"Model... More than just a girl..." is how Elliott Sailors, 31, describes herself in her Twitter account.
Sailors is – or rather, was – a sultry blonde who was signed by a prestigious model agency, a recognizable advertisement face. Now, she's ditched the swimsuit and long locks for flannels and a short, spiky haircut. That's because Sailors has decided she wants to model as a man.
Sailors does not identify with the opposite sex other than when she is behind the camera. Her movement into the male realm, she claims, is solely career-based rather than sexuality. She thinks that modeling as a man will create more opportunities and earn her more money.
"It was a while ago that I first had the idea," Sailors narrates. "It wasn't until I saw [transgender model] Andrej Pejic in 2011 – not in person, in a photograph – I was just so inspired. I think he's beautiful. So initially, I tried to do it with my long blonde hair. I was like 'I have long blonde hair, too, we can both do it.' But it didn't work for me that way."
On October 1, 2012, Sailors decided it was time to cut off all of her hair. "I decided to move full-force ahead and do it all the way. Well, not all the way, I'm not transitioning, but in terms of appearance."
Despite her appearance – and her fledgling career in the male modeling industry – she emphasizes that she is married to a man and that the only physical changes she has undergone have been cutting her hair and wrapping her breasts in order to appear flat-chested. With her thick eyebrows and defined cheek bones, however, Sailors's androgynous look seems to allow for an easy transition. With the right amount of make-up and styling, Sailor believes she can be whichever gender she is hired to be.
"For me initially, it was really about the fact that I would lose the clients that I already had," she says. "Obviously in modeling you're booked on the way you look. Those clients are physically looking for that long blonde hair, so my fear was more about how it would affect my job. Emotionally, when I finally did it, I didn't know what would happen. It was really stepping into the unknown, because it was bigger than just a haircut. And it's bigger than just a career move. It's also the whole presentation of how people see me."
While male models are known to make smaller salaries than their female counterparts, Sailors feels the male-modeling industry is more accepting. The competition of being a female supermodel is less competitive for male models, which she says will create a more equal playing field.