Dressed for success

This Kiwi teenager has more than half a million online followers for his parody of pop culture.

By Aroha Awarau
For Kiwi mother Karen Martin, quality time with teenage son Liam means helping him impersonate top female celebrities.
Replicating famous photos of A-listers such as Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, Liam’s online posts of his humorous snaps have made him a rising star.
The Auckland high school student’s Instagram account now has more than 600,000 followers worldwide and it’s growing every day – he even gets sent presents from fans in the US.
But while some mums could have trouble understanding their son’s unique talent, it’s a wacky passion that has 45-year-old Karen’s full support.
“By day, he’s a school boy and at night he’s this online person who makes people around the world laugh by being female stars,” she says.
“I help Liam out with his photos. There are worse hobbies he could be into.”
The craze started a year ago when the 16-year-old began imitating stars and sharing the photos on the internet for fun. He started getting comments and people began following his online antics.
“People really loved what I did. It was flattering. I’m just out there and I don’t really care,” Liam explains.
“Some teenagers have said that I make them feel like they can be themselves. It’s a cool feeling to help people be more comfortable in their own skin.”
From Britney Spears and Beyoncé to our very own Lorde, no female star is off limits. Every picture is well thought out and Karen is by her son’s side to make everything happen.
“I pick the celebrities that are hot topics, and celebs that are familiar to my audience,” Liam explains.
Although most feedback he receives is positive, Liam does get the odd negative comment – something Karen finds hard to deal with.
“I don’t know why people say those sorts of things,” she says.
“Liam is only having fun and not hurting anyone. If you don’t get it or like it, then don’t look.”
But her son is thick-skinned and undeterred by the criticism.
“People have made a couple of nasty comments, but I’m not taking it to heart. Why should I?
“The positive comments outweigh the negative. There’s always going to be haters.
“As a teenager these days, it is hard with different pressures we face and the growth in social media. I’m showing people you don’t have to take it seriously and not to worry. My friends are pretty cool with it.”
Liam is Karen and her husband Kevin’s only child, and she jokes that helping her son prepare for his many feminine poses just makes up for the fact that they didn’t have a daughter.
“I enjoy it, but will draw the line at going clothes shopping together,” Karen laughs.
Liam hopes his new-found fame and exposure will help him with his career ambitions – he plans to study broadcasting and aspires to be on TV when he finishes school next year.
And as a concerned parent, Karen wishes her son’s project will benefit him in the future.
“He’s put himself out there and that’s great. I hope that he goes forward with it and there’s a life for him when he finishes school,” she says.
“I like how Liam is making people laugh and in this day and age, some people have forgotten to have fun.”