November 19, 2020
Interview with Javi Costa Polo: Values come first but you can always do it pretty
Javi Costa Polo is a business professional, with a focus on fashion and luxury products. He is known as an influencer on social media and has a solid following with many fansites posting about him daily on Instagram.
Originally from Mallorca, Spain he’s lived in Anchorage, Alaska as part of an exchange program. Then, after High School lived in Madrid for a year and subsequently moved to Denver, Colorado to study international business. He graduated cum laude in two years and spent a year working in Los Angeles, California before returning to Madrid.
Having modelled for top brands like Benetton; SLAM Clothing; Palomo Spain and Jacques Marie Mage, has brought Costa Polo into the spotlight, as well as having dated Adam Lambert, the lead singer for the rock band Queen. This past year, Javi has made news headlines and has been featured in several magazines.
During this interview, Javi gave us some insight into the fashion industry, talked about his values and shared his thoughts about living in both the USA and Spain. And, we discovered there’s much more to this amazing young man than meets the eye.
When did you start modelling?
I started when I was finishing High School. I did this campaign for SLAM, it was my first campaign ever, and after that, I started hanging out with photographers for other, more independent brands. But really, my modelling took off in Los Angeles, because when I moved that was kind of my prime time and I found amazing photographers. Also, since I had more followers on Instagram, I felt I really needed to do something with it. I didn’t want you to just be looking at a boring page; I wanted it to be a good thing for you all.
Competition on Instagram can be pretty intense. What are your experiences like?
At first, it was very hard for me, to be honest. Instagram and I have been through so many different phases. At first, I really cared and I really wanted more and I really was working and killing myself for the content. That was also the time I was modelling. I’ve never considered myself a model and I’ve never wanted to be a model. I started because I guess, I’m somehow pretty, and I do like to get pictures of myself and the best shot – always. So, I started enjoying that. In the society we live in, there’s such pressure to become that. I was just like if I’m going to play the game of this social media, might as well f**ing kill it.
Also, in Los Angeles, I had the worst time with social media because, in L.A., it is the worst. Everyone is Insta famous but everyone buys their followers. It’s a weird world. In L.A. I had the most pressure to become someone on Instagram and I was working the hardest on modelling etc, I guess I was comparing myself with other influencers and did not feel enough, I learned with time that in order to shine you just have to be yourself and have fun doing it.
But, you also wanted it?
I also wanted it, for sure. That’s why I was working harder and I was putting the most effort I could. But, it was also taking so much time and I was always worried is this picture going to do good? I think it made me more unhappy than it made me happy, at first and during that first year. And, I’ve never been making money out if, so all the effort and work I put in it through pictures, is for you guys. Just to enjoy it with you, and for getting in contact, for you to comment and for me to answer, which I love.
When I moved to Madrid, I relaxed a bit on it. I took off the pressure because I had worked so much for a whole year. So now, Instagram makes me a lot happier than it used to. This year has been the most amazing year, by far. But also, this year I’m kind of realizing there’s only so much I can do on Instagram. I can post pictures but pictures are just pictures of just me posing. You’re not really getting to know me, the way I would love.
How would you like to be known?
To be honest, I just want to be known as I am. You get to know me through answering comments and the captions and things like that, but you don’t really know me with anything else. You don’t really know the expressions or the gestures I use; all of those little things. I want you to get to know more about me because I think that is the next step with my following in order to get closer with each other, once you know my more natural face rather than my posing side and modelling side.
In an ideal world, would Instagram’s format change in that same way?
Yes. I’d love for Instagram to become a positive social media like that. It would be amazing. But, this is a superficial world and all you can do is realize that is not true and not let it affect you. It takes time.
You can change your own site though?
Yes, exactly. Even if it’s just by me. But right now, I feel like I’m not changing anything. I feel like I’m being very superficial as well, with only pictures, so right now, I am not feeling like a part of the change. That‘s why I’ve been wanting to do YouTube videos. Right now I’m taking classes on editing, so, hopefully, within a couple of months, I’ll be a pro in it.
Let’s talk a bit about fashion next.
Perfect – a topic I love.
What does fashion mean to you?
I just love fashion. When I go somewhere and I’m dressed much better, when I feel good in my outfit, I know my day is going to be a lot better. I’ve seen the way people react to you, just because of the way you present yourself. It can be very different. That’s your power, you have it and that’s a fact you need to be aware of. If you go somewhere dressed in sweatpants, maybe you’re not going to get the same result as you would have, if you’d gone dressed a bit better. I think that’s very powerful.
There are sides of fashion I don’t like so much. Such as the way they don’t recycle at all, it‘s really f**king up the world. I’d love for fashion to become a bit more affordable. Or, they could provide more second-hand outfits or make the stock they didn’t sell, available to other stores with better prices, so fashion can be more affordable. The whole idea that in order for you to be fashionable, you have to have money, I hate that. It’s a lot harder to be fashionable without money, than with money. In order to dress in designer clothes, you have to be aware of places that sell second-hand. I just wish it was a bit easier.
I love fashion because it just makes me happy. And I love modelling even though I’m getting a bit tired of it. It’s always been so much fun for me to just go to photoshoots, with crazy outfits and crazy shirts, and all this different stuff. It’s always made me so happy.
Even if it is stressful putting so much energy into doing things for Instagram, you still enjoy doing photo shoots?
Yes, in the moment of shooting I love it! Even if I’m wearing high heels that are killing my feet – I’m loving it. But, I think I’m going to start pulling away from modelling. I’ll continue to do photoshoots but I really want to become more natural. I want you guys to have more pictures of me just walking in the street on a normal day, not with full make-up on but more natural. I think it represents me better, too.
I understand you were born in the capital of Mallorca?
Yes, I was born in Palma. In all honesty, my childhood was pretty much like a bubble. We lived in the same house and never had many changes because my parents have always been together. I had a pretty stable childhood, which I’m thankful for because I didn’t have to worry about many things. I went to the same school since I was one year old, with the same people, to the very end of High School.
I’ve always been very fluid and queer and I’d always speak the way I wanted. When I was very happy you could always tell. I was bullied a lot during middle school because of my queerness. I had to understand that Javi, this is actually a problem for you now because apparently, they’re not going to accept you. They are making fun of you for just being you, so maybe, you should just hide yourself a bit more to disappear in the crowd. That was something I did for a couple of years and that is not the way to go, I realized that within time because it only brought me unhappiness. The bullying eventually stopped because I had relationships with girls, and everyone just assumed I’d just be feminine but not gay.
The people, who bullied me at first, became my best friends by the end of High School. That really helped me understand what they’re laughing at. They’re not making fun of my persona for being gay, they were just being childish. Once they got to know me and who I really was, they loved me. It was very helpful for me to understand, they didn’t hate me for being gay, they were just being ignorant. That really taught me that once people know you and once you educate them that being gay is not actually what they think or what they’ve heard, it’s actually something much more amazing, it’s something they’re going to cherish with you.
So, what took you to Alaska?
My Dad studied in the United States for a couple of months for his internship, so it was very important for him to make me experience life in the United States. They [parents] were so generous that they paid for this program which enabled me to go to school and live with a host family internationally, for one year. So, I moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 2015. It was amazing!
You were first offered a host family in Florida but you turned it down. What’s the story there?
It would’ve been easier to go to Florida for sure, but I didn’t want it. It would’ve been too much like Mallorca. If I’m only going for a year, I want it to be a much more different experience. I’ve never wanted things to be easy, things are only going to give you satisfaction if you work hard for them. So, it’s really important to remember that and always work hard for everything you want.
So, you chose the more difficult route?
Yeah, I always take the most difficult road because the easy road is not the best road. But, if there is an easy road, take the easy road [laughs].
They found me another host family [in Anchorage]. The wife was 75 years old and my host father was 85 years old, so they were like my grandparents. I also had a host brother, another international student. His name is Abdullah and he’s from Yemen. We were together for that whole year and became very close. We shared a room and had many fights, just like any brothers would have, but we still talk, to this day. Sadly, the situation in Yemen is currently very bad, they’ve been through wars and huge crises. He’s texted many times saying, I think this is my goodbye to you. Thank God, he always comes back and he somehow survives. This is so inspiring to me because we shared that year together and now, we’re in such different realities of the world. It’s just very interesting to think about.
The whole year was just a very cool experience; the whole American experience. I loved the language. While growing up, my parents always taught me the importance of speaking another language and knowing about America. They’ve always idealized America. America is such an industry of making money and it was very important for me to learn that.
Do you think the same way as your parents?
In some parts. In some others, I’ve learned America is not great for many other aspects. It’s great if you want to make money, become very rich and powerful and have a lot of materialistic things. But, in terms of relationships with people and being more stable… There’s this phrase I learned through my experiences in America, “American people live to work and Spanish people, or European people, we work to live”. We’re able to enjoy every day. Somehow life is just easier in Europe and I am able to make more meaningful connections. We live much closer to each other. I can go visit my friends just by walking 10 minutes. For me, it was always a bit hard to make many informal relationships in the United States, since I didn’t grow up with that American culture.
How was it different from Spain?
What I first saw that’s very different, is the way they raise their kids. In a way of like you need to make your own money and every time a kid asks for money, they would remind him that this is our money. That was very interesting because since throughout my whole childhood, my parents’ money was my money. Do you know what I mean?
Yes, family taking care of you. You’re part of the family.
Yes, they’re for sure going to take care of me because they’re my family. Then in America, they let you know taking care of you, is costing them their money. I think it’s a good way and a bad way. It’s good because it teaches you to work hard from the very beginning and it’s bad because I just think you should be able to count on your family when you need them. They should have your back. They shouldn’t raise you up, letting you know how much money you’re costing them because you’re just growing up. It’s your job to grow up.
In America, I learned the value of money. You have to make your own money. Everything was more expensive: hospitals, education, everything. But also, there’s a lot more money that you are going to get paid, out of the job you do. I benefited a lot from that because when I ended school, I got jobs right away and I didn’t stop working. While my friends, I have many friends who are 23 years old, haven’t graduated from school yet and have not worked a day in their lives. This is the difference in the education system; the American is much more flexible. I would’ve never been able to graduate college in two years here in Spain. You can’t edit the program to your needs. In America and in most places in Europe, they allow you to have some flexibility. That flexibility is none, in Spain. Also for getting your first job it is easier to start getting internships and jobs in the United States while studying. I’ve never been an intern for free. That’s so amazing to me, it gave me lots of rewards; all of my efforts is being paid. Here in Spain, I never would have had the job positions that I did in the USA. There aren’t as many opportunities here to grow your experience when you are just starting.
A social difference would be people. It’s just harder to make connections. I can be talking for hours with a Spanish person, in America, it’s just a bit harder. Maybe, it was because I wasn’t able to express myself as well as I could in Spanish. That was just another challenge I found but by the end of the whole experience in L.A., I did make lots of them [connections], which I am very happy for.
What did you do after Alaska?
After Alaska, which was an amazing year, I went back to Spain. I finished High School and then went to Madrid because I thought what I wanted, was to study law. I really thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I went to The Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros (CUNEF) but I hated my whole experience. It was worse than High School. They were so close-minded; they didn’t accept any queer culture at all. I wasn’t out at the time. I pictured my life, how it would be if I stayed in that school. It wouldn’t have been the life I wanted because I would not have been able to allow myself to be who I am. I wanted to be happy expressing myself as a gay person and I just I didn’t see myself doing that there.
You didn’t like the subject?
The subject was fine because I didn’t mind studying. I’m smart, I can study whatever you give me. What I didn’t like, is that the whole work field of law is full of toxic masculinity. I just didn’t see myself there. I finished that year and I told my parents… Well the reason, the actual reason, why I went to the United States is because I fell in love in Madrid, with an American.
Yes, during that year I was studying law, I met my first boyfriend. He did an international program here in Madrid and that’s where we met. Then he left during the school year. He lived in Colorado Springs, an hour away from Denver. I was so unhappy in Madrid and I just wanted a way out so, I decided I’m going to go where he is in Denver. I found this school that was beautiful, pretty affordable and they accepted me. Everything was in order. Then I went to my parents. They didn’t know anything about this. I knew, if I went my parents like, “Hey, I want to study in the United States but I don’t know where, I don’t know what school, I don’t know anything.”, they wouldn’t have allowed me to. Because, they wanted me closer, just to change schools to another one in Spain. But, I wanted a whole new country where no one knew me; where I could be a new person, someone that was true to myself.
So, with everything in order, I went to my mom. I told my mom and just cried, “Mom I’m just so unhappy here in Madrid. I can’t see myself growing here and becoming the person I want.” She asked me, “Why do you say that?” And then, that’s when I came out. That’s when I told her, “It’s because I’m gay and in my school, I’m not seeing myself coming out and being a happy person at all. I haven’t been happy this whole year. I’ve been crying almost every day.” It was a process for her to understand but they’ve always loved me, no matter what. They’ve always told me no matter what, you’re our son, we love you. They’ve always been very supportive. They accepted the whole thing and I moved there.
In Denver, I broke up with my boyfriend during the first year of college. Also, during the first year, when I was studying international business, that college closed. They sent a message, Hey, we’re so sorry. This school’s going to close. We’re going to find you another school to go to. That was another huge change for me but it gave me assiduity and I graduated from college in only two years. It was a four-year degree but I wouldn’t leave during summers I would stay continuing my studies.
Why did you choose an international business?
I didn’t really know what I wanted. I knew I wanted something international and something where I’d be able to use both English and Spanish and something that would allow me to travel. That’s why I chose it.
During the second year, I was working full time. I’d go to work from 9 to 5 and then have class from 6 to 9 p.m. That was my life. I didn’t socialize very much at my school, in my college years. I didn’t make many friends. I had a lot of time for myself and I used it for myself, I didn’t waste it. It’s always been very important to me to show, I’m capable. To show either my parents or the world, I can do this, I’m independent.
Was it the right choice to choose international business and go to Denver?
I think it was the right choice. I’ve always thought, there was a deeper reason, why I had to be in the United States. That deeper reason came when I met Adam [Lambert]. Then I understood, this is the reason why. My years in Denver were pretty hard. When I moved to L.A. and met Adam in the first month and experienced everything, I was just so happy. I met so many wonderful people. Everything kind of had a sense.
You’re planning to continue your studies?
Yes. I definitely want to do a Masters that specify more in fashion. I really wanted to do it this year, just with whole coronavirus and everything, I decided to wait. I don’t want to do one online because most of my classes in college were online and I didn’t enjoy them as much. For fashion: I want to touch, I want to see, I want to ask. I want to see and learn from someone who has experience in it.
I’m looking at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan. They’re amazing. They have this program that’s for social media and communication in the fashion industry. It’s marketing, communication, public relations and social media in fashion. I like all of that. I don’t really see myself as a designer, I’m more of a businessman.
What would be your dream job after finishing the studies?
Honestly? A dream job would be to work for a good brand. A big brand, one of these brands that allow me to travel and go to their fashion shows. Or, to help a designer I truly believe in, open their own brand and do their whole business side, of the brand.
Are environmental topics important to you?
It’s just so sad how the environment is. How toxic governments are and how corrupted they are. How much they hurt the countries they should be protecting. Their own countries like Brazil, attacking the whole of Amazon. The corruption in people’s minds makes me feel so sad and also, the way they can kill so many animals it is senseless.
Have you tried Beyond burgers? They’re vegetable burgers and they taste just the same as meat. If we’re able to come up with food that can be made so that we don’t have to kill animals and f*ck up the world, why don’t we do it? The only thing we can do is to ask governments and influence people and raise our voices. I just feel like this isn’t enough sometimes and governments are just so corrupted, they’re not doing anything. This is a whole dark thing for me to be honest. I get so sad thinking about why are we like this? Why are we hurting animals when we are smart enough to come up with another way? Why are we so destructive and so awful? What happened to you, for you to be that way? I just don’t know how to make it stop on my own but to speak about it when I have the chance.
As you can see, I feel it’s very important. Every single time I see someone littering any plastic, a water bottle or something, I always pick it up, even if it’s on the street. We really need to start thinking about it. I have a car in Madrid but I never drive it. I prefer to take the metro rather than in my car. The city is already filled with pollution and the metro is so convenient and easy. I understand why people who live far away drive. But, if you have the resources to use the metro, even if it‘s going to take you 10 more minutes, do it, you know? I think it’s very important for everyone to just be aware. First, try to influence others and second, just try to be the best you can be. It’s really not hard. We just need to push ourselves and have a little bit more willpower.
Did you see the plastic in the ocean in Mallorca?
Yes. When the water pushes through some areas more than others and you go to that beach, you can definitely see it’s filled with plastic. A beautiful beach, filled with sh*t. It’s only getting worse every day. It’s just so sad to see the ocean, how it is. I don’t understand why plastic is still legal, why is still being produced?
You took part in the Black Lives Matter demonstration.
For sure. The same way I feel about people that hurt animals or food production poisoning the earth, I just can’t understand why a person literally hates or takes pride in feeling superior to others, by making fun of minorities. The whole idea of the white male, I’m just starting to get so sad about.
Hold on, because I have so much to say about this. I think all of this comes from the ideology of white supremacy. The concept of being white and straight comes from the church. It pretty much comes from these foundations. It’s just so sad. They’ve been set there for so long and we’re now just realizing it. I didn’t know America was so racist, until now, with all the cops. I didn’t know it was this bad but it’s so bad and that makes me so sad. I just don’t understand why people make fun of other people, for just loving a person or just looking a certain way. Why they believe it’s good to think they’re better than others. I’ll always speak about this. I’m always going to shut down any comment I hear, I think is racist or inappropriate.
I think we should always respect each other. Not only with races, with being gay, also concerning women. Why is man like this? Why are white men like this? Why do they have so much power, which affects us so much? Why are we not able to say no, much quicker? How are they not being taught? Trust me, if only women or queer people were allowed to be the CEO’s, this world would be much better.
If some other group of people had power. Would they be the same?
Well, it makes me really sad to think all this hate and all this toxicity is inside every one of us. I think it comes from a place of jealousy, of not doing something with your life that you wanted. Maybe being bullied… I think it comes from something that builds up and creates hate. Then you have so much hate inside of you, you’re so toxic inside. You’re showing it all through your racism and homophobia. You think, only you deserve to be the best. I think you’re hurting because inside, you know you’re not the best. You were just being taught you are. I don’t think it’s inside of me and I want to think it’s not inside many of us. I think all this hate comes from something that builds up through your life. That’s the reason why you always have to do what’s important to you, to be true to yourself and just accept others. It’s really the only way to be happy.
In all the movies, within 10 years, there will be LGBTQ+ representation and more people of different races, if you don’t like it, you’re losing and you’re going to lose soon. The movement is only getting bigger. If you don’t accept us, we’re going to make it impossible to live a life without having to learn about racism, homophobia and white supremacy.
Is it different in Spain?
No, I don’t think it’s different because Spain is a very Catholic state. We were very religious. We still are but not as much now as we used to be. People are very conservative. In Spain there’s a lot of old people in the cities, they still have a lot of influence. When I’m walking around with my boots, I see everyone looking at me and I know why they’re looking at me. There’s still so much more work to be done. It’s really the only thing you can do, to show them who you are. They’re going to love you, for who you are. Like I said at the very beginning about my school, that’s when I learned, being yourself is when they love you. So just be you.
You mentioned movies. Do you think they’ll have an effect on opinions?
Yeah, of course. We learn from movies, that’s really where we get a lot from. So actually, now it’s great because they said any movie that doesn’t have race or LGBTQ+ representation won’t be allowed to be nominated for the Oscars. So that’s huge and it’s only going to get better. So yes, I definitely do think they help because they educate.
How do you think movies should portray people from groups like LGBTQ+ or racial minorities and does it have an effect?
I’m very tired of movies that show gay people only as the black gay kid who’s super funny. Or in the past, they used to show movies where the gay was always unhappy. All the best years for a gay person come after they come out. So really, I want them to portray us as who we are. More natural characters, more chilled characters.
Representation of minorities should be made known to the masses through the movies. Because, through movies, you’re able to feel what the character is feeling and you’re able to have sympathy for them. You’re able to understand what other people are going through, that’s beautiful and very powerful.
Movies about LGBTQ+ are very often about the difficulty of coming out?
Right. You really are going to be the happiest once you are your gayest. It’s important to show in the movies that the worst part is coming out, then after the first months, you feel like a brand new person and the person you were always meant to become. It’s also important for every school to have a class where they teach you about diversity, how it matters to understand these things and about homophobia.
My YouTube Channel, you know, is only going to be about my friends and me. So, normal and just a lot of fun surrounded by gay, amazing and inspiring people. I want other gay people to know that it’s okay, don’t worry so much. It’s a very big, important part of it.
You’ve said it’s important to you that every one of your followers feels equal.
Exactly. It’s very important to me, that everyone feels equal. I want everyone to feel the same love they’re making me feel. My Instagram is already all about me because of the pictures I post. It gives me lots of comforts to be able to also connect with people and not make it all about me but make it about something else. Make it about a group of people that connects with each other, with each post.
I guess I just want to give back and the more, the better. The only way I can give back is by giving you the same love, you’re giving me. I’m obviously not going to accept hate. I’m not going to accept hate between you guys either, like jealousy or bad vibes. I don’t want you to make fun of the other’s comments. I don’t want it to become a negative space. I want it to be a safe space where, if you want to post, post. The only thing you’re going to receive from the post is love. That’s very important to me.
I really like beautiful comments, but I also very much love when a comment is a bit sassy and a bit funny, we can have fun with each other in a positive way, like making jokes as well. What I want you to know is I’m always going to react either with humour or with love. I’m going to love you back or make a joke to your joke. I’m never going to get mad; I’ve been through a lot, it will not hurt me. Even if you’re giving me hate, when I read it, I hope you know I’m going to laugh. At the end of the day, I’ve received so much more love than hate, that hate just becomes 1% of it.
I want you to know I’m here for you and I’m never going to make fun of your comment. I’m always going to be serious and respectful and give the same love to you, with kindness and acceptance.
Javi Costa Polo on Instagram
Interview by Leena Kaikkonen
Photo credits: Alba Gisbert, Ana Martínez, Tyler Rowell, Raúl Rosillo