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I Acted Like A Famous Model On Instagram And Lost All My Followers

I've had body image issues my whole life and wanted to see if this would help change the way I saw myself.

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Hey! I'm Spencer, and I have a confession to make: I've been working on a version of this article for almost two years now.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

And that's not because I'm lazy — it's just taken me that long to start getting comfortable with my body.

The truth is, I've always had body image issues. My low self-esteem and anxiety were primarily rooted in the fact that I saw myself as too skinny. The media's portrayal of men played a huge part in this, and my confidence suffered.

In fact, this article was originally supposed to be about how I re-created ~Justin Bieber's~ Instagram pics, not Cameron Dallas's, but in the middle of shooting my confidence hit an all-time low.

instagram.com / John Shahidi, instagram.com

Bieber was notorious for posting weird pics on Instagram, so in the beginning of 2016 I chose a few to re-create — some of which included a butt pic and a random photo where he licked a giant knife.

I started with the knife pic, because I figured it’d be the easiest one to re-create. Well, after 30 minutes we still didn’t have the shot. I’d stare at each attempt and rip myself to shreds: "My mouth looks too weird in this one, my hair doesn’t flow the right way here, one of my eyes is doing that weird thing I can’t control." My near-nonexistent confidence would get smaller with each failed attempt. I kept thinking, “How is this so hard? It’s literally just a picture of Justin Bieber licking a knife.”

I gave up and tried re-creating another one, but the same thing kept happening. I got so frustrated with myself and how I looked, and my anxiety kept growing and my body sort of started to shut down. It felt like I wasn't even part of my body anymore, like I was watching everything from the sidelines. I ultimately put the project on hold, and it took me a few weeks to start feeling more normal.

So why did I revisit this project if it made me feel like shit? Well, my attitude toward my body has changed. I spent the last two years working on myself, and I wanted to see how far I've actually come.

Taylor Miller / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

After my Bieber debacle, I started bulking up and gained 20 pounds. I finally started to feel more confident.

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My new goal was to have as much fun with this project as possible.

Instagram: @camerondallas / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

I went into this knowing that I wasn't a professional model, so I shouldn't compare myself to one. Those people, like Cameron Dallas, who has over 20 million Instagram followers, literally get paid to look the way they do. It's their full-time job.

I also didn't want to take this project too seriously, because that would just leave me frustrated. So I had a few personal rules before starting: I would only spend a few minutes re-creating each photo, and I wouldn't look at any of the pictures while shooting. Here's what happened.

The first picture I re-created was of this cool handstand, which apparently took Cameron "93,737,389" times to get.

instagram.com / Mike Rosenthal, Taylor Miller / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

This was the picture I was most excited to take. It seemed simple enough: Just do a handstand on the edge of a box. But when it was actually time to take the picture, I got nervous that the box would tip over (the only thing worse than falling on my face at work would be falling on my face at work...and having photographic evidence of it). So I had someone hold the box while I basically threw my body in her direction. I was so glad I didn't fall on her. She probably was too.

Here's what it looked like ~behind the scenes~.

Taylor Miller

This surprisingly only took four tries to get right. Not gonna lie: I felt good about myself, especially since Cameron said his took waaaayyyyy too many attempts. So far I was off to a good start.

I honestly have no idea what's going on in this second picture, but I do know that Cameron looks good, so I had to re-create it.

instagram.com, Taylor Miller / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

I totally understand wanting to eat ice cream in bed while naked. Like, we've all been there. But I felt absolutely ridiculous trying to do this, especially with two of my coworkers in the room. I tried Googling "Cameron Dallas ice cream naked bed picture" to see if this was for a magazine shoot or just a random pic for his fans, but a bunch of inappropriate stuff popped up so I stopped looking. Oh well.

The prep time for this was about 15 minutes, which honestly wasn't that bad at all. The photo itself was a little more difficult to get because I had to position my body exactly the way he did, so I had someone giving me instructions while the photographer took pictures. I actually really like how this turned out.

The most unfortunate part about this project was that I had to copy Cameron's Instagram captions exactly... and his were usually pretty weird.

instagram.com

His caption was "Is there a better way to start off a night than this ? Probably not..."

That was so out of character for me (and the random space between the word "this" and the question mark KILLED me to publish), but luckily none of my followers figured out what I was doing.

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The third picture was from Cameron's Teen Vogue photo shoot.

instagram.com / Teen Vogue, Taylor Miller / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

This was actually the hardest picture to get because of how windy it was outside. I couldn't get the balloons to stay still, and they kept hitting me in the face.

The only other thing I remember about this picture was that I clenched down onto the balloon strings so hard because I was terrified they'd blow away.

And apparently people believed that I was actually going to be in Teen Vogue.

instagram.com

I got a lotttttt of comments, DMs, and texts from people who seriously thought I was going to be in Teen Vogue. To be honest, that felt pretty awesome.

The next picture was of Cameron in a shower, sticking his tongue out, because why not?

instagram.com / Justin Campbell, Taylor Miller / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Looking back on this, I think Cameron might have rubbed baby oil all over his body, because the mini shower I took beforehand didn't leave me looking shiny or glistening.

I think this shoot would have been a lot easier on me if I wasn't restricted to copying his exact pose. My hands never ended up in the spots they needed to be in. Also, I tried a few pics where both of my eyes were kinda closed, like in Cameron's, but the photographer said I looked high, so I had to find a new approach.

The final picture was the most ridiculous to me.

instagram.com / Rollacoaster / Justin Campbell, Taylor Miller / Instagram: @spenceralthouse

I had a lot of problems with this picture because it was very...revealing. Not once did the photographer tell me to ~readjust~ myself, so when I saw the finished product my jaw sort of dropped. I spent a few hours the other night photoshopping my bulge out of the pic, because I didn't want people to think I was posting the picture just to showcase my dick and balls. The picture was already bizarre enough on its own.

I've looked at that picture of Cameron Dallas hundreds of times over the last few months, but I honestly don't get what he's doing.

instagram.com

Why was he sitting next to a refrigerator while playing a video game? And what was he even sitting on? A mini workout bench? A skateboard? I don't know! The whole thing confused me.

One commenter asked if the people looking at my picture were actually part of the game, meaning I controlled them. I had no idea if that was the true intension behind Cameron's initial photo shoot, as if it were social commentary on how people consume media, but honestly it fucked me up and I knew it was time to stop this project.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Being a model — even a pretend one — is not as easy as it looks. And if you're dying to act like one on Instagram, be prepared to lose some followers (I lost over 400 followers from start to finish).

This project taught me to put everything into perspective. Comparing myself to Cameron Dallas or anyone else in the media is not a healthy way to measure my own success or progress. That's why I suffered so much when I initially started this project two years ago.

I'm extremely happy with how the pictures turned out, and I truly love the way my body looks in most of them. However, I am embarrassed that it took gaining a bunch of muscle for me to start appreciating my body. I should have been able to do that no matter what I looked like. But I think this is a small step in the right direction.

If you want to keep up with the rest of my journey, you can follow me on Instagram @SpencerAlthouse.

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