Essena O'Neill had an epiphany.
After deactivating much of her social media, and writing a lengthy post about the dangers of social media, the 19-year-old former Instagram model posted a new video of how inspired she is that her message has reached so many people. Via social media.
"Never did I think this would be shared so globally," Essena wrote on her site. "Thank you to all these media outlets for helping start this discussion."
"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,'" she continues.
"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," she writes. "Everyone has love, kindness, creativity, passion and purpose. Don't let anyone sell you something different. "
The Australian-born model has over 914,000 followers on Instagram, but last week, she deleted most of her photos except for select images, where she added "real captions."
"What wasn't captured was the long talks we had sitting on the beach waiting for golden hour lighting," she added to the caption of one of her modeling photos. "That's real life, this image is contrived beauty, not real."
In her lengthy explanation for why she chose to leave social media, Essena wrote, "I've spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance. Social media, especially how I used it, isn't real."
Read her whole explanation below.