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Aaron Philip becomes the first trans and disabled model to sign with Elite

Written by gaytourism

Black, trans, and disabled model Aaron Philip recently signed with Elite NYC

Aaron Philip — a black, transgender, and disabled model — has recently signed with Elite Model Management.

Elite NYC represents some of the top models in the fashion industry.

Philip’s reaction

On 1 September, Philip tweeted her excitement at the news.

Philip’s essay

A few days later, she penned an essay for about the experience.

‘I enter the fashion world with intentions of making the industry more diverse, inclusive, and accessible,’ Philip 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. This lack of representation and visibility in fashion has deeply affected me throughout my life. [It] 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. 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.’

‘As a person, I wear my identity on my sleeve. Coming into this industry as one of two models in wheelchairs signed to a major modeling agency (the other being my angel & good friend Jillian Mercado) while being Black and transfeminine 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.’

Worries and fears

Philip goes on to detail all the worries swimming through her head about next steps. She wonders which designers would be bold enough to hire her for their shows.

‘As excited as I am, this is all new to me,’ she explains.

‘I know that because of my appearance, my disability, and my identities, I may be boxed into a position where I’m either seen as unique and fascinating, or straight up not what a casting director or designer may be looking for. More than anything, I can only pray for success and happiness within my career and the goals I intend to achieve. I don’t want signings like mine to be a trend or a fad. I want careers for Black, disabled, and trans models to be attainable and sustainable.’

‘While I work toward my goals, it’s nice to reflect on the fact that I’m here to celebrate myself, my communities, and my friends who work in this business. I’m so very honored to be chasing and achieving my dreams. I hope that one day soon, trans and disabled models will be able to reach the level of success any other talented and hardworking model can. I won’t settle for anything less.’

‘See you on the runway.’

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