Get Well

Andreja Pejic On Why Being Transgender Doesn’t Make Her Any Different Than Other Runway Stars

The model opens up on how she deals with industry pressures and what wellness means to her.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Preparing for fashion week is hard enough as it is. And all we have to do is attempt to look like some semblance of the stylish people our job titles would purport us to be and get ourselves (occasionally on time) to the shows and various appointments we’ve actually been invited to. For the models who actually walk the runways, stand for hours on end at presentations, host countless parties, launch events and signings, it’s a whole other beast entirely (perhaps you’ve heard of the sample size). So we got to talking with a Bandier-clad Andreja Pejic at Brooklyn’s Xtend Barre—the site of her latest Pilates obsession—the heralded transgender model who, well, knows a thing or two about the pressures that come with working in an industry where your body is quite literally your meal ticket. Herein, Pejic tells us about the importance of prevention, avoiding snacks, fashion week breakfasts and why she feels lucky as a member of the transgender community.

 

General Wellness

“For me wellness is about staying healthy, so you can live longer and enjoy life more. Life is short, so we should work on our bodies to have more fun and to keep going for longer. It’s definitely a state of mind: at the end of the day it’s just about being happy.

[My wellness goals include] staying healthy, looking good, and skincare and skin health is something that’s very important to me; keeping my metabolism fast, keeping my body fit and my muscle structure toned. I avoid sunlight as much as possible and wear SPF 50 all of the time, even in winter. I drink a lot of teas—green tea, white tea, all herbal teas—I think it’s very important as far as antioxidants go. I use good skincare: a lot of antioxidant serums and retinol treatments, along with regular exfoliation and cleansing. I exercise at least twice a week. I have a natural muscle tone, so I focus more on cardio and I do quite a bit of Bikram yoga. I don’t necessarily diet—I have periods when I’m not so healthy and then I have periods when I’m more concerned—definitely around fashion week. I don’t diet, but I cut out fatty things and processed sugar, and just generally try to eat healthy food.

"As a teenager, I ate a lot more sugar and processed food—when you’re young and you have less of a conscience—but I don’t eat sweet anymore. I’ve cut out snacking; I go to the gym more regularly; I do a lot more walking up and down stairs. I think I’ve just evolved more of a conscience when it comes to my wellness.

"I feel like I’m in a great position compared to most people in the transgender community—I do feel very lucky. But I think it’ll take some time before transgender models are seen like other models and are used like other models. I think the runways can definitely do more to represent this amazing cultural shift, but you get more bees with honey and I think, in time, it’s just something that is going to get bigger and more acceptable.”

 

Mental Health

“I try to get alone time as much as possible. I am a bit of an introvert and obviously, in this industry, it’s a very highly stimulating environment, so sometimes I need a break. I read a book and chill on my own to decompress. I think having good people around me who I can talk to and share the highs, but also talk to about the lows with is important. In this industry it’s sort of a work in progress: you learn to deal with the stress of the industry as you get older a lot better than when you’re starting out.”

 

Travel

“I try to get a lot of sleep and take supplements like gingko for good circulation and fish oil—that’s my main thing. I keep away from bacteria by washing my hands—traveling exposes you to a lot of bacteria.”

 

Eating

“I drink teas; coconut water is great. If I go out and I’m going to have a few drinks, I use this electrolyte powder that you dissolve in water. It’s supposed to hydrate you 10 times more than normal water—that’s important because obviously nights out can be dehydrating.

I generally don’t cook that much—I just make breakfast—but I make a nice curry with curry powder. During fashion week I’ve been going a lot to Liquiteria, and I usually have a morning breakfast smoothie and a side parfait. Usually for breakfast I eat eggs. I like to eat something substantial for breakfast; I definitely think it’s the most important meal of the day, so sometimes a bagel with tuna and avocado.

[My guilty pleasure is] probably my mom’s cake. When I go back home she tries to fatten me up; she thinks I’m too skinny. She’s European, so she’s very much all about food and every time I go back she deliberately makes cake for me to eat because she knows I love it. And I love fried chicken once in a while.

I try not to eat too much before I workout—maybe have a little protein bar. After I usually have something more, like Mexican food.”

 

Fitness

“I’ve been getting into barre and Pilates lately at Xtend Barre in Brooklyn. Recently I had my first session and you hurt afterwards. I have pretty good muscle tone and I’m thinking, oh, this is going be easy, and then after 25 minutes you’re dying and a 50-year-old lady is actually doing things better than you. It’s using all those little muscles that you don’t ever use.”

 

Beauty

“I’ve done this special treatment with my dermatologist: it’s basically a version of microdermabrasion, but without the crystals. It uses exfoliation and they inject vitamins into your skin. It made me feel pretty fresh, but a little bit red.”

 

Advice for anyone looking to be healthier

“I think in life, you just want to enjoy life. I’m not a robot, but I do think that if we do care a little bit about our bodies, it just allows us to enjoy life more. Have fun but be conscious. I’m all about prevention from sun damage and from diseases later on in life—I feel like everything you do now counts.”

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