By Ellen Scott, Lifestyle editor
Sunday 3 Jun 2018 10:25 am
It started with a tweet.
Honestly when I get scouted/discovered by a modeling agency its OVER for yall, wrote Aaron. By yall I mean the WORLD!
Its real inclusivity/diversity hours folks, get into it!
That tweet, along with two photos of Aaron in her wheelchair, quickly racked up more than 24,000 retweets and 89,000 likes.
That was back in November. Now, Aarons appeared in ASOS magazine, posed in H&Ms pride collection, and has been featured by everyone from Paper Magazine to Them.
Basically, shes taking over the fashion world.
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! pic.twitter.com/58VOSafAm6
— aaron (@aaronphilipxo) November 24, 2017
Thats a big deal, because Aaron (pronounced A-ron) Philip is not the standard model were so used to seeing.
Shes 17 years old, she identifies as a non-binary transgender girl and gender non-conforming femme (her pronouns are she/her or they/them), shes black, and she uses a wheelchair.
I was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy from birth, Aaron tells Metro.co.uk. CP affects my fine motor skills and general movement, hence my muscle spasticity and depending on my motorised wheelchair to get around.
Growing up and being physically disabled has never been inconvenient for me but instead something I had to learn to navigate.
Ive had my share of really bad experiences – physical discomfort, surgeries, social alienation and feeling very out of place.
It also never helped that I never once saw people with disabilities in the media portrayed in a light that wasnt infantilizing, condescending or generally minor. I knew that it wasnt right, something had to be done and that I would contribute to the change.
Fed up of the lack of representation in fashion and media, Aaron decided she was done waiting around for someone else to sort things out.
She wanted a change in the modeling industry. She wanted to see more people like her represented.
So she decided shed go ahead and do it – shed be in the modeling industry. Shed be the change. Shed represent people who are so rarely represented.
Aaron hopes that by making it as a model, shell shake up the industry and pave the way for genuine diversity in the bodies we see in adverts, on runways, and in the pages of fashion magazines.
I want to be a model because I grew up with such a keen interest for fashion, runway and styling yet not once did I ever see people with disabilities in any fashion magazines or on the runway or even represented as beautiful in the first place, Aaron tells us.
Im at the intersection of being black, physically disabled and trans – all identities that have been ignored in fashion and throughout history as a whole.
My goal is to become a successful model and walk for big runways, be featured in beauty campaigns, editorials and magazines because I know how important representation is.
But I also dont want it to just stop with me. Fashion needs to acknowledge and include the presence of trans and/or physically disabled folks in their conversations and spaces.
Aaron has applied to agencies, but has been ignored or refused. Theres still a lot of work to be done before people like Aaron are seen as options for mainstream fashion shoots.
So for now, shes working freelance, picking up offers as they come in and continually pushing the industry forward; no matter how slow or grinding that progress may be.
It can be really discouraging and sad, but I just keep trying, says Aaron. My ultimate goal is to get signed being that I know of the possibilities that could come from an opportunity like that.
I think the thought of having a model who is black, trans feminine and in a wheelchair is intimidating for agencies, but Im hoping that soon efforts will be made to take a chance on me and any other models like me.
Im going to keep on working freelance until I hopefully get scouted by an agent or a good agency comes my way.
Its public support, and the amazing reaction she receives on social media, that helps Aaron keep going – its clear just how important her work is to so many other underrepresented people.
Im so grateful every single day for the amount of love and support I get from those who support me and follow my work, the model tells us.
Social media is quite literally a community for me where I interact and share my love with everyone on, especially as a teen.
More than anything, I am grateful and humbled.