Aaron Philip's Impact on the Modeling World

By: India Roby

Aaron Philip for VICE, photo by Marion Aguas

We are often exposed to a Eurocentric concept of beauty, but Aaron Philip is breaking boundaries in the fashion industry. She is a 17-year-old black, trans-disabled model from the Bronx who was recently signed to Elite Model Management NYC. Elite is known to have discovered and represented notable models including Adriana Lima, Giselle Bundchen, Naomi Campbell, and many more.

Photo: Twitter

Her modeling career all began with a tweet from last November stating "honestly when I get scouted/discovered by a modeling agency it's OVER for y'all!" Little did she know, that tweet would gain thousands of impressions, becoming her most famous tweet. Soon, she was noticed by Duckie Thot and Tyra, published in Paper Magazine and Asos, signed a modeling contract with Elite NYC, and the list goes on. 

Aaron Philip's first cover for In Magazine

However, it wasn't easy for Aaron. She was born with cerebral palsy, which is a physical condition that affects motor skills. Her family also experienced financial adversity due to expensive medical bills, which resulted in living in shelters for a couple of years. Despite her hardships, Philip continues to be an advocate and inspiration for minorities who want to be represented. 

Fashion is slowly but surely becoming more inclusive, but it still has a long way to go. The industry still lacks to represent both the disabled and trans communities. Aaron tells Metro, “I want to be a model because I grew up with such a keen interest for fashion, runway and styling yet not once did I ever see people with disabilities in any fashion magazines or on the runway or even represented as beautiful in the first place.”

Aaron Philip for Elite Development

These days, it is more than just a pretty face. Susannah Hooker, Image Director of Elite Model Management, explains, "Models also have a social responsibility, as they are increasingly becoming influencers, particularly to the younger generation."

That's not an issue for Aaron. In her interview with Them, she says, “Coming into this industry… while being Black and trans feminine is both very empowering and sort of terrifying. And like any other model, I have many aspirations. Fashion is important to me because it’s the ultimate form of conveying self-expression and toying with gender. The possibility of creating opportunities for disabled and gender-nonconforming people in high fashion is what excites me about being in this industry.” 

If there’s anything to learn from Aaron, it is that perseverance goes a long way. She is helping the fashion industry expand their standard of beauty and by doing so, she serves as an inspiration for many. She is the future of fashion.