harper's bazaar


written by elliott sailors

January, 2014


Words by Elliott Sailors

What is femininity? I have no idea! I think it just means being a female, in which case I am feminine all the time. The great news is, I get to say how I express being a female and it just so happens that I choose to do it in a pretty dude-ish way…

It was 2011 that I first saw pictures of Andrej Pejic and I fell in love! Thinking I could do the same, I learned quickly, that it never works to be a version of someone else. Fall 2012 I took The Landmark Forum (a global personal and professional training and development program) and got clear about authenticity and why I wanted to make this transformation. I want to be all of who I am all of the time – unbridled, creative, and artistic self-expression! For me, that includes both a feminine and a masculine beauty that I want to express in all that I do.

I moved to New York to model full-time in 2001 and it was then I saw Erin Wasson’s amazing haircut and the idea crossed my mind, perhaps for the first time. My inspiration comes from all kinds of places – from Coco Chanel and her bravery in designing menswear inspired women’s wear, to David Bowie in all his magnificent androgynous beauty, to Tilda Swinton in not only her own expression of gender fluidity, but her whole way of living life that inspires me! I’ve never been a girly-girl, so like Lady Gaga sings, “I was born this way!” I had to learn the traditional kind of femininity that photographers and clients were looking for before. Now I just get to hang out and be myself in front of the camera. Working this way, as I am now, comes very naturally.

I am always looking to challenge the ways I think. I never want to feel stuck in any one way of being and what’s so exciting is I never have to! Transformation is always possible in any moment. That’s why I love fashion so much – the ever-changing beauty, creativity and artistry that we get to drape ourselves in every single day. I am in awe of Tom Ford and his appreciation of sexiness and beauty in all its forms. One of my favorite men’s shows ever was Thom Browne’s in Paris for Spring Summer 2014. Every look was perfect and I would so love to work with him! Androgynous beauty is everywhere and I am appreciative of all of it.

What I’m enjoying lately is all the people reaching out to me to share their stories and experiences in finding their own self-expression in the world. This is so much more than a career change, this is bigger than who I am and bigger than just some story about androgyny. I am honored that I get to be not only a face, but a voice for so many who are just wanting us all to feel safe being true to ourselves, in whatever form of fashion, beauty and self-expression that is. I want all of us to feel comfortable in our own skin all the time. I invite everyone to look at where we can bring acceptance, creativity, beauty, and freedom to the world.