What Happens When Everyday People Re-Create Iconic Fashion Ads

A diverse cast of non-models takes the challenge of posing in high-fashion ads for the first time.

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We grew up surrounded by the beauty standards of high fashion, so we wanted to re-create some of our favorite ads ourselves and see what it's really like to be a model for the day. Check out the video of our experience:

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Rocco: I felt awkward and sexy all at once. After seeing it, I was surprised to see my body looked better than I usually think it does. As a trans person, I almost never see myself reflected in mainstream media, especially advertisements. I am virtually invisible to the mainstream and when my life or my body are considered, it is usually in a negative light. All of this can lead to many layers of body dysphoria and dysmorphia. In the process of re-creating an underwear ad, I think I had to face and confront those layers of body hate. If we lived in a world that showed us all different types of bodies, I wonder how my expectations or desire for a "perfect" body would shift.

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Candace: It was strange to live out my middle school dream: being that Abercrombie model everyone wanted to be so badly. It was so much fun, but definitely hot as hell in a fun and grossly sweaty way. It was nice to see my body type in an ad — the not skinny, but not plus-size body type. I loved it, and I loved getting to see so many everyday people show off what makes them beautiful.

Nick: I've been working hard on my body lately to conform to the standard of what is considered hot. Though I have a lot more work to do, it's nice to see that damn, it ain't so bad. It was also nice to experience modeling. Now I know that most of the ads I see are definitely majorly manipulated and not really what is going on. If you could have seen the work it took to get us in that position... THAT IS ALL.

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Michelle: The makeup and hair made me feel beautiful and really confident, but I don't like that it did. I want to be able to feel that way regardless of what I'm wearing. Also, the pose was actually pretty hard! I had to maintain this crazy backbend position in order to cheat the pose for the camera. I don't know how Anna Nicole Smith made it look so effortless. It made me realize that truly anyone can look like a high-fashion model with enough makeup and photoshop, and I need to remember that when I compare myself to these models all the time. My dad is Indian and my mom is white. Growing up, kids would tell me that I was adopted. I really hate to admit this, but more than anything I wanted to be white to be more like my mom and the people I saw in magazines. I now feel so much more confident in my skin, and this experience has really allowed me to embrace my skin color.

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Quinta: I felt a bit uncomfortable in the clothes. The dress wasn't something I'd typically wear. I felt good about my hair that day until I saw it in that photo and didn't think it matched the feel. I think that has a lot to do with ideal American beauty standards. Despite appreciating Chanel as a brand, and being a fan of Marilyn Monroe, I prefer my individual style over the one being sold in the ad.

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Kelsey: The first five minutes of the shoot I was nervous as shit. I have a lot of scars, even a big one under my left boob, so modeling lingerie was something I’ve never imagined doing. Once I stopped caring if my tampon string was hanging out or if my hair looked cute enough, I really started to have fun with the other girls. I think that shows in the photo. Seeing our photo next to the Victoria's Secret ad was eye-opening. Models project an entire lifestyle in one ad. It’s not always realistic and it shouldn’t be a standard we set to reach ourselves.

Daysha: My ass was just out. It’s interesting being basically naked with people walking around, but It’s kind of empowering as time goes on, because it’s just a body. At the end of the day, it’s just skin, and it was basically just like being in a bathing suit.

Sierra: I felt good. I think it’s going to look good. The cups were a little tight. I think it’s important that women of all sizes are represented, and I’m happy to be of service to show that girls over a size 2 can be sexy and beautiful. BUT I did feel like a bodybuilder with all that oil. It's all about owning yourself, doing you, and loving your body for what it is.