Paloma Elsesser

Writing Her Story: The Multifaceted World of Paloma Elsesser

Show Notes


Paloma Elsesser is a trailblazing model, advocate, and writer heralded for her unapologetic celebration of body positivity and diversity in the fashion industry. Growing up in Los Angeles, she navigated various artistic pursuits before finding her niche in modeling—later going on to win Model of the Year at the 2023 Fashion Awards. Her career skyrocketed after being discovered on Instagram by Pat McGrath, leading to collaborations with renowned designers, brands, and publications like Miu Miu, Vogue, i-D, Marni and Balenciaga. Elsesser's advocacy extends beyond the runway as she addresses issues of representation and inclusivity. With her distinctive style, eloquence, and charisma, she continues to redefine the model and inspire a generation globally.

Episode Highlights
  • Born in London and raised in California, Elsesser is of Chilean, Swiss, and African American descent to a family of thinkers and what she likes to call “punk” as well as spiritual.
  • She was encouraged to lean into all of her interests, and now considers applying the curiosity she experienced in her childhood to her work. She studied psychology and literature in New York City.
  • She was interested in mental health, substance abuse, literature, and writing, often writing and publishing her poetry throughout her adolescence.
  • Her writing for The Cut was profoundly personal and a cathartic opportunity to discuss representation.
  • Elsesser surrounds herself with a community (a “social diet” of people) who also prioritize her commitment to openness and advocacy, though she feels the language around and scope of cultural diversity is still limited.
  • She navigates the intersection of her voice and communicating the things that matter to her while also understanding the complexities of the commercial aspect of being a talent by pacing herself with slow change and being “obsessed with accountability.”
  • Having stepped back momentarily from social media, Elsesser attempted to “navigate unfettered burnout” of microdramas, gaining confidence from conversations with Richie Shazam and Julia Fox.
  • She’s chosen sobriety for 12 years and sees her lifestyle as a way of both avoiding pain and avoiding causing pain.
  • What’s contemporary now? She says what is always contemporary is curiosity.

Notable Quotes:

  • “Both my parents are very curious. So I think that’s definitely informed one, so much of my work now, but also my ability to exist in difference. I’ve existed in difference for so much of my life, and my parents existed in difference, and my grandparents existed in difference. I find comfort in that, or that is familiar in a way.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • I think the fashion industry—as exploratory and open—I’ve spoken about this before, as it is, it can feel extremely reductive because it’s also a place of commerce.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I definitely have waves, current riptides of misery, but like it’s always balanced and mirrored by this context of purpose or nuance or reasoning that sometimes, and our industries, are not so deeply encouraged.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I think I always joke about how it’s like you can find artful ones, but you can find artful pictures of my literal labia on the internet…that is so deeply exposing, and I think it’s interesting because I have tried to make the conversation of what I do and my body, a sense of poetry and conversation and a personal experience.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I do believe that there was a purpose as to why that happened because it exposed me. It brought me out. To do something that I had been afraid to do. And despite it being a really shitty experience, it opened me up and opened others up into something that I hadn’t yet done. In a way, I am really grateful for it, like in a lot of ways. I’m really grateful for it.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “When I am with a person, or I am on a stage or really able to really engage like on a human level, I just don’t think about, ‘God, I hope this person is thinking of me this exact way.’ I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know why, because again, I have a deep human self-loathing and sometimes, in the moment, I just don’t think about it.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “Life is extremely fragile and extremely short and deeply beautiful. And it’s like, why would I sit across even through a screen, through a little thing and just be like, ‘yeah, self-love and confidence and I do my meditation and then everything’s fab and like body positive hero,’ that does not get me horny, and it never has and it never will so I don’t know.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “For a model, I started a little bit I started later than most of my peers, but I think the generation that I came into also allowed for there to be so much more, quite literally diversity in age, experience, body, background, and voice.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “Hot take: you can’t love until you love yourself.”  —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I love being needed, but I just don’t take it lightly.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I genuinely feel like I try and mind my business…I needed time for reflection. I actually needed to regulate my nervous system, and I couldn’t do that simultaneously while being on Instagram and TikTok.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I came here to try and be an agitator and be a vessel for thought or be, yeah, again, an agitator. Like, I just wanted to come and shake things up. And I think I have.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I feel like sobriety has parented me in many ways. It’s created this force around me that’s allowed me to constantly reflect. To constantly reflect and a desire or a pursuit to investigate.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “I think people are just like, ‘Be pretty, be good at posing, da da da.’ But you have to also be someone people enjoy interacting with.” —Paloma Elsesser
  • “What is contemporary now? I say it a lot, but I really find what is contemporary now and always contemporary is curiosity.” —Paloma Elsesser
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