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These National Geographic Animals Give Us Unrealistic Body Expectations

Like DAMN, these animals know how to POSE.

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National Geographic's Instagram is pretty freaking cute.

Instagram: @natgeo

Note Tachi the fox's forward stare. His left paw slightly ahead of his right. His ears alert. How did this Catalina Island fox nail this pose? And could we possibly re-create it?

The National Geographic Instagram currently has 49.4 million followers. It's the only Instagram account in the top 15 that's not run by a celebrity. The photos are not of Kardashians, or The Rock, but of animals.

We wanted to try to capture that je ne sais quoi of Nat's Geo's Instas so that we, too, could get in on some of the Instagram goodness.

Javan Lutung & Joanna

How We Did It:

This photo was not too difficult to re-create. The monkey chose an expressive, surprised face for this shot, and posed with an outreached arm. To me, this look signifies that though we can become complacent, there is always an adventure around the corner, should you chose to look.

I put on a lion-mane meant for a dog and opened up my mouth real big. It worked. Will I adopt this pose for future Instagrams? Yes, yes, 1,000 times yes.

Giant Panda Cub & Sarah

How We Did It:

I decided to bear the responsibility of capturing this cub's pose. This panda bear was only 100 days old, and his love and excitement for life has not yet been dashed by the realities of our cruel, cruel world. That's a lot to show in one photo, but dammit, I did it. For the picture, I pretended that I was trying to hug a telephone pole. I rolled around on my back for three minutes before I allowed any photos to be taken. Could I use this pose for myself? Yes, I could, and I will.

Hasari the Cheetah & Chelsea

How We Did It:

I have freckles, so I knew I would be a natural for re-creating this cheetah's photo. I think what makes this photo so compelling is Hasari's ability to look confused and beleaguered at the same time. It might look frank and unrehearsed, but in reality, the photo took a long, long time to re-create. Hasari uses outliner on her eyes and her snout, which is really great if you want to show how cute your nose is. The only thing I'm missing? Whiskers. Just another reason cheetahs are better than humans at Instagram.


Hasari's photo got 439k likes, while mine got a paltry 2,870. But hey! That's 2,870 more than if I never posted any photo of my cheetah-like face, right? Honestly that's way more like than my typical 50–70 on my normal face. Maybe posing like a cheetah is just what my personal Instagram needs.

Whitecoat Harp Seal & Kevin

How We Did It:

This photo got over 624,000 likes. That's a lot of pressure. You might look at this whitecoat harp seal pup and think he's just maxing and relaxing. It's not true. He ate too much fish and had a tummy ache, and I wanted my re-creation to make that clear. I look comfortable, but I'm actually holding up my back shoulder blade in a kind of backward plank. The lighting on the seal pup is actually very complex. I love this photo, but in all honesty, posing for photos just doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to this seal pup. Mad respect.

Great Horned Owl & Sarah

How We Did It:

It's spring, so we had to buy fake snow for this picture. The fake snow was cold and non-edible, so it immediately put me in a bad mood. Obviously this was perfect. What makes this owl's photo work is that he is pissed off at the snow, and yet also defeated by it. I'm also a miserable person, so the look was very easy to re-create.

Most photos include people smiling, but the owl went the opposite direction. That shows me that you can have any mood in a photo and share it. You don't have to pretend you're having fun all the time. Besides, nobody believes that anyway.


Baby Mallard & Kiebus

How We Did It:

It's a little hard to tell, but this baby mallard is squeaking as she falls over. It's less of a pose and more a moment in time. Before attempting to slowly tip myself over, I put on flippers and a dog muzzle shaped like a beak. Why do we have so many dog props? I don't know. Anyway, with my arms behind my back, it was very difficult to balance. Sure, this little duckling looks cute, but in reality, this pose is very difficult. Especially if you are used to standing on feet and having arms.

Waxy Frog & Brian

How We Did It:

This waxy frog may be giving off mega casual vibes, but I can assure you his pose is anything but. After oiling myself up and slipping into this green bodysuit, I thought this pose would be as easy as a pushup and backward leg twist. Turns out my leg does not naturally do that. We actually had to combine two photos just to get a similar frog pose. Sure, froggy makes it look easy, but this pose takes a lot of time and hundreds and thousands of years of biological evolution to get right.

Polar Bear & Andrew

How We Did It:

You can't see it, but behind the fake snow bank, there's a bucket of water I had to keep dunking my head into to re-create this bear's pose. The bear appears to love swimming in ice-cold water; I, on the other hand, do not. But I found my inner diva and attempted to shake my hair out. This bear is a natural model. For me, it took over 100 shots to get the right one. It just goes to show that there's a reason these animals have an Instagram account that's more popular than mine.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep & Victoria

How We Did It:

When a young bighorn sheep shows off his behind in public, nobody bats an eye. When an adult woman does it, suddenly it's "weird." In truth, I didn't find the pose itself to be difficult. But it was hard to take this photo while being catcalled.

"Hey sheepy, you need some help?"

"You HORNY?"

"I'd like to have sex with you!"

These were things that were yelled at me. In the end, it made me respect the sheep more for his ability to ignore the jeers from jealous nearby animals.

Our Takeaway:

Sometimes when we see these adorable animals getting millions of likes, we think, "Hey, maybe I could do that too." But in reality, a lot of lighting, posing, and patience went into making these Nat Geo Instas spectacular. Also, we are humans.

Like the Kardashians or The Rock or Justin Biebs, these Nat Geo Instas are great to look at, but hard as hell to re-create gracefully.