Elliott Sailors Goes From Female To Male Model

10.25.2013

By Jesse Steinbach

Her gender-bending move raises heated controversy

(Images via Wildcard Photos)

Elliott Sailors has made quite the career turnaround. The 31-year-old former Ford model has gone from sandy-blonde belle to dark, short-haired beau. Yep, Sailors is a male model now. Back in September 2012, she cut off her hair and started modeling as a man in photos.

Sailors discussed age as a primary reason for her decision. When you're a 31-female model, your professional career is coming to a close — men, however, have more gas in the tank. “I’m starting over to have a longer career,” Sailors told The New York Post. “Men don’t need to look as young as possible, so I have a lot of time.” 

She described her big day at the barbershop as nerve-wracking and severe: "My heart was racing, I thought, 'Wow, I’m all in. This is it. This isn’t me putting my hair back in a bun and wearing a hat to look like a guy.'"

But while Sailors might be a gent on camera, she lives life offset as a married woman with a very supportive husband. “He said he knew people would see me differently once I did it, but he didn’t realize how much people would see him differently." Sailors went on to explain how many people now think they're a gay couple.

Sailors' gender subversion has received a wide range of media coverage. She was commended by Today and compared to gender-crossing models Andrej Pejic and Lea T. But she's also been criticized by Slate for being kitschy and offensive:

"Lady, it’s a haircut. You have gone to a barber and sat down in a swivel chair, and your long blond tresses are now short. You are hereby free to don men’s clothes and try to hack it in the male modelsphere, but unless you are actually switching your gender, you are a woman who wears man garb to work, not a dude. Changing one’s professional course is stressful, sure. Emotional, even. But there is no need to drape what is finally a perfectly pragmatic career decision in the drama of real-life gender reassignment...To appropriate the trans/transition narrative when really all you intend to do is playact a different gender for the camera is just silly. Cut it out." 

We know androgyny is red-hot in the fashion industry, but we're not sure how Sailors is influencing the trend. Is she breaking gender barriers and paving the way for all kinds of people to model? Or is Sailors' stint merely demonstrating professional resourcefulness, a way to use gender-identification for monetary means? It's an open discussion to be had. Let's hear your thoughts.

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