THE Instagram model who quit social media earlier this month has spoken out about the dangerous dieting she endured for the sake of good photos.
While Essena O'Neill from Queensland ditched her massive followings declaring she was fed up with the "contrived sense of beauty" they displayed, she hasn't left the internet altogether.
On her new website, Let's be Game Changers, O'Neill has revealed the drastic lengths she went to in her quest for online fame.
In one of her latest videos, titled "You're My Inspiration", Essena talks about how she achieved her 'dream' body and the misguided praise she received from fans.
She said she would severely restrict her calorie intake by eating "really, really small meals," or skipping them completely.
She also revealed how she saved images of models on Pinterest and Tumblr for her phone's screensaver or added them to her 'inspiration' board alongside quotes that reinforced her drive.
"A lot of the time they were tanned with tight stomachs, firm breasts and nice slim thighs," she said.
"Thigh gaps were a big thing when I was younger."
She said she referred to the images to help her "be strong". "...strong to me at that time meant skipping meals. It meant eating as [little] as I could."
But with her young fan base telling her she was their fitness inspiration, O'Neill says she realised the potential damage of promoting such an image.
"It's very heartbreaking to think that maybe young girls would have done the same thing to people before me," she said.
"That whole cycle of 'love yourself' that a pretty, beautiful model is telling you that...Come on, I can't be the only one seeing the insanity in that. How easy is it for me to upload a picture like this and say, 'Morning run, breakfast smoothie, have a good day'? They were the captions I was putting up. I'd be like, 'love your body, treat your body with respect'. But my self-love was just how I looked in images. I personally didn't have a relationship with health and fitness that wasn't aesthetics based."
She says while other fitness bloggers genuinely encouraged followers to be healthy, her efforts to get the perfect shot were far from healthy.
"There are so many inspirational, beautiful, loving, full-of-life beings that don't meet these impossible standards. And they deserve to feel beautiful."
She said she could not call herself an "inspiration for meeting society's impossible standards for women."
The 14 minute video includes a shot of O'Neill aged around 15 in a pair of tiny shorts and bright sports bra. She explains: "No one knows the reality behind the images - it's just an image."
Since her departure from social media - where she had over half a million followers on Instagram, 250,000 YouTube subscribers and around 60,000 Snapchat contacts - she has deleted around 2,000 painstakingly curated images, giving up her life as a 'social media celebrity'.
She has said she hopes to spark a movement that gives people the opportunity to be free to grow and learn away from the sense that an individual's value is determined by their physical attributes.
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