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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Exposing Myself, Essena ONeill Style

Since this Essena ONeill thing has gone viral, I thought I would expose myself in the same way that she did. You know, by giving you a behind the scenes look at what makes my most popular Instagram shots truly great. Though I only have 11.5K followers, a good 550K behind Essena (makes all my hard work seem paltry!), I am not immune to all of the hard work necessary to get that perfect Insta shot. I mean, like Essena, I am only one person and I can only be so perfect for so long. So let's get real.

Let's examine:

Firstly, I found out what my most popular Instagram shots were through an app called Sponsta. Sponsta allows those of us who are Instafamous (*ahem*) to find companies to sponsor us. I mean, I have to be real, guys. I will sometimes accept money for Instagram shots....but isn't that part of the livelihood of blogging? Anyway, let's examine how soul sucking it was to get these most liked and validated shots.

Total Likes: 267

Real backstory: I was walking my dog in a moment between rain (as it always is in England). I saw that the neighbors hadn't raked their leaves yet. I was wearing my new boots, so I snapped a photo of my feet. Then we went on for our walk. I spent about 5 laboring minutes in VSCO and then Instagram for the perfect filter. 

Likes: 217

Real backstory: This was for a post I did for Pawesome Box, in which they had the audacity to give me a free box to review. I kind of cruelly dangled this in front of my dog and took a picture before he ate it. And then he enjoyed the rest of his treats. He really did enjoy the box. Thanks, Pawesome! 

Likes: 221
Real Backstory: Actually none. I pulled it off of and gave them credit.

Likes: 214
Real Backstory: I made cupcakes for this blog post. Then I took a picture of them with my pancake lens on my DSLR. It probably took me another 5 minutes to upload it to my phone, edit it in VSCO and then get it up on Instagram. 

Likes: 235

Real Backstory: I was getting ready to go to a birthday party and was super excited I got my extensions to blend (though they didn't stay that way all night, REAL TALK). I had trouble taking the hoodie off afterward and putting my party dress on, though.

Likes: 262
Real Backstory: My boyfriend is going to be an uncle, so I bought these for the baby. I thought they were really cute, so I put them on my tiny fur rug that I use for photos. I put it by the front door, because that's where we get the best natural light. I think I just used my phone. I get paid if someone downloads Shopstyle's version of and "likes" the photo, but only a few cents. I don't have enough followers for and not many people have the knockoff version. I think I've gotten maybe about 5 pence from this photo. Also, the baby's mother saw this photo just before she got the presents. :( I should have been stealthier. 

Likes: 210

Real Backstory: I was staying at this hotel in Manchester for my real person job that was kind of quirky, so I took some pictures of the lobby/restaurant area while the bar staff kind of looked at me funny. I also felt really sick while I was taking these pictures, just so YOU KNOW, mostly because I was still waiting for my surgery. I edited this on VSCO and posted it on my blog and on Instagram. 

Okay, so obviously this post is a bit of a kick in the teeth to Essena. I'm not sure if her whole thing was a clever scam or she really thinks blogging is ~super fake~, but I still don't get all the applause over it. Yes, social media can be contrived, yes it is a highlight real of everyone's lives. I don't think anyone actually thought Essena's Instagram pictures were all candids or that it was actually what her daily life looked like, did they? 

If you look through your Instagram feeds, what kind of people do you follow? Do you follow people who are showing the good, bad and ugly of their daily lives, or do you follow more aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts? Why or why not? 

As with anything, the media and product marketers want to get your attention. They want to figure out where you hang out most and they want to put their products in a place where it is most likely to get seen. That's why in these past few years, bloggers and Instagrammers and social influencers have become some of the go-to people to help get their products out there.

But here's the thing: you can choose if you want to do that or not. No, it isn't going to bring you happiness, but nothing is if you're not happy with yourself. You also have total control over the brands you work with. No one put a gun to Essena's head and told her she had to shill these products, she agreed to it. And personally, I only work with brands that I would use anyway. I don't recommend products that I've never tried (even though some brands will oddly try and get you to do that). And as I've grown, I've been turning down offers I just don't believe in in order to maintain trust and integrity with my audience and readership. 

So, what's your take on this Essena stuff? I know by now it is a bit of old news, but as the grandma on the Internet trudging along late, I was curious as to your take. 

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  1. I love love love love love this post. Because every time I see her story pop up it kind of annoys me... Everyone thinks she's some kind of hero for exposing how IG works, but the way she describes it is not how it is for most of us... I think it says something more about her (like how she's kind of awful-re the post about making her friend take a hundred pictures of her at the beach and yelling at her because she looked too fat) than it does social media in general honestly...And if she'd really wanted to ditch social media she'd have done so quietly and disappeared, not made a big ordeal about it.

    1. Agreed. However, because she is so young, I do give her a slight pass. But it is still really overdramatic. She also seemed to quit before she secured other employment, which isn't really something to applaud. In real life, you have to have a source for money before you just quit your job! x

  • Cheryl van den BergNovember 10, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    I actually did a post like this last year and I will do a new one later this month in response to Essenia as well. I agree with you that so much on IG is staged, but who really thinks otherwise? IG bloggers aren't the first to stage a shot. Photogs and mags do it all the time. I don't think it's a big deal.

    1. 100% agreed. Every shot is staged. It's not like your wedding pictures or school pictures, etc. are natural! x

  • I have to admit I really enjoy reading the backstory behind the pictures! Its like taking a peep into someones life I enjoyed this post a lot!!
    Ps. your dog is super cute x

    1. Thanks Georgia! I like reading about how better Instagrammers than myself do things as well. It's a fascinating insight. And any time someone compliments my dog, they are in my good books! ;) xx

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