This story is part of Image issue 5, “Reverence,” an exploration of how L.A. does beauty. See the full package here.
I’ve been on this journey alone for the longest time. It’s almost as if I see myself like a marble statue. Carving away at my body and then shaping it the way that I need to shape it. It’s really intricate, it’s really tedious, everything is very calculated.
I am a dancer. I would consider myself a freestyler because most of my stuff is really vibe-y, wavy type of movements. As a dancer, you have to be very free-flowing and be able to feel all the pivots in your body, all the different movements, all the different muscles. Dancing is literally all isolation. It’s all about knowing your body and how to move it in a certain motion to make it look a certain way. Posing is the exact same thing, just on a tighter scale — and obviously less movement.
Honestly, it’s extremely empowering. When you’re doing the poses, you just feel powerful. It’s kind of like all your work coming together. I felt like I owed it to myself to appreciate the hard work that I’ve put in. When I was posing, I was thinking of how happy I was going to be once I saw those pictures. I’m trying to impress myself. At the end of the day, I want to look at those pictures and be like, Wow.
Ajay Holbrook is a 24-year-old bodybuilder, artist and dancer originally from Houston who hopes to become the first transgender Mr. Olympia.