“Change doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. Growth doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen.” The activist and artist is creating waves in the fashion industry and turning the tide on what it means to be a model. Yves discusses mental health, his new album, “Chronicle 1” and runs through a “Yves Mathieu Workout.”
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
Growing up did you have a role model that influenced your outlook on life?
Not one person exactly but I was really into punk bands, like Green Day, Good Charlotte, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Blink – 182, Lenny Kravitz (even though he’s not a band), I was just heavily drawn to the aesthetic and the pissed off attitude they gave off. I was kind of quiet growing up and really bashful but in my mind I was definitely in a punk band haha.
In your personal life you actively endorse femininity – exercising the power of embracing your feminine side. What female influences in your life and pop culture inspired this?
I’m frankly inspired by anything with divine feminine energy. Growing up as a closeted gay kid with a queer character – I never displayed that. So now that I’m out and open I welcome all of it and wear it freely and proudly. In pop culture some female influences that have left sparks in my eyes are Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Diana Ross, RuPaul, and about 100 others haha. I guess the fierceness of who they are and the way they carry themselves in this respectful diva like manner is something that I’ve always been so drawn to and try to unapologetically adopt into my own life.
Let’s talk tattoos and piercings. These forms of self expression are often an extension of one’s principles as well as a middle finger to conservatism. Are you considering more tattoos or piercings and how have they served you?
I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting tattooed until the day I die, whether it be touch ups or small little pieces wherever I can sneak them haha. I’ll be getting the rest of my butt tattooed sometime this year and also looking into getting my eyelids done as well. As far as piercings go I don’t think I’ll get anymore on my face but I may do my nipples again, but any piercing you can think of, chances are I’ve already had it ;). My modifications have definitely set me apart even more than I already do and have served as a great upper hand in weeding out the people I come across in life who judge me for my appearance rather then judging me by my heart.
You’re featured in Luke Austin’s book, “LÉWÀ” which addresses diversity and explores the beauty of black men. As a queer model of color how important is this representation and what do you hope the book achieves?
I’m so grateful, thankful, and blessed for the making of that book, and so humbled to be on the cover, I hope I live long enough to show my kids the book, honestly. I think that not only as a queer model of color but as a queer person of color in general, being able to see someone you identify with in the eye of the public on a platform that’s not demoting, degrading or mocking is very important. If people think that we’re getting close to the representation we need then they’re completely incorrect, and the times in which we live are a clear sign of that. If we’re not represented (correctly) then we’re not respected (genuinely), if we’re not respected (rightfully), then we’re not recognized (humanly). I hope this book achieves a greater sense of community, respect, and beauty amongst all of us, an appreciation for the unappreciated.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER”
MODELLING, ARTISTRY and ACTIVISM
Take us through a “Yves Mathieu Workout:”
I workout a lot, maybe about 5/6 days a week, some weeks I do cross fit and other weeks I break down 1 or 2 muscle groups by day.
Monday – chest and triceps.
Tuesday – back and biceps.
Wednesday – legs.
Thursday – abs.
Friday – swim or run (cardio).
Saturday – B O O T Y.
A lot of my working out started when I got clean from drugs, at first it was something that I used to keep my mind stimulated and busy and then eventually grew to something that I take very seriously and genuinely enjoy doing.
Tell us about your artistry Yves and the importance of having this platform to write empowering tracks?
I’ve been writing for a super long time, since I was a kid. Through growing up and just dealing with a lot internally I never really talked about my issues and insecurities and instead I would journal everything. I learned to play the keyboard/piano when I was young so I would just start turning what was in my journals into music, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done now as an adult – taking my life experiences and moments that I think at least one other person on this earth can relate to, and I’m making the choice to share them with the world. I take it very seriously and I plan to tackle this head on and go as far as God will take me with it.
Awkwardness, intimacy and vulnerability are some themes synonymous with dance and sex. What advice would you have for someone inhibited by these factors?
Change doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. Growth doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. My biggest advice would be the word comfortability. The textbook definition of the word comfortable is providing physical ease and relaxation. Nothing should be forced and nothing should feel like you HAVE to do it. If it doesn’t feel natural to you then the whole experience will be a bad one. I feel that all these themes are within every single one of us when it comes to stepping into any situation or space where we feel we may be judged, it’s very hard and tough to do, but there is something beautiful about letting your guard down.
“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” was the theme for this year’s Met Gala. Firstly what look would you have served and secondly was there ever a personal struggle with being queer and religious?
I thought the theme was beautiful. Me being a very fluid person I probably would’ve gone as Adam & Eve, completely naked with a fig leaf over my crotch and two fig leaves over my nipples, being heavily tattooed you’re always dressed up anyway haha. And yeah, I actually really admire you for asking that, because people sometimes say hurtful and stupid things along the lines of ‘God hates Gays.’ God made us so beautiful, there’s no way he hates us. Once I realized that, it became a bit easier for me in my faith, God knows my heart.
Who are some fashion houses that back the careers of non – binary models that we should have on our radar?
Nautica featured “Rain Dove” for their SS 2017 presentation, which was beautiful. Kenneth Cole knows what’s up. CHNGE also knows what’s up. ASOS recently featured the beauty that is Aaron Philip. The list is very small but the people I’ve named are very big in spirit and are beautiful lights necessary to expand the closed world of blandness in the industry.
May was Mental Health Awareness Month. For many men ownership of their emotions is a battle. How can we prioritize our mental health and advocate that more men open up about their mental wellness?
The answer to this question is in the question and that’s the word “prioritize,” we have to make it a priority to bring these things up, we have to make it a priority to not make jokes about how we actually feel, we have to make it a priority to keep each other accountable, we have to make it a priority to listen when someone is taking the time to be real with us, we have to make it a priority to makes these issues OUR priority. I know I just said the word priority a lot but imagine just how beautiful it would be if we used that word as much as I just said it? That’s how we’ll be able to open up about mental wellness – by making it important.
“… we have to make it a priority to not make jokes about how we actually feel, we have to make it a priority to keep each other accountable, we have to make it a priority to listen when someone is taking the time to be real with us, we have to make it a priority to makes these issues OUR priority.”
Are there any young creatives or models that excite you for the future?
Absolutely yes, my little brothers are so damn cool, whenever I visit home they have such beautiful ideas and come up with the coolest things. Aaron Philip, Torraine, Leyna Bloom, Yara Shahidi, Farren Jean Andrea, Amelia, Hari Nef and Giana Noelle, just to name a few!
A musician, dancer, model, activist, volunteer – you’re a real “Jane of all trades.” What advice would you have for someone who wants to create their own future and not feel pressured by social norms and work 9 – 5?
Not everyone will understand you, like you do, or get you, but that’s okay because as long as you understand why you’re doing what you do, as long as you like what you do, as long as you get what you do, that’s all that really counts. It’s very hard trying to explain the story of the lion to a flock of sheep, some nights you’ll sleep, some nights you won’t. Your version of normal is whatever you want it to be.
What are you currently reading, listening and devoted to this month?
It sounds very strange but I’ve been listening to my album almost everyday. It’s been done for a while now and I’ve been playing it over and over constantly, just making sure that it’s what I want the world to hear. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to me creating, even though nothing is really perfect in the end. I also have music recorded for next year and I listen to that a lot too.
What would you graffiti on a toilet door?
“BLACK LIVES MATTER”