The discussion in the fashion and modeling industry about the exploitation of young girls have been going on for years. Despite this discussion, the girls seem to get younger and younger, jet-setting the world and dealing with criticism about growing a feminine figure while they’re not even old enough to drive or drink. Model Elliott Sailors (31) has had a successful career in womenswear modeling – from couture catwalks to Ellen von Unwerth shoots – but recently found herself inspired by androgynous model Andrej Pejic. As she told Vogue UK:
I definitely wasn’t a girly girl growing up, although I wasn’t good at sports so I suppose I was missing the athletic skills to be called a tomboy! It was 2011 when I first saw pictures of Andrej Pejic, and I immediately thought, ‘I could do that.’ I tried a few shoots with my long blonde hair, like Andrej, modeling menswear and it just didn’t work. I wrapped my breasts and didn’t pose as you would for womenswear, but stylists and make-up artists still saw me as a woman – and the make-up was all wrong, shading my face to make me more manly – so I knew I had to cut my hair.”
Even though Sailors was inspired by Pejic to try and model for men’s wear as a woman, her motives and lifestyle are very different. Pejic was born a man and is becoming a woman while playing with transgender image and blurring the lines between “man” and “woman”. In 2011 there was a controversy in the US after Pejic posed for the cover of New York based magazine Dossier Journal, in which she is taking off a white shirt while wearing her long blond hair in curlers.
Elliot however, is a happily married woman who harbours no desire to become a man. She simply decided to cut her hair short and leave everything she has learned about feminine modeling behind to expand her work field, and with that, hopefully, extend her modeling career:
There is a market for womenswear models into their thirties and forties but it is much more commercial and, the truth is, if you love working in high fashion – which I do – you can do that much longer in menswear.I don’t want what I’ve done to be seen as any kind of revolt against the fashion industry, I love the industry and what it creates, I’m just adding another voice to the narrative.”
I think it’s an incredibly brave step to take and might start a chain reaction to the view of the modeling industry as it is. Keep an eye out for this one!