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Aaron Philip: Meet the disabled gender-fluid teenager changing the world of modelling

'My disability is a part of me, but it does not define my whole identity'

Sarah Jones
Thursday 24 May 2018 11:53 BST
Aaron Philip wants to change the face of modelling
Aaron Philip wants to change the face of modelling

When it comes to modelling, we’re often faced with one narrow type of beauty but Aaron Philip, a disabled, gender non-conforming teen, is out to change all that.

Born in the Caribbean island of Antigua, when Philip was just three-years-old their parents moved the family to the United States in a bid to find better medical options to assist with their quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Fast-forward and now, at only 17-years-old, Philip is on a mission to bust stereotypes, embark on the career of their dreams and change the world.

Back in November of last year, Philip tweeted pictures posing in their wheelchair with bleached hair and a nose ring alongside the caption: “Honestly when I get scouted/discovered by a modelling agency it's over for y'all!

“By y'all I mean the world! It's real inclusivity/diversity hours folks, get into it!”

Subsequently, Philip’s tweet went viral gaining more than 89,000 likes, 23,000 retweets and hundreds of supportive comments.

In fact, it took off so well that their prediction of becoming a world-renowned model came true and they have since starred in photoshoots with everyone from Paper Magazine to online retailer ASOS.

So, what sparked the tenacious teen’s ambition to become a model in the first place?

According to Philip, it all started when they saw Kylie Jenner’s controversial Interview cover in 2015.

“When I was younger… I was excited about the image and representation [disabled people] were getting because we just saw a wheelchair in general,” they told Them.

“But I didn’t know how to take it, because I didn’t see that she was using our image to fetishise us.

Interview/Screen grab (Interview/Screen grab)

“[Later] I was thinking, 'Where were all the other people with disabilities in chairs in the shoot?'’”

Speaking to Paper Magazine, the young star added that they find the idea of being a muse to others and proudly being yourself one of the most beautiful aspects about a career in modelling.

“I personally want to become a successful, acclaimed, signed model in order to dismantle negative stigma that surrounds the community and spaces I'm a part of — with me being Black, physically disabled, and trans,” they said.

“I want to be involved in everything from runways to beauty campaigns to magazines because I know my perspective should matter as long as I'm confident and beautiful.”

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