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supportive dad, sister (Isis) and brother (Tristan) and especially her mum Jules O’Neill who is the pioneer of Body Consciousness were there to support her along the way). “I’m privileged to have a really supportive home. We are really open and share with each other rather than cover up things or be secretive. It’s about saying, ‘This is who I am’ and it’s so rewarding to feel like you and your parents are on the same page. Some of my friends thought it was weird that I was sharing certain things with my parents but then they started to do the same with their parents.” Once she started to see that she had a choice about her mind-set and how she wished to live, her world changed. She started to open up to herself and others more and more. She naturally started to exercise for fun and from a place of choice and enjoyed food; eating moderately healthy. Then at sixteen years of age she decided to share her experiences and interests via Tumblr a social media site, and people her own age responded to her realness. This in turn has empowered her to keep sharing her message with more and more people and she now has a combined social media Instagram and Tumblr following of over 400,000+ …but the most important thing for Essena is she just loves sharing and being herself! She replies to hundreds of emails every day, manages all the sites herself and finds time for her school work. She has also caught the eye of sports fashion label ‘Lorna Jane’ and many other labels which she endorses. “For awhile on social media I started sharing about health and fitness because that was socially acceptable and the norm. Thanks to my mum, I decided to really talk about what I really wanted to talk about and that’s when I got excited and motivated and I feel better when I’m talking about real things that I’m passionate about. Mum said to me, ‘All you can do is be yourself’ so I feel better being open about my experiences and personal growth,” she said. Essena has so many hopes and dreams and says when she leaves school she would like to study psychology and nutrition and transfer to New York for a year to study in 2016. She is a new breed of consciousness and her uniqueness is a refreshing change for the world…

What are the biggest concerns for young people?

essenaoneill.tumblr.com

Essena with her mum Jules O’Neill

I used to think body image was the biggest concern for young people but now I think the core concern is, “feeling accepted and belonging”. That covers everything else like body image, relationships problems, school issues etc. Young people are not being taught to look within themselves. It’s a consumerbased society where if you get the thing you desire then you think you can be happy rather than looking within. It’s not talked about very often. We can start thinking… What is going to make me feel fulfilled? Personal development and selfawareness is something I’d like to encourage. That’s what we should be targeting. It’s okay to feel lonely and down sometimes and it’s okay if you acknowledge the place you are in and stay present with it (rather than thinking OMG what’s happening to me) so you accept where you are at. If you look too much into the future sometimes it can get overwhelming. I also find personally, I like to find something I can do in the moment to feel better and not make it worse than it already is, or if not in that moment then the next day.

How do you deal with judgements? You are going to get judged sometimes for what you do… it is scary sometimes to feel vulnerable. I’m exposed to hateful comments daily but you know what… to be open and accepting of those is all you can do. When you are open to yourself those comments can’t get to you. Everything becomes an opportunity for growth rather than a criticism.

A few of Essena’s favourite things: • Walks in nature and mountain climbing • Yummy vegan dishes and experimenting with raw food • Living near the beach on the Sunshine Coast • Raising awareness about animal protection issues and health • I love movies… especially crying at movies • Not weighing myself for over a year

Holistic Bliss | APRIL 2014 |

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Holistic bliss april vol 56  

Australia's premier holistic lifestyle magazine created on the Sunshine Coast