COVER STORY - Elliott Sailors
There are only a few people in the world who can be a fashion model. You have to have the right height, weight, and look. There is an incredible amount of pressure put on women and men to change their look, stay young, be current, and to have enough followers. Now try doing that as both sexes. Elliot Sailors, represented by Iconic Focus Models NYC, is one of very few amazing talents capable of pulling this off.
Described as a “blond bombshell” before her transformation, at the age of 31, Elliott decided to cut her long hair and apply for male modeling jobs. With her already tall frame and square jaw, this striking beauty fit in with the males better than expected. While female models are expected to stay young and be pretty, male models have character when they are a little older. However, this was more than an excuse to extend her modeling career. Elliott was making a powerful statement to the fashion industry and world. We need to be more inclusive.
Most people do not fit into a perfect little box marked “Female” or “Male”. There is a lot more gender fluidity than people want to admit. Elliott marches down runways and throws attitude to the camera that tells people that it is okay to be yourself. Elliott continues to be a voice for the LGBTQ community and models all over the world, being a face of a movement and giving speeches. Most importantly, Elliott’s message is to embrace who you are, have fun with it, and Be You Be True.
To learn more about the inspiring Elliott Sailors, please read Elliott’s interview below.
Foreword by Kira Bucca, Editor and Chief of Jejune Magazine.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Tucson, AZ, but moved around a lot. The longest I’ve ever lived anywhere is where I live now - in Harlem NYC and I love it!
Please tell us how you started modeling.
I was first introduced to modeling when my father took me to a talent search of some kind, when I was nine years old. It was when I was 19, that I moved to New York City and started modeling full time. This was before emails of our schedules and I didn’t have very many minutes each month on my phone plan, so I’d go into the agency every evening to get my schedule for the next day.
Did you always want to be a model?
From the moment I realized I could travel and meet so many different kinds of interesting people while working as a model, I was into it.
What inspired you to change your look and start modeling menswear?
Andreja Pejic was a big inspiration for me at the time. I wanted there to be a known space in fashion that barely existed at the time.
How did the industry respond to it?
Work actually slowed down for me once the media picked up the story about my hair. Prior to the media attention, I was able to work in women’s or men’s without anyone worrying or thinking much about it. Once I was in the media, and people knew the story, it became much more of an issue for brands to decide whether or not they wanted to be a part of the media attention.
Do you have a preference to modeling more as a woman or a man?
I don’t model as a man or as a woman. I model menswear and womenswear, and there’s so much variety! No, I don’t have a preference.
You identify as Queer. Can you please explain what that means to you?
Queer is really anyone who is not entirely heterosexual and/or is not cisgendered. I like “queer” because it’s extremely inclusive.
Can you please tell us what being genderfluid and/or androgynous means to you?
Genderfluid is anyone who doesn’t identify as having a fixed gender - possessing a fluid gender identity. Androgynous is having what is characterized as male and female traits or appearances simultaneously. For example, I can look androgynous or not, but I am always genderfluid.
You have dated men and women, but decide to describe yourself as Queer instead of Bisexual, why is that?
I don’t use the term bisexual as that would mean no one I’ve dated could identify as anything other than male or female. As I said before, I like queer because it’s so inclusive.
Do you feel that Bisexuals have a stigma to them, in and outside the LGBTQ community? Please explain.
I do think that people who identify as bisexual are often not respected or believed. Many people think they haven’t made up their mind or are gay and pretending to be a little straight or identifying as bisexual just to be cool. Both those within the LGBTQ community and without can afford to let go of judgement, and assumption of others’ knowledge of themselves and path of self-discovery.
We think it is wonderful that you speak at schools and conferences about making healthy choices, self-esteem, combating peer pressure, creating a powerful future, leadership and activism in LGBTQ rights, feminism and the rights of humanity. What inspired you to get involved with this?
I first started speaking at schools while I was still in high school myself. I have always wanted to bring mindfulness and create more space for understanding.
What is your favorite/most passionate issue to discuss?
I honestly don’t think I have a favorite issue or one thing about which I feel most passionate. There are so many opportunities to uplift those around us and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Please let us know your thoughts regarding the #metoo movement and the fashion industry.
I think that with the work of the Models Alliance things are improving in the fashion industry. The RESPECT Program is gaining more traction, and it makes a tremendous difference as fashion publications, agencies and other members of the industry also accept responsibility for the rights and safety of models and of each other.
The industry is getting safer, models are getting braver in speaking out, and there are a lot more opportunities for models to feel safe in speaking up, but we still have a long way to go.
It is on each of us in the industry to take on responsibility for how it goes.
Can you please tell us a bit about TOMISNOTABOY?
One night my girlfriend, Olimpia, and I were talking about trying to find a way to support more of the non-profit organizations we love. Long story short, we came up with tomisnotaboy!
We donate 10% of our profits to these organizations and we use it as a platform to inform our followers about environmental and human rights, while having fun creating new designs and sharing amazingness in the world.
Everything we sell is unisex and we hope anyone would feel good wearing our brand. This year we are also beginning work with other emerging young artists.
Let’s say that tomisnotaboy is our platform and our teacher in how to do good, work with ethics and give back to Mother Nature.
If you have any advice you would give out to the world, what would it be?
It is our job as consumers to speak up - inclusivity of the spectrum will continue with gender, size, ableism and race as we as buyers continue to respond positively to the inclusivity and ask for more. The fashion industry is looking at who is buying and who is the loudest about what they want. As we support brands that support inclusivity we will get to see more and more of it!
What is your motto in life?
Photography: Kira Bucca Photography
Stylist: Chad Groom and Llewellyn Jenkins for THE STYLEMONSTERS
Makeup: Viktorija Bowers at Celestine Agency
Hair: Luca Blandi at Artists By Timothy Priano
Photo Assistant: Michael Newman
Special thanks to Anthony’s Automotive Repairs Inc. for our perfect location!