A glamorous woman reclines against the kitchen bench in a skin-tight designer dress as shiny and bright as the jewels that drip from her fingers. Preparing a festive meal for the household, she pouts for our cameras before languidly reaching for a packet of crisps, holding them elegantly aloft … and pouring the lot decadently into her open mouth.
Delicately picking stray crisps from her heaving cleavage she furtively pops them into her mouth, chewing frantically before breaking into a raucous chuckle and yelling “Christmas!” delightedly.
Welcome to the world of Celeste Barber, where fashion meets physical comedy in the social media age.
Less than five years ago, Celeste was an under the radar Aussie actor and comedian who had appeared in series including All Saints and Home and Away. Today, however, the 37-year-old mum of two and stepmother to two more is fast becoming as world famous as the women she parodies on her Instagram account.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Cindy Crawford, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and, of course, the entire Kardashian clan are just a few A-listers who have seen their high-glamour posts and videos hilariously recreated by Celeste in a far less picture perfect style. Those comical snaps launched her into sell-out US tours, a televised comedy special, a collaboration with fashion designer Tom Ford for his 2019 Spring/Summer show, a best-selling autobiography and now a children’s book.
“In short, I take inappropriate half-naked photos of myself and put them online,” she simply sums up the job which has now become so intensive she’s hired a full-time assistant.
“It’s a bit of a dig at celebrity culture. I do parodies of quite famous photos. I like taking the mickey out of myself so I always thought it would be funny to see what it looked like when a normal person did fancy people things.”
It all started, Celeste tells The Weekly, when she and her older sister, Olivia, were laughing at pictures of celebrities and models posing in what, for most people, would be implausible situations. Some were bent like finely tuned contortionists into ridiculous yoga poses; others used household objects to mask their obvious nudity and one – posted by social media queen Kim Kardashian – had her oiled up and underwear clad lounging atop an inexplicable pile of dirt. The pair was in stitches and it sparked an idea in Celeste’s head. What, she mused, would it look like if a regular person tried to emulate these scenarios?
Challenge accepted, she thought. And soon a photograph of Celeste lying on a dirt pile in a pair of granny panties and a slightly grubby bra, juxtaposed against the Kim Kardashian original, broke the proverbial internet, gaining her over 10,000 followers in a day and swiftly launching her to instant Insta-fame.
“I’m an overnight sensation 15 years in the making, that’s how I see it,” she laughs. “I’m very grateful that it’s gone as well as it has. The people I parody are on board and they’re very kind. And, let’s face it, no one looks worse in those photos than I do.
“The way I look has never been the most interesting part of me and I’ve always known that. That’s why I see social media stuff and go, ‘Okay, cool, that’s never going to be me and that’s fine’. I’m lucky. I want to see stuff that’s funny and I know I’m good at funny. I’m happy to be good at what I know I’m good at.”
While many worry about the effect social media has on body positivity, Celeste has found herself an unwitting poster girl for those looking for better role models online. It’s a perk of the job she relishes, if not one she set out meaning to provide. And it’s definitely formed the genesis for her latest project, a children’s book called Celeste The Giraffe Loves To Laugh which she’s dedicated to her two sons, Lou, eight, and Buddy, five.
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