Ever feel like celebrities on Instagram take themselves just a little bit too seriously? That, perhaps, all those perfectly posed posts are trying just a bit too hard? Aussie comedian Celeste Barber certainly thinks so, and so she set out to deflate celebrity egos everywhere with some snaps of her own.
Barber almost managed to pull off Victoria Beckham’s extraordinary manicure technique – albeit with a little less grace. Because we all strike a sexy yoga pose when painting our nails, right, Vic? As hilarious as Barber’s parodies are though, they aren’t just for fun. She’s also got an important point to make.
The comedian is determined to demonstrate that flawless, seemingly casual celebrity selfies aren’t really all that casual at all. Rihanna’s accessories in this glam selfie, for example, probably cost thousands of dollars. It’s a look Barber can’t quite recreate with her plastic specs.
And the comedian’s catalog of poses demonstrates, more importantly, that most women don’t look like supermodels. What’s more, even supermodels don’t look like supermodels all of the time.
“I am very pro-woman and I get frustrated when people say you should be or act a certain way,” Barber told the U.K.’s Daily Mail in 2015. But the comedian added that her photo project shouldn’t be taken too seriously, either.
And Barber, who also stars in the ABC sitcom How Not to Behave, had no idea that her posts would become so popular on Instagram. “I didn’t really care for how it would be perceived,” she said. “I just started it for my friends who I knew would love it.” Now, the Aussie has 746,000 followers who love it too.
Not that the comic cares about her follower count; she very much doesn’t. Earlier in 2016, in fact, she told The Huffington Post Australia, “Having almost 700,000 followers is great, [but] it also means nothing! I haven’t earned a cent off it, not that money is everything, but career-wise being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly.”
But while Barber might not be raking in the money, her celebrity copy-cats are certainly raking in the fans. This uncomfortable-looking parody of Beyoncé, for example, racked up 34,100 likes on Instagram.
And while this picture of Kendall Jenner’s artistically arranged hairstyle ranks as the most liked Instagram photo ever, Barber’s equally creative effort still got a very respectable 12,200 likes. And when it was reposted, it got 18,700 more.
Yes, Barber’s recreations show plenty of artistic talent themselves. Don’t have stylish tattoos like Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose? No problem – just draw your own with a marker.
It might seem like the comic doesn’t like celebrities very much, but actually she has a great deal of respect for the women she parodies. “I don’t want to be bashing people like Kim K, I actually think ‘good on her,’” she told Time magazine in 2015. “I think she is a smart businesswoman.”
Barber, is, however, very much against super-affluent celebrities who are out of touch with the rest of us. And she has a point. Striking a pose in a private swimming pool isn’t something we all get to do, Karlie Kloss.
And it isn’t just female celebrities who fall victim to Barber’s razor-sharp wit either. Male celebs can be just as ludicrous with their selfies. After all, who the heck randomly poses with a sharp knife in their mouth? Justin Bieber, of course.
“People are so obsessed with celebrities and celebrities seem to be so obsessed with portraying everyday people,” Barber told ABC in August 2015. She’s right. But how many celebrities really, honestly, #wokeuplikethis?
Barber’s own hashtag, indeed, is much more fun. The quirky impersonator tags all her recreations with #celestechallengeaccepted, throwing in the name of the celebrity and a couple of pithy comments for good measure.
“Chillin at the beach with the family, some wine, a camera crew and a drone,” Barber wrote under this Blac Chyna-inspired post. The brilliantly executed photo exposes just how staged these celebrity uploads can be.
Barber also called Glee’s Lea Michele out on this not-so-natural poolside pose. The comedian tagged the spoof, “Oh man, I fell asleep in the pool AGAIN, but don’t worry guys I woke up in time to put the perfect filter on my (staged) photo and post it out to you guys.”
So how do Barber’s celebrity targets feel about being made fun of? Actually, some famous faces seem to be seeing the funny side. Possibly because, as Barber told People magazine, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
“Kris Jenner did a shout-out, which was hilarious. She reposted it on her Facebook page and said she admitted that even she thought they were funny,” Barber told The Huffington Post. “And Cindy Crawford, when I did one of her, posted a little smiley face.”
Even better, it seems that Barber has succeeded in challenging the way we perceive social media. “I get a lot of really positive feedback,” Barber added. “Like, ‘Thanks for making me not feel so s**t about myself.’” Sometimes body positivity can be found in the most unexpected places.