Model Behavior

Black Trans, Differently-Abled Teen Signs With Elite Models, Making History

"I'm so excited and grateful to work hard and share this new chapter of my life with you all."

In November 2017, Aaron Philip shared some test head shots on Twitter and wrote, "Honestly, when I get scouted/discovered by a modeling agency it's OVER for y'all. By y'all I mean the WORLD! It's real inclusivity/diversity hours folks, get into it!" Less than a year later, the 17-year-old from the Bronx made history as the first Black, transgender, differently-abled person to be signed with Elite models.

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Philip has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair. She "identifies as a gender-nonconforming trans woman who uses she/her pronouns." 

Back in November, her original test photos went viral. Philip told A Plus at the time, "My interest in modeling is driven by seeking positivity, [and] to bring visibility to myself and those in my position who are Black, physically disabled and/or trans in the world of art/fashion through being seen and represented as muses. I want to make my own beauty standard as a person who claims several marginalized identities, and be able to amplify the voice of my community as an aspiring supermodel."

The teen's following on social media continuing to grow, expanding from 6,000 in November to over 30,000 as of September 2018. On September 1, she announced her history-making signing with the modeling agency. 

"I'm signed to @elitenyc! ☺️❤️ I'm still so shocked and just at a loss for words tbh 😭💕 I want to express my deep gratitude and thanks to angels @hookerthebooker & @richiekeo for believing in me, my vision and taking a chance on introducing another type of diversity in this industry with and through me. 💖 Thank you so very much to everyone who has supported me since last November, before that and throughout my life! This hasn't been an easy journey at all, but we did it! I'm so excited and grateful to work hard and share this new chapter of my life with you all."

The aspiring model had her first photoshoot with Elite in August and they planned to send out her photos to different designers for Fashion Month.

Philip's agent, Richie Keo, told The New York Times that he hopes Philip's signing is the start of many inclusive bookings. "I think it's really great to be able to share that with the world and open other people's eyes that beauty isn't just, you know, a 5-foot-10-inch, size-zero model," he stated.

In an essay for Them, Philip detailed what the historic signing meant to her. "I enter the fashion world with intentions of making the industry more diverse, inclusive and accessible," she proclaimed. "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 continued, "This 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."

"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."

Take a look at some of the shoots Philip has participated in so far:

(H/T: Refinery29)

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