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EXCLUSIVE: Celeste Barber on backlash, body-shaming and her big new challenge

"I’m alright with ruffling feathers, I really am."
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Celeste Barber readily admits that her latest venture – as a lingerie model and designer of her own range in collaboration with Bras N Things – would please her younger self.

“Little Celeste would be stoked that I’m doing this,” she tells WHO. “I think about her sometimes and I reckon she’d be like, ‘Well done! Go you!’”

It’s another unexpected life change for Barber, 39, who lives in Tweed Heads with husband Api Robin and their two sons (she’s also a stepmum to two older daughters).Since she began posting pictures and videos to Instagram in 2015, mocking celebrity posts, she’s gained 8.5 million followers – many of whom are the same celebs she takes the mickey out of. She also famously raised $50 million for the Rural Fire Service after 2019’s Black Summer bushfires, and has recently completed filming a musical comedy featuring music by Dolly Parton called Seriously Red alongside Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.

While Barber is almost universally loved, some felt a recent Instagram post, in which she parodied an Emily Ratajkowski post, missed the mark though. “A lot has changed in my life over recent years, but I haven’t changed at all,” says Barber, who initially trained as an actress – she played paramedic Bree Matthews in All Saints for four years – before embracing her comic talents. Here, she opens up to WHO on her new campaign, what her “hot husband” thinks about her fame, that recent furore and what’s next …

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Celeste Barber has launched her own range with Bras N Things. (Credit: Bras N Things)

You’ve modelled for and created your own lingerie range. What did you want to include?

It was really important to me to create a range that allows women to be who they want to be. So there’s the sexy stuff and there’s really comfy stuff. I also really wanted to include bralettes in the range because women who have scars on their chest don’t want to wear underwire bras. This I learned when recovering from heart surgery when I was 25.

You pose in your underwear and swimwear all the time on Instagram. Did shooting this campaign feel different?

This is going to sound weird but I really don’t like having my photo taken. I know I’ve now made somewhat of a career out of it, but taking the mickey out of myself is all in good fun. Shooting a campaign is different. I wasn’t nervous about being shot in my underwear and I didn’t do any special preparation, I just tried to be across the two 10-hour shoot days!

You didn’t hit up any of your celebrity model friends for tips?

No. I like to think I channel Helena Christensen and Cindy Crawford in all aspects of my life, so I didn’t need any tips.

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Celeste admits she was “nervous” to shoot her campaign. (Credit: Bras N Things)

Your hot husband must be pretty stoked to be married to a lingerie model?

Actually, doing this hasn’t won me any extra brownie points at home! Api’s always supportive of what I do and with this campaign, he’s just been like, “Oh, here’s another excellent thing you’re doing.” He’s awesome.

A lot has changed for you over the past few years. What has been the hardest thing to deal with?

I haven’t changed at all, nothing about me has changed. I’ve never seen myself as someone who people would be interested in and now that they are, it does shift your focus a bit. People are actually really nice to me though. Like, if I’m at the supermarket, people are so kind to me. It’s really lovely and it’s restored my faith in humanity.

But you recently faced backlash over your Em Ratajkowski post. Did that surprise you?

You say backlash, but I think it became a bigger deal for other people than it did for me. People who’ve followed me for years know what I do. I poke fun at the multibillion-dollar fashion and beauty industries, and celebrity culture, which makes money out of body-shaming women. Nothing has changed my end, in terms of who I post about or what I say. Sometimes people will say one of my posts is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen and sometimes they don’t and that’s fine. I’m alright with ruffling feathers, I really am.

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Celeste and her “Hot Husband” Api. (Credit: Instagram)

You’ve been almost universally loved since you became famous, so how did you move past that?

I’ll just keep moving forward, trying to make people laugh and to be as inclusive as I can in everything that I do.

How do your children handle your fame?

I’m the world’s most embarrassing mum to them. Like, even if I’m dropping them off at school and my music’s too loud, they’re like, “Turn it down, Mum!” They’re getting older and they do get what I do more now though, and they do think some of it’s cool.

You worked with Aussie actress Rose Byrne on that film. What was she like?

She’s one of those fabulously annoying people who’s lovely, funny, smart and gorgeous. I’ve spoken to her and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley about the rules – you can be funny or hot, but you’re not allowed to be both. Stop it!

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“I’m alright with ruffling feathers, I really am.” (Credit: Instagram)

You’re turning 40 next May. How will you celebrate?

I turn 40 just before I start my Fine, Thanks comedy tour so before I head out on the road, I’m hoping there’ll be a party on some sort of boat. I’ll be one of those girls! I’ll party for a good 20 minutes then go to bed in my own Bras N Things Big Love PJs!

Shop Celeste Barber’s range in store and online at brasandthings.com.

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