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Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

Author's note:

The girls I interviewed asked for their names to be changed. 

Author's note:

The girls I interviewed asked for their names to be changed. 

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Chapter Four - Me

It is said that the beautiful, fit, and slim body type portrayed in most advertising is naturally possessed by only 5% of American females. Models themselves run through the gauntlet of dieting and exercising so that they maintain their “perfect” body. The ball and chain of social pressure is tied around their neck, but nevertheless, they are tossed into the ocean of life and expected to swim.
Naturally, they often drown.
Essena O’Neill was an Instagram model. She had over 600,000 followers and every picture showed a smiling, happy, young Australian whose life, it seemed, couldn’t get any better.
But then one day she snapped.
In a video that quickly gained global attention, she confesses to the world, her face makeup-free but streaked with tears and her hair disheveled, that everything she portrayed herself to be was fake. Her Instagram description now reads, “Social Media is not real life.”
“I was miserable. I had it ‘all,’ and I was miserable because when you let yourself be defined by numbers, you let yourself be defined by something that is not pure, that is not real, and that is not love.”
She then deleted over 2,000 photos from her account that she felt were only self-promotional. She changed captions on other pictures to describe the real story behind the shots. One particular caption next to a shot of her posing on a morning-lit beach reads:
“Not real life. Only reason we went to the beach this morning was to shoot these bikinis because the company paid me and also I look good to society’s current standards. I was born and won the genetic lottery. Why else would I have uploaded this photo? . . . To make a change? Look hot? Sell something? I thought I was helping young girls get fit and healthy. But I only realized at 19 that placing any amount of self worth on your physical form is so limiting. I could have been writing, exploring, playing, anything beautiful and real… Not trying to validate my worth though a bikini shot with no substance.”
I myself often waste hours, late at night, safe under a blanket with empty candy wrappers spread around me, more being emptied by the minute, scrolling through endless image of perfect people, perfect people who hide their imperfect lives and broken hearts behind flawless skin and wide smiles. They torture themselves, not for themselves, but for a blood-sucking culture. 
And yet I am insanely jealous of them. Jealous of their pasted smiles and crying nights, their empty stomachs and burning muscles. Why? Because they have clear skin and a flat stomach, and to a shallow girl, that often seems to be worth any amount of suffering.

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