Are We Trying too Hard to Look “Effortless?”

Looking effortless on social media requires one thing: effort.  Recently, Essena O’Neill, an Australian teenager with nearly half a million Instagram followers, made the news when she quit social media because she felt as though her entire life revolved around getting the perfect picture. O’Neill,  denouncing social media, brought up an interesting question: What is the truth behind perfect pictures?

You know the type of picture that makes you stop with a combination of envy and awe. For me, it’s usually a picture of a girl sporting pristine makeup, a trendy outfit, and a nonchalant expression. [su_pullquote]

This life of ‘effortless’ beauty is not effortless.

[/su_pullquote]Of course, I will leave a complimentary comment, as I was raised better than to be rude to someone just because I am envious of them. However, the picture will leave me wondering to myself, How does she get her eyebrows to look like that? Where does she shop? And how on earth does she look so perfect without even trying?

Essena O’Neill used to post enviable pictures, and now she’s admitting that all her pictures required a lot of effort. On her new website,, she has made a series of videos explaining the truth behind her pictures. In one video, entitled ‘Effortless,’ O’Neill talks about this picture, one in which she appears to not even realize a picture was being taken.

“This life of ‘effortless’ beauty is not effortless,” Essena explains, “My makeup was quite heavy, actually, and the lighting made me look quite tan when I actually wasn’t…there was probably a hundred pictures and this was my favorite and they edited it so it looked effortless.”

The former social media darling admitting how much she tried to look like she was not trying has brought on some similar confessions. Kylie Jenner’s online presence, despite how controversial it is, has earned her 43.3 million followers on Instagram. Her account is riddled with paparazzi candids that capture her intricate makeup or insane outfits, but she does not attempt to hide the fact that she undergoes a lot of preparation to look good for the paparazzi.

On her new app, Kylie has posted several videos revealing her makeup routine, one that requires an array of products that, according to Cosmopolitan reporter Brooke Shunatona, cost upwards of $3,750 (maybe that’s why she charges fans $2.99 a month to have her app). She has also disclosed that she has a special lighting set-up, for the sole purpose of taking mirror selfies, in a room she has dubbed her “Glam Room.” So, while it still may be hard to resist falling down the rabbit hole of Insta-stalking Kylie (and talking myself out of buying all the lipstick she promotes), the blow on my self-esteem is considerably less when I remember how much effort she has put into every picture.

Ultimately, while it may be difficult to remember when you feel insecure, social media is mainly people posting pictures of their high moments. This makes sense, seeing as social media would be pretty bleak if everyone only posted pictures that made them feel insecure rather than confident. The key is to remind yourself of that simple truth, rather than to convince yourself that anyone is truly capable of looking amazing 24/7.