“In high school I used be hella about that pinup life,” says 20-year-old Sailor Gonzales, a Los Angeles native studying fashion design and Chicano studies whom Vogue met and photographed as part of its American Women project. We spent a day walking through her neighborhood of Wilmington (where she explained the cyclical nature of local violence), going to L.A.’s skate parks and thrift stores, and exploring her closet, where Gonzales showed off the pieces she thrifts and alters herself. “If I want something that’s really expensive, I just pay a dollar and make it cooler and better and how I would like it,” she explains in a bedroom decorated with drawings of Frida Kahlo, Cesar Chavez, and Selena Quintanilla paraphernalia. “She’s super-relatable, someone you can really look up to, especially when you’re a little girl,” she says of the late singer. “Most of the people around you are white and they don’t understand you. But, like, Selena understands me.”

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