Essena O'Neill, a former model from Australia, made a huge name for herself on social media.
The 18-year-old amassed more than 500,000 Instagram followers over the years, leading to endorsement deals and modeling contracts.
Sure, her life seemed perfect, but behind the filters, the lighting, the reshoots and the editing, Essena's life was nowhere near as glamorous.
A few days ago, Essena decided to give it all up to live her authentic life. She took thousands of images off her Instagram account, edited the captions on the ones she left, and launched her new site, Let's Be Game Changers.
On the site Essena wrote,
I can't tell you how free I feel without social media. Never again will I let a number define me. IT SUFFOCATED ME. Not because I had 500,000 followers, I felt the same as a young girl, I would just spend hours looking at everyone else's perfect lives and I strived to make mine look just as good... Guess I succeeded. It's totally stupid. Everyone's doing it. And I know you didn't come into this world just wanting to fit in and get by. You are reading this now because you are a game changer, you might not know your power yet, I am just finding mine, but man... when you do... far out you'll go crazy. It'll be brilliant. You'll be brilliant.
Over the last 24 hours, Essena's story has gone viral. Perhaps because her followers want to learn more, or perhaps because millions of other people feel the same way she does.
On Monday evening, Essena posted an emotional thank you video for helping her message go global.
In a post Essena wrote,
I'm crying because I needed to hear this when I was younger, heck anyone who spends hours and hours on a screen wishing they could have a 'perfect' life, this is for you. There is nothing cool about spending all your time taking edited pictures of yourself to prove to the world 'you are enough'. Don't let numbers define you. Don't let anyone tell you you're not enough without excessive makeup, latest trends, 100+ likes on a photo, 'a bikini body', thigh gap, long blonde hair. I was born into the flesh I have, there is nothing inspirational about that. I am just so grateful to think of how many young men and women might see this movement and stop limiting themselves to artificial ideas of happiness online. When you stop comparing and viewing yourself against others, you start to see your own spark and individuality. Everyone has love, kindness, creativity, passion and purpose. Don't let anyone sell you something different.
Check out Essena's video, above, and her Let's Be Game Changers site here.