The Trans Disabled Teen Model Shaking Up the Fashion Industry


In November 2017, Aaron Philip tweeted, “honestly when i get scouted…by a modeling agency it’s OVER for y’all!’s real inclusivity/diversity hours, folks.” Little did Philip, who was born with cerebral palsy, know that months later, in July 2018, she would make history as the first black, trans, disabled model to sign with Elite Model Management. But while she cites icons like Naomi Campbell as inspiration, most of Philip’s life looks less than glamorous: Her family was homeless just a few years ago, and she admits that her parents are still struggling to come to terms with her gender identity. Looking ahead, however, she is set on creating change for other marginalized people. In her own words, “I no longer feel isolated in these spaces, because I know that my presence is unique within itself, and if anyone were to be negative, that would simply be ableism.”

For Further Reading

While this year’s New York Fashion Week was the most diverse on record, the crowd off the runway is looking stagnant. Find out more in the New York Times.

Discussion Question

Beyond issues of representation, why do you think voices like Philip’s are so needed in the fashion industry? What changes and perspectives do you hope they can bring?

Action Item

Philip credits her success over the past year to putting her goal into the world via Twitter. Think about a dream you’re chasing, and share it—on social media, with your mom, with the stranger sitting next to you. It’s amazing what can happen when you are confident and own your ambitions.

Read more on VICE / Image: Matthew Tammaro