We’re still very much celebrating fashion's firsts, like Louis Vuitton having a Black model open its spring 2018 show for the first time in its 163-year history, or Vogue finally hiring a Black photographer to shoot its cover story, because it reminds us that progress is being made. Though there still much discussion to be had about representation of all kinds — race, gender, age, ability — New York Fashion Week is off to a progressive start thanks to Elite New York’s latest signing: Aaron Philip, a gender-nonconforming trans woman with cerebral palsy who uses a motorized wheelchair.
On Saturday, Philip, a 17-year-old Bronx native, tweeted the exciting news. “I'm signed to @EliteNYC. Thank you so much for supporting me through my journey to make the fashion world more inclusive,” she wrote. “This hasn’t been easy, but we did it! I’m so excited and grateful to work hard and share this new chapter of my life with you all.”
i’m signed to @elitenyc! thank you so much for supporting me thru my journey to make the fashion world more inclusive. this hasn’t been easy, but we did it! i’m so excited & grateful to work hard and share this new chapter of my life with you all ❤️🥂 pic.twitter.com/X7d05rS379— aaron (@aaronphilipxo) September 1, 2018
It feels serendipitous that Philip will join a board that includes models like Nina Agdal, Janaye Furman, and Alice First, considering barely a year ago she wrote on Twitter: “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!” Last fall, she shared with her followers she had “bleached [her] hair, and...bought a new wardrobe with the intentions of going viral.”
Now that the internet, modeling agencies, and photographers have taken notice of Philip, her agent, Richie Keo, told The New York Times that it’s now time for the rest of the world to recognize her potential.“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 said, noting that Philip will be available for shows in New York, London, Paris and Milan.
“I just don’t want this to end with me,” she told The Times. “I want to have an impact where other people like me are just going to be the industry, and like it’s nothing.”