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A black, trans, disabled model just landed her first magazine cover

A black, trans, disabled model just landed her first magazine cover

Aaron Philip just scored her first fashion magazine cover for Paper | Picture: Instagram

Aaron Philip, the first black, trans, and disabled model to sign for a leading agency, has now ticked another amazing achievement off her to-do list; score a major magazine cover.

The 18-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy, is on the cover of New York City-based Paper magazine for the first of seven Pride month covers this week.

Philip previously made history last year when she joined the iconic Elite Model Management.

What happened?

In what might be the most aggressively glamorous shoot of all time, supermodel Naomi Campbell interviewed Philip, whom she describes as ‘my hero’ in a tweet unveiling the cover.


Wearing a feathery, four-color jacket by American-Nepalese fashion designer Parbal Gurung and Gentle Monster sunglasses, Philip was photographed by Myles Loftin and Tiffani Williams styled her.

Hair, makeup, and nails were finessed by Evanie Frausto, Raisa Flowers, and Yuko Wada respectively.

In addition, Philip made her runway debut this Fall/Winter 2019/20 season at the Willie Norris fashion show last week.

The inaugural show of the designer’s first unisex collection, the walls vibrated in vivid glee when Philip debuted in her queer-rock gear abd red lip.

‘I was hyper-aware of my disability’

Belting out Solange Knowles tunes throughout the shoot, Philip later sat down with Campbell. Two generations of models bridging a new era.

‘I was always very aware of my identity as a person in a wheelchair [growing up],’ she said. ‘And I later became more aware of my transness eventually, but more than anything, I was hyper-aware of my disability.’

Furthermore, identity, visibility, and authenticity are the fixtures of Campbell’s questions. On the latter, Philip expressed her fears about being defined by her past; both experience wise and her own image.

‘When you search me up on Google, you’ll see: “Aaron Philip: the trans, disabled model” over and over and over again,’ she said.

‘And you’ll see old pictures of me, two years back, where I didn’t look anything like I look like now as an 18-year-old model who is now signed. And people still hold on to that image of me being younger.

‘I want nothing more but to live my life authentically and to be seen professionally and personally as literally a Black girl in a wheelchair from the Bronx, and a teenage girl who is turning into a woman or whatever that is.

‘I want to be seen equal, Iwant to have the equal opportunities that any other woman would have in life itself, I want to have those experiences.

‘I want to have normalcy.’

On fashion diversity 

‘It has gotten a lot better,’ Philip posited. ‘But I still think there is a lot of improvement needed.

‘I would now like to see the diverse models get the same contracts as their counterparts.’

Moreover, Phillips is the apex of a fashion scene that is shifting and adapting. With trans-inclusive lingerie hitting online racks, non-binary designers, and asexual models being increasingly centred, fashion is changing and, like Phillips, it’s not looking back.

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