On Tuesday afternoon, the fashion model formerly known as Natalie Westling shared with CNN Style that his gender identity is male, and will henceforth answer to Nathan Westling.
After walking Louis’s Vuitton’s spring 2019 show last year, Westling took time off from work to focus on himself. Now, at the age of 22, he plans to return to both New York City and modeling, and is still signed to The Society agency.
“I hit a point where I was tired of just existing,” Westling, who struggled with depression, anxiety, and anger issues for many years, told CNN.
Still, transitioning wasn’t an easy fix. “It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the beginning,” he continued. “My first two months of the transition were tough, and it wasn’t until I started to see physical changes that aligned with […] my mental state that I finally woke up and [started] living.”
Westling made his runway debut in 2013 at Marc Jacobs. After growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he says LGBT people were looked at like “freaks,” working in fashion allowed him to play different characters, and ultimately discover himself.
“It feels like I’ve been wearing like a mask my whole life,” Westling said. “Once I removed that mask, it was like I was finally … I don’t know. I’m not wearing a skin that I don’t feel I am anymore. I’m not playing a persona; I’m not trying to be something I’m not anymore. I don’t feel like I’m stuck in this weird moment of having to be in-between.”
As for his future career in fashion, Westling isn’t worried. “I think it’s going to be a good change and I’m excited for it,” he said. “I’m really, really excited.”