Erika Linder has boobs. This shouldn’t be so surprising, but the 24-year-old model says she gets shocked looks from photographers when they discover she’s not the flat-chested menswear star they’ve seen in fashion campaigns and gender-bending editorial for the last four years.
Discovered in Sweden, where she was born and lived up until a recent move to Los Angeles, Erika’s androgynous appeal has been her calling card. Her likeness to Leonardo DiCaprio inspired magazines and brands to put her in more masculine wear, and she excelled, kicking off a new trend in fashion that has Erika wanting to move away from the expected and try something new.
“It was cool for me in the beginning, because I was the only girl doing it. I feel like I started off doing that and I think you constantly need to change all the time,” Erika said. “I’m not saying that I’m done with shooting as a guy. Obviously if something cool comes up, I’m totally down for it. But it’s more like—I kind of want to break that circle a little bit. And now I want it to be more about me, not just ‘Erika’s a guy’ or whatever. I want people to see, like, me and not just me in a suit.”
The new movement to hire female models to do menswear has its share of critics, too, which Erika finds frustrating.
“You hear girls that are like ‘I’m just going to cut my hair and put a flannel on and OK, I’m just going to be a guy now,'” she said. “It’s just so transparent and for me, it’s like I can save my hair down to my fucking knees and I can still kind of like pull off the boy thing.”
Erika says she is trying to grow her hair out and hopes to do more “girlie” shoots, which is not only where most of the money in modeling is, but also where she finds the challenge.
“I’m ready for a new chapter. I like doing different stuff,” she said. “I don’t want people to see me as a guy because, at the end of the day, I’m a girl. I don’t want to be a guy. And I think it’s important to try and change because I can do girlie stuff and I’ve done more shoots as a girl than a guy but since—I mean I can do like 10 shoots as a girl and one shoot as a guy and the guy shoot will still stand out. It’s confusing. So if it’s a good opportunity, I’ll l do it but right now I want to shoot as me and yeah, be more feminine because that’s how I want people to kind of see me. Because I am a girl.”