NEW YORK (WABC) — Aaron Philip is reshaping the fashion industry.
“People have had to tell me who I am my whole life,” Philip said. “And I’ve had to constantly redefine that.”
She’s serving vibrant looks and attitude, and not letting a disability hold her back.
“Cerebral palsy is different for everyone who has it. For me personally, it means that I cannot walk or bear weight,” Philip said.
She’s a force in the industry, becoming the first Black, transgender, and disabled model to sign with a leading talent agency in 2018.
She graced the cover of Paper magazine a year later.
“We felt and still feel that Aaron is not just the future of fashion, but fashion right now,” said Justin Moran, Digital Director, Paper.
Philip scooped up a fashion campaign ad for Moschino last year and she’s only 19 years old.
“I never once saw anyone like myself who had a disability or who was Black and maybe trans, and the question was why, and how can we fix that?” she said.
Born in Antigua and raised in the Bronx, Philip’s slice of the American dream hasn’t always been picture perfect.
“There are definitely inequities that I face,” Philip said.
“It’s still a rarity, especially when it comes to a disabled model,” said Morgan Schimminger, Editor, theFashionSpot.
Schimminger is the editor of Fashion Spot, which tracks diversity on the runway and magazine covers internationally.
She says 2020 saw a spike in models of color from 43.6% in the beginning of the year to 57.1% last October at New York Fashion Week.
“Of course we need to look at that through the lens of everything that was going on, all the civil unrest,” Schimminger said.
As protests slowed down, so did the number of models of color to 50% last month.
“I want it to be consistent representation because it matters so much,” Philip said.
Philip is now setting her eyes on making sure models like herself are regularly in the spotlight.