F our years before Blake Lively realized that deleting her old posts could be a great source of publicity; four years before Caroline Calloway burst into consciousness or Tavi Gevinson carefully unpacked her own efforts to self-brand youngsters, Essen O'Neill deleted her Instagram account. The Australian influencer has amassed 600,000+ followers. She was paid $ 2000 for a #sponcon post.
O'Neill grew up on Instagram. She joined the platform at the age of 1
He was smiling in his publications. She posed in paradise. She was thin and white, often in bikinis, with long, perfectly stretched blond hair. Then in a tearful video, she stated, "This is not real." She was unhappy. She was worried about her body. Despite her cute outfits, she was broken.
The confessor shot her outside her niche community and into the main stream. The number of her followers ticked over one million.
In her book "The Mirror Trick", Jia Tolentino writes: "The statement against Instagram is now a predictable part of the model / influence social life cycle: a beautiful young woman who goes to great pains to maintain and fulfill her own beauty eventually, the audience will post a note on Instagram revealing that Instagram has become a bottomless pit of personal insecurity and anxiety. She will take a week off from the social network and then, almost always, she will continue exactly as before. ”
Except, perhaps, not exactly as before. O & # 39; Neill was one of the first influencers to make such recognition. For the many influential and famous personalities who followed her lead role, this dose of "reality" earned them new attention and waves of new followers. The pause allowed them to focus on the hottest commodity on the platform: authenticity.
The moment of 'getting real' can act as an aid to rinse the social media machine. It relaxes the accumulated rhythm around the ethics of self-promotion, only to reveal itself digitally, which is even more brilliant.
It was not until his childhood that Neill came up with the concept for that moment. But her architect never completed her project.
Unlike the influencers Tolentino describes, O & # 39; Neill did not continue exactly as before. According to a former classmate, she ceased to exist. After its initial viral moment, O'Neill created a website and began collecting donations for its content so that it would no longer have to make sponsored posts. She had a book deal in the works. A few months later, in 2016, to call out a "scam", she shut down the website. It disappeared digitally, and the book never materialized.
In total, O & # 39; Neill raised about $ 10,000 for his new content project. In an interview with vlogger and pop culture critic Tiffany Ferg, O & # 39; Neil recently explained that she donated some of the money to charity and the rest spent on rent.
Now, at 23, she's back. "There was something so special about what I had online and I want it again," she told Ferg. As for what she did in the years to come, “I did a lot of shitty work. I was struggling.
Her new project is a website: The Body Within. She is inspired by the long captions and sense of community she once found on Tumblr. A podcast is coming.
Although O & # 39; Neill contacted Guardian Australia when the site launched, she for the moment declined an interview, saying, "The authority within my message is now."
The message goes beyond simple aphorisms such as " be kind to your body "or" treasure of true friendships ". After falling heavily into his built-up Self, spending five years in "that endless cycle of consumption," then wandering in the digital wilderness for four years, O'Neal seems to have become a materialist.
Not the kind who accepts clothes and jewelry for free – as Marx reads.
"We understand the" good life "as the dominant narrative … We believe that these ideas are driven by society through a dominant digital culture that supports and sustains the capitalist elite … young, beautiful, positive, inspirational individuals who are VERY successful at the moment, "her website says." The neoliberal 'good life' is a facade / individual journey and literally kills / enslaves the rest of the world. "
Embraces, collectivist ideals, reflections on YouTube alienation, Delusions quotes and studies n and polyamory, her website also refers to a Patreon page where subscribers can support the project.
O & # 39; Neal insists to Ferg that neither her disappearance nor their reappearance have been calculated. – Marketing scheme? – she said. "Yes, just make a fury for your deepest feelings?" I would never recommend an emotional outbreak online. "
The Reading Authority Within the senses, it's a bit like getting into a left worm on YouTube or a blurry conversation in the early hours of the morning. It is disorienting, stylized and far from the brand. In an interview with Fergh, O & # 39; Neil was open about her mental health struggles and the difficult advent of "the insane pleasure of making money that way." You work at a minimum wage and you get paid to promote a sweet vegan product, it's different. It's a different world. "
Many young women who grew up on Instagram now question the enormous role they play in their lives. As a result of this interrogation, they use the platform differently.
O & # 39; Neill goes on and on She is vulnerable in a non-makeup and grainy candy way, and unlike many influential people who share their "real" moment, O'Neill does not illustrate her digital return using her body. except for the photo in her biography, she did not publish a picture of herself.
and a long, personal caption with a personal photo is a kind of trick on the hand. Followers may appreciate your candor or you may stick for the same reason they came in the first place: to look at the pictures.
Influencer marketing studies suggest that we want more authenticity than those we follow. O & # 39; Neill wants to join the community while rejecting its core currency. She tells the world to listen, not to watch. And what she says is far from tasty. Somehow he dares: how much authenticity can you handle?