for having the strength to speak out against the industry.

However, others have questioned if it is just another marketing stunt to promote her new site where she encourages others to live a life without digital distractions.

"Is it me or does this just sound like another opportunity to expand her career?," one woman wrote on Facebook.

"This is simply smart marketing. She's reversing her conventional image and in the process, gaining even more media exposure. She's clever - this will only improve her career in a shift towards 'body positive' advocacy which is more of a niche," another wrote on ABC News' Facebook account.

The bronzed teen had over 574,000 Instagram followers, more than 250,000 subscribers on YouTube and around 60,000 dedicated Snapchat contacts when she announced that she was giving up her life as a "social media celebrity".

She has since deleted around 2,000 photos from her social media accounts, amending the captions on her remaining images to reflect the "truth" behind the snapshot in a bid to "expose the harsh and often humorous reality behind the instafamous culture".

O'Neill's candid captions have revealed details about how much she was paid for promotional posts, how much makeup she was wearing and how many failed attempts she made before capturing a photo worthy of posting.

She said she is now promoting a movement that she thinks could make a real difference in the lives of teenagers consumed by their digital lives, who validate themselves through the number of likes, followers or comments they receive.

"If you find yourself looking at 'Instagram girls' and wishing your life was there's... Realise you only see what they want," she wrote.

"My success was largely in the hands of my white privilege and genetics. I was thin, tanned, toned, blonde with a big smile and a push up bra," she said.


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