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'White saviour' Barbie takes shots at the narcissistic elite on Instagram

Sick of society's self-obsession? Get comic relief by following comedian Celeste Barber and Barbie Savior's satirical Instagram accounts

09 September 2018 - 00:00 By Andrea Nagel
Parody Insta account @BarbieSavior sees Barbie in Africa running an NGO that provides drinking water to people.
Parody Insta account @BarbieSavior sees Barbie in Africa running an NGO that provides drinking water to people.
Image: Instagram/@barbiesavior


WHAT: Satire on Western society's self-obsession.

WHO: Australian comedian Celeste Barber and Barbie, who thinks she can save Africans.

WHY CARE: Because they poke fun at the outrageous levels of narcissism in the world today.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Instagram: @celestebarber and @barbiesaviour.


Instagram is the devil. Yes it is! Primarily, its function is to make us feel dissatisfied with our own holidays, meals, parties and jobs, and nauseatingly envious of the glamourous existences of school friends, rich cousins, colleagues, exes and associates. But there are ways to make Instagram relevant and meaningful in your life - and the best of these is parody.

There's nothing quite like Instagram as a vehicle for it, because the app has been commandeered by the pillars of society's narcissistic elite. It's littered with accounts of stars and models posing in their underwear in heels with chickens, or in fridges, or on yacht railings.

Celebrities, wannabe celebrities and our local brand of wannabe wannabe celebrities have no shame when it comes to posting outrageously self-aggrandising shots - laying themselves open to satire.


A few years ago, a fantastic account, @socalitybarbie, parodied the Instagram-vacuous for their pseudo-soulfulness. Barbie was positioned in various (often nature-inspired) situations with #blessed; #authentic; #humble added to the posts as well as comments satirising the millennial's love of the outdoors, single-origin coffee and hipster hangouts.

"I created the account to make fun of the people who were using the 'liveauthentic' hashtag on Instagram. All their pictures looked alike to me and I couldn't tell them apart any more so it just didn't seem all that authentic," said the account's creator, Darby Cisneros. Unfortunately, her last post was at the end of 2017.

Since then a new satirical Barbie Instagram account has popped up, @barbiesavior. This time Barbie is in Africa running an NGO that provides drinking water to people.

"Harnessing broken white hearts to provide water to those in Africa, one tear at a time," the organisation's tagline reads. The account was started by two friends who were tired of the acclaim of the "white saviour" on social media. It has over 158,000 followers.

"It's hard to pinpoint the irony at times in real life ... the wildly self-centred person veiled as the self-sacrificing saint," one of the founders told the Huffington Post, adding that they're also trying to shine a light on the people who fetishise and over-sentimentalise the experience of visiting Africa: the people who turn smiling African school kids into photo-ops, who talk about how "happy everybody is even though they're so poor!" and who never seem to specify exactly what country in Africa they actually visited (because, you know, Africa is a country).

"The attitude that Africa needs to be saved from itself, by Westerners, can be traced back to colonialism and slavery," said the makers of Barbie Savior. "It's such a simplified way to view an entire continent."

CELESTE BARBER @celestebarber

But Barbie isn't the only one making the most of vacuous Instagram postings to say something about the kind of people who frequently use the app and have hundreds of thousands of followers.

Also in on the game is Australian comic Celeste Barber, who's turned her Instagram feed into a funny tribute or acerbic mockery depending on your sense of humour, riffing off celebrity Instagrams of unprecedented silliness. She has more than 4.6-million followers.

"I got miffed with fashionistas thinking they are better than others," she said. Models posing with pizza on their breasts, or doing yoga on a surfboard in the pool or closing the boot of the car with the perfect ballet développé ... Barber shows us what it would look like if any normal woman did the same, and the result is hilarious.

"Some celebrities on Instagram seem to think we non-rich, non-privileged people are idiots and believe that what they are posting is real," Barber told BuzzFeed Life. "I wanted to try to show how ridiculous it would be for a 'normal' person to recreate some of these photos."