Teen social media star quits Instagram, says it is 'not real life'

Australian social media star Essena O'Neill has publicly declared that she is giving up her social media career, and edited her Instagram posts to reveal the truth behind the "candid" shots she put up.

The 19-year-old, who has more than 700,000 followers, deleted thousands of photos on her Instagram account, then re-edited the captions on the remaining 96 photos to show that they were fake.

She admitted that many of them were paid posts, and wrote in one caption: "I could make $2,000AUD (S$2,010) easy".

"It's contrived perfection made to get attention," she captioned a photo of her in a bikini, adding "stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs".

In another post of her in an evening dress, she captioned: "NOT REAL LIFE - I didn't pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone."

The tanned, attractive teen said she was "consumed" by social media in a YouTube video titled HOW PEOPLE MAKE 1000'S ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

"Why would you tell your followers that you're paid a lot to promote what you promote," she said. "Why would you tell your followers that you literally just do shoots every day to take pictures for Instagram? It's not cool."

She has also started a website to encourage young people to give up social media.

While she is still active online - setting a new site www.letsbegamechangers.com - she said that she was "quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr".

Explaining why she is giving up her social media career, she described how she was obsessed with checking all her social media accounts and reading what people said about her online.

"I wasn't living in a 3D world," she said.

In another video uploaded to YouTube on Monday (Nov 2), which she said would be her last, she said she wanted this to be a wakeup call to all her followers.

She was surrounded by wealth and fame, but she was miserable, O'Neill said.

She said: "I want to tell you that having it all on social media means absolutely nothing to your real life."

This article was first published on Nov 3, 2015.
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