Aaron Philip has broken down barriers, seen and unseen, and made history by becoming the first black, transgender, and disabled model to sign with Elite Model Management, one of the top agencies in the fashion business. Elite clients have included supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Adriana Lima and Tyra Banks.
Born with cerebral palsy in Antigua, West Indies, Aaron now calls a beautiful apartment in the Bronx, New York, home. But the 18-year-old, and her family spent two years homeless, due to financial hardships as a result of enormous medical bills.
Now, she is one of only two models in wheelchairs signed to a major modeling agency (the other is Jillian Mercado), and Aaron sees it as “both very empowering and sort of terrifying.”
Writing about her mission for Them.com, she explains that realizing her dream is less about getting booked to wear her favorites, Miu Miu, Chanel, Dior, Calvin Klein and Prada, and more about the mission to make sustainable changes in an industry that is still not known for fully embracing diversity. It is a mission that has been waged by former model, activist and agency owner, Bethann Hardison and founder of Harlem Fashion Row, Brandice Daniel.
"I enter the fashion world with intentions of making the industry more diverse, inclusive and accessible," Aaron writes. "I have never seen a physically disabled supermodel or a Black transfeminine model heralded, celebrated, or even working in the way other models are and I hope to change that."
She continues, "The lack of representation and visibility in fashion has deeply affected me throughout my life, and has driven me to take matters into my own hands to carve a space and try to provide opportunity for members of my community in this field. And while this might sound inspiring to some, to me it's simply a matter of showing the world something different, and opening people's minds, especially in fashion, where there's a fine line between art and consumerism."
We believe Aaron Philip is exactly what the fashion world needs and we celebrate her.