Ask me what the most important virtue is in life and it’s an easy answer. It’s courage.
It takes courage in this world to chase your dreams when you’re surrounded by people who have no faith in you.
It takes courage to bounce back after a humiliating moment or when life gives you every reason to stay down on your knees. It takes courage as a bystander to stand up to bullies.
And it takes courage – a hell of a lot of courage – to be your real, imperfect, hot mess self in a world that pressures you to be anything but.
This week a Queensland teenage girl – Essena O’Neill – did something incredibly courageous. She dismantled her entire life; walking away from a slew of lucrative sponsorship and endorsement deals with the announcement she’d been peddling a lie.
You can watch a clip of Essena’s announcement here (the whole video is available on YouTube):
Up until just last week, Essena O’Neill was one of social media’s darlings. I’d never heard of her – truth be told. Turns out I was living under a rock. At just 19 O’Neill had the type of influence and sway over other teenagers that makes marketers go weak at the knees and reach into their pockets. (We’re talking 600,000 followers on Instagram alone and 200,00 on YouTube and Tumblr. To call the young woman popular is an understatement. )
So what was so special about the Coolum teen? What was she DOING on her social media feed? Nothing much except selling perfection. Take a look at Essena’s Instagram feed and it’s like flicking through a frickin’ SEED catalogue. The perfection is dazzling and dizzying in equal measure. There’s Essena casually looking at the ocean after a run – perfect hair, perfect abs, perfect thigh gap. Essena ready for a night out looking – you know, PERFECT. There’s Essena laughing casually at a joke. Sipping a drink. Doing yoga. Fishing! Shopping! Contemplating life. And all of it perfect.