The Perfect Selfie Is Bullsh*t: 3 Things To Remember When Instagram Makes You Feel Bad About Your Body

As Insta-famous teen Essena O'Neill deletes all her social media & shows what really goes into the 'perfect' selfie, we're taking a look at how to stop Instagram affecting your self esteem.

Essena O'Neill

18-year-old Australian Instagrammer Essena O’Neill had half a million followers before she decided to delete all of her social media accounts. Why? Because, in her words, her addiction to social media made her feel insecure and created a need for validation.

Before deleting her accounts, Essena re-captioned many of her photos to make a point about what goes into the perfect Insta snap. “NOT REAL LIFE,” reads one. “Took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals.


“Please like this photo,” reads another pic. “I put on makeup, curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewellery… Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps- just so I could feel some social approval from you.” THERE IS NOTHING REAL ABOUT THIS. #celebrityconstruct.”  


With an average of 28% of our day spent on social media scrolling through flawless no-make-up selfies, ab pics and bikini snaps, it’s little wonder that many of us find our self esteem takes a hit.

“I compare my nightly habit of scrolling down my Instagram feed to a form of self-torture,” Clare, 24, tells us. “Every single time I end up feeling bad about myself and my body, yet I keep going back for more. As someone who has always struggled with self esteem issues, seeing the level of perfection that exists on Instagram makes me convince myself I’m not attractive.”

Finding that Instagram is impacting on your body image? Here are three things to remember when it gets you down.

1. For every good selfie there are at least 20 ‘bad’ ones

In the highly edited world of Instagram, it’s not too often we’ll see a less than flawless selfie, but do we ever stop to consider what goes into that seemingly perfect snap? Strategic poses, a sucked in stomach, pushed up boobs and countless takes are just a few of the things Essena lists as a part of her snapping. Think of Instagram as someone else’s highlight reel; you don’t see the behind the scenes.

2. Likes don’t define you

Can a selfie capture what a deadly person you are or all of your amazing talents and traits? No, it can’t. Validation plays a big part in social media, and compulsively checking how those likes are racking up – or worse, wondering why your pics aren’t as popular as someone elses, is going to put a major drain on your self esteem. “Never again will I let a number define me,” says Essena. “IT SUFFOCATED ME.” Double taps don’t equate to self worth.

3. Self comparison sucks

Scrolling your feed thinking ‘why don’t I look like her?’. With so many flawless selfies it’s easy to see how an Instagram addiction can become a precursor for self loathing, and thanks to filters and editing apps, you’re always going to feel like you fall short of that seemingly perfect pic. Essena asks, “How can we see ourselves and our true purpose/talents if we are constantly viewing others? Many of us are in so deep we don’t realize [social media’s] delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives.” The lesson? Step away when it all gets too much.


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