Happy Friday, lovely!
I have been biting at the bit to respond to this whole Essena O’Neill craziness that has been going on! In case you’re not in the loop, let me fill you in. Essena O’Neill is a 19-year-old Instagram model who had more than 840,000 followers. She recently decided to delete her account, explaining that her need for daily, social approval in ‘likes’ was suffocating and that the whole Instagram enterprise is “contrived”; that “social media is an illusion.” Some things I can relate to and some things I just can’t. I will start off by saying that if you are not someone who is active on social, that social media can be a really scary thing that can totally mess with your head, but with negative days come positive ones, like any job or vying for your dreams. Please let it be clear that I commend Essena O’Neill for her bravery and respect her choice as a woman to do what makes her happy. And oh yea, I think being able to actually push the “delete account” button probably took a huge set of balls on her part so kudos there too. As I begin, please understand that this is my own opinion and none other, as I relate it to my personal experiences. Shall we continue?
After reading the first few articles that have been flowing into my inbox, my first thought was, this is sad. I didn’t feel empowered by her message, I didn’t want to delete my own Instagram account, and I didn’t feel like she even made the right choice for herself. At the ripe age of 19 , she would have a bright future with so many glistening opportunities that her impressive following would bring her. I just wanted to give her a hug. She was sucked into a world she felt she had no control, hid her insecurities within her photos, and wasn’t happy. Her passion for what originally made her feel great turned dark and quite disturbing. O’Neill discusses how she once took 100 shots of the same picture until she got it just right and even starved herself for others. So. Sad. Why was she doing something that didn’t make her happy in the first place? I don’t know how others feel and I don’t know what others do for their Instagram feeds, but I would never sit in front of my mirror and take 100 selfie’s until I got the right shot, I would never starve myself to make ANY amount of money, and I would never allow the effects of social media to start making me feel so much less than I am; in turn causing me to end my career. That would never end my career. What would end my career would be up to me, not up to someone on the other side not pressing a ‘like’ button, giving me validation in numbers on Instagram. You need to have thick skin if you’re going to be in this industry and it’s something I’ve had harsh realities about numerous times. I’ve gone from crying in closets at Barney’s when I was a Personal Shopper, to having the most discouraging weeks, and being told I’m not good enough to get certain meetings. It effin hurts. But you learn to stay strong and stay afloat, knowing that you are good enough to get that meeting.
And then there is the flip side; the side where I can relate to her frustration but in my own, unique way. I started So Lindsi three months ago when I got really agitated with the industry of “fashion blogging”. Every girl was doing the same thing and nothing was different. It was a diluted market that no longer made me feel good and I realized I didn’t want to compete with any of these girls who had hundreds and thousands of followers and likes anymore. Instead of ending my career, I did a 180 degree rebrand over the course of eight months, am now able to show my sense of humor and who I really am behind my photos, and produce content that is different and inspiring for people in a new, fresh way; one that has never been done before. Like many girls who are in the blogosphere (might I say, most), I don’t have a photographer boyfriend following me around, I don’t have an assistant right now, I don’t have anyone writing my articles or producing my content, and I am running six forms of social media every single day, all by myself. Of course, certain days get me so super stressed out and sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and drink wine all day, but even in those moments I can’t imagine just giving it all up like that, as Essena did. I post what makes me happy in hopes of inspiring others and if they don’t like it that’s OK, because I know I’m not defined by my numbers on Instagram, even though that is the hardest part of being on social. A person’s following instantly defines authenticity and talents in today’s society, when in fact, so much talent is being bypassed because not enough people are being given a chance.
On the the days when I get discouraged, I can remember what someone close to me in my life once said. “If Instagram was gone tomorrow and people didn’t have their following, where would they be? What would they do? You can go back to your career.” And this was a good point and it was totally eye opening. However, the number game isn’t going anywhere and social media is only getting more technically advanced, so for O’Neill it would have only gone up from here. Again, I respect her choice and her decision. That’s so good for her and she should only do what makes her happy! I just think it’s very sad that this young girl allowed something as shallow, so to speak, as Instagram take over her life in such a hurtful and negative way. Where would anyone be if they let mindless things get in the way of their passions? Nowhere. You need to be secure and fit to take the punch, not fall when knocked out. It saddens me that Essena had that happen; to allow something so mindless to hurt her inside so badly and to end a great career that brought her loads of success. I really feel for her. She’s so young. Can someone please give her a hug, a red lip, and a therapist?