For my next post in this series about figures in the fashion industry, I wanted to spotlight someone more current. Aaron Philip is a rising model who is transgender and uses she/her or they/them pronouns. She has made waves in the modeling world by being the first model who is black, disabled, and transgender to be signed to a Elite Model Management.
Philip’s career took off in 2017 after her tweet went viral. She was only 16 years old at the time, and has made many appearances since then, most notably with Paper Magazine.
Aaron Philip was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler in Antigua before her family moved to the Bronx for better opportunities for Aaron’s healthcare, where they have lived ever since.
Philip was first inspired to start modeling after seeing Kylie Jenner’s infamous shoot with Interview Magazine. The cover was the subject of much controversy when it was published in 2015. On the photoshoot and how it spurred her modeling career, Philip said: “When I was younger…I was excited about the image and representation we were getting because we just saw a wheelchair in general. But I didn’t know how to take it, because I didn’t see that she was using our image to fetishize us. [Later] I was thinking, Where were all the other people with disabilities in chairs in the shoot?”
Now, Philip is an example of the new perspectives people are looking for in the world of fashion. She pointed out that the disabled community rarely sees representation in the world of beauty and fashion, and are often overlooked. She has worked with multiple magazines doing interviews and photoshoots, as well as work in print ads and across social media. One of her most famous shoots was with ASOS. Philip hopes to eventually branch out into runway modeling as well. Philip says that she is “not an activist” , however that she advocates for many social justice causes and wants to be an example of representation for disabled people in the media.
Aaron Philip, and many other up and coming models, are redefining what the world of fashion considers to be beauty, and I hope to see this continue. Voices like Philip’s provide a unique perspective to the world of fashion and will allow the industry to evolve with the times. Other models like Slick Woods, Winnie Harlow, and Leslie Irby are also redefining the idea that models need to be tall and thin.