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Landmark in the News

The moment a model went from gal to guy

New York Post, by Elliott Sailors, October 28, 2013

The Post last week detailed how Elliott Sailors, once a Ford model who had long locks, decided to reinvent herself as a male model. Here, the 31-year-old Harlem resident describes the day she began her transformation.

When I stepped into the FSC Barber Shop in the West Village on Oct. 1, 2012, I had no idea how much of my life was about to alter.

They said, “We don’t actually do women’s short-style haircuts.” I laughed and said, “I understand. I want to look like a boy.”

       Elliott Sailors gets a haircut – and undergoes a transformation.

“Sorry, it’s just kind of a big thing,” I said.

“It’s OK,’’ they said.

They asked me my name, and I said, “Elliott,” and a worker said, “Really?” and I said, “Yes, really. I have ID.”

I asked to see Thorin Decatur, my husband’s barber.

When I sat down in the chair, I told him, “I’m going to cry, but don’t worry about it. I REALLY want to do this.”

I explained to Decatur, “I want to start work as a male model.”

He said he’d never heard of that but thought it was definitely cool, saying, “You’ll be my first!”

At this time, Casey Legler had not yet signed with Ford as a male model. This hadn’t been done before.

I had gotten the idea originally in the summer of 2011, but the last weekend of September 2012, I did The Landmark Forum, a self-help seminar program, and got connected to what I wanted to create: an opportunity to design not just my career, but my life.

Elliott Sailors with her husband Adam Santos-Coy.

I told my husband, Adam, on Sunday night that I was going to do it the next morning. He was super-excited, telling me, “Let’s do this already! Why not?”

I knew that there would be judgments. I mean, my mom doesn’t agree with it, but that’s OK. She’s just as loving as she’s always been.

Before we left that morning, I had asked Adam to take pictures with his phone, and he said, “Let’s make a video!” so he brought the camera.

Once I was in the barber’s chair, Thorin made a part and clipped my hair to the side. Tears welled in my eyes again at the first buzz. But I was determined not to have a tear fall.

It wasn’t so much about my hair — it’s just hair. It was really that I had been a model for so long. It’s what I do. It was saying goodbye to what I had been and knowing that I was starting something brand new, and I had no idea how it would go.

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.”

       Elliott Sailors’ modeling work trailed off until she cut her hair short and
       started working as a male model.

After they cut my hair, the first question I asked was, “Do I still look like a girl?”

With my hand, I felt the part that was shaved. I thought it would feel more rough, but it was still soft. I was looking around to see how people were looking at me. I wanted to see how different it was to look like a boy.

Today, I notice that people look just a second longer. I don’t know if it’s because they’re just trying to find out if I’m a guy or a girl or if they’re thinking, “Hey, that’s a cool haircut.”

I’ve never regretted it. I’m standing for something different to be possible in the world — and not just for me. It’s a stand for self-expression, transformation and freedom.