Rebekah Harding

Meet Aaron Philip — The Disabled Model That Went Viral

With her love for all things fashion and activism, Aaron Philip (@aaronphilipxo), has taken to twitter to share her passion with the world. Hailing from the Carribean Island of Antigua, Philip is a 16 year old aspiring model and creative based in NYC. This POC, physically disabled, non-binary femme, model is ready to take the fashion industry by storm and smash the currently strict and exclusive beauty standards that are held by so many companies today. She is currently a junior in high school, and attends NYC Lab High School for Collaborative Studies in SoHo. Just by looking at her work, you can tell that she is ready to change the world one outfit at a time.

What sets you apart from others?

“I really value kindness, love and warmth. I make sure to put and manifest this type of energy into everything I do and transfer it to all who come into contact with me. Everything I do is out of love, and I always want to support those who I love/love me.”

Everything I do is out of love, and I always want to support those who I love/love me.

What got you into fashion and modeling?

“I’ve always had an affinity for fashion being that it’s very much a top tier outlet for marginalized identities to come and express themselves through the making, wearing and celebration of fashion. It’s always been an outlet for me personally of self love and confidence. But what got me into modeling was the fact that I’ve seen such limited representation for those like me who are black, LGBTQ and disabled in beauty campaigns, editorials and the runway. I want to challenge that and make change. I want to make my own beauty standard.”

I want to challenge that and make change. I want to make my own beauty standard.

What is the hardest part about modeling for you?

“The hardest part about modeling for me is trying to get signed and noticed by agencies. I know I’m enough, but it’s hard to feel like that in the face of all the strict requirements and rules that are set in place for agencies who do online submissions, such as height and body measurements.”

What changes would you like to see in the industry?

“I want the industry to realize that beauty is everywhere, and could be in anyone. I’ve never understood why models only seem to be valued when they’re white, tall, able-bodied and cisgender. Beauty doesn’t have a face, and identity doesn’t dictate somebody’s beauty or worth. Value and give a platform to whom are deserving of it. Get out of your comfort zone.”

Value and give a platform to whom are deserving of it. Get out of your comfort zone.

What are your goals for the future and how do you hope to get there?

“My goal for the future is to genuinely become a successful, famous supermodel. It sounds pretty greedy in theory, but I want to do this as a statement. The lives and statuses of people who are black, trans, and physically disabled are not appreciated or seen as having any meaning or purpose to most of the world. This must change. If I can use my platform and get famous and successful from this, I’m going to simultaneously uplift and amplify the voices of my community and those I love with my stature. I’m dreaming big, to do big, and give back.”

If I can use my platform and get famous and successful from this, I’m going to simultaneously uplift and amplify the voices of my community and those I love with my stature.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I’m a proud native of the island of Antigua! It’s a small, beautiful island in the Caribbean, and i was born there. I came here to the US when I was 3, and have been living here ever since.

Who is your favorite model or designer?

I have many favorite models and designers, haha! But to keep it short, my favorite models right now are Naomi Campbell, Hunter Schafer, Duckie Thot, Slick Woods and Jazzelle Zanaughtti. They’re all so beautiful. I’ve truly never seen anybody like either of them! Their individuality is precious, and it’s what makes them so beautiful and sought after. I love to see them thrive! My favorite designers are Shayne Oliver of hood by air/helmut lang (at the moment), Eckhaus Latta, Gucci, Comme Des Garcons, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Dior, Chanel, GCDS, Rihanna, and Louis Vuitton.

In fact, Aaron Philip’s love for Duckie Thot seems to have paid off as her drive to get signed with an agency earned the attention of Duckie Thot on twitter.

Where do you find motivation when you’re feeling discouraged?

I find motivation from my friends and community on social media. My motivation, inspiration and drive comes from all the creative, nurturing energy I surround myself with, through my close friends and loved ones. They’ve all become so invested in wanting the best for me while allowing me to keep my head on and make my decisions for myself. That’s very special to me. My closest internet friend Amari Ferguson (@neptuneprince) and i have known each other for 4 years as of right now! We’ve had our come up, glow up, everything together, and we’ve yet to even meet face to face! Amari is an extremely talented 3D artist, and having an artistic best friend is incredibly healing and joyous. I’m grateful for him everyday. I also find motivation from my beautiful family who support me in all my endeavors.

My motivation, inspiration and drive comes from all the creative, nurturing energy I surround myself with, through my close friends and loved ones.

On twitter, you seem very calm and collected even when “haters” write rude comments. How do you stay confident?

“Confidence truly is the biggest part of beauty. And I don’t let anybody dictate my beauty. So when trolls or really bitter people have something to say, I don’t let them hurt me anymore. Instead, I reassert my beauty and my worth to their face and keep it moving!”

I reassert my beauty and my worth to their face and keep it moving.

What advice would you give yourself a year ago?

I don’t necessarily think I would tell myself anything, to be quite honest. Time and sequence are some of the most wild things ever! Last year I was in no way ready or mature enough to be doing and handling what I am now. I had my aspirations in mind, but they weren’t ready to manifest. I had so much growing to do mentally and emotionally before I could even think of pursuing a career like this. Everything happens in time and space for a reason!

What advice would you give to others who are interested in entering the modeling industry?

Try your best, and put your foot into doing what you love, because everybody will come around and feel your energy. If you want to be a model, it’s because you know you have the sauce, and that you’re beautiful and capable of doing it! There are also so many ways to be a model, as well, so take your time, experiment and work hard at it. Support others and support yourself, involve yourself in everything! Know your stuff and do all your research on what you need so that you don’t look goofy. Get your headshots done. Show everybody what you have to offer, because there’s no such thing as being obnoxious in the world of fashion.

If you want to be a model, it’s because you know you have the sauce, and that you’re beautiful and capable of doing it!

If you could design your own brand, what would it be like?

If I could design my own brand, it would be a direct representation of my own personal style except amplified and dramatized. It would be very, ~goth, angelic, y2k high fashion hood princess~ vibes, hahaha! Lots of diamonds, satin, gold chains, and chokers!

Who is your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is my mother, Lydia Philip. She is just a true genius. She taught me that I can do literally anything if I put all my energy and confidence into it. I love her forever and always.

Besides modeling and fashion, what are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate in digital art, photography, writing and social rights advocacy! As a creative, I invest my time into pouring myself into as many outlets as I can. Photography has been a profound source of self expression, and a view into how I perceive my world.

If you weren’t pursuing fashion and modeling, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t pursuing fashion and modeling at the moment, I’d want to be a prominent social rights advocate. I think I already am, but if anything, I’d dedicate myself to it a lot more

Any closing remarks?

Just grateful for everything and the support of everyone who’s come to love and appreciate what I’m doing. My heart is so full, and I’m very excited to see what the future holds!

Overall, it is so clear that Aaron Philip has a passion for sharing love with the world and her heart is filled to the brim with compassion and drive. As she continues to pursue her dreams, she has our full support. I’d like to thank Aaron Philip from the bottom of my heart for participating so wholeheartedly in this interview and for taking the time to answer all of the interview questions I had for her. She is such a gem and wonderful to work with.

You can find more of Aaron Philip’s work on instagram (@aaron___philip).

All pictures are the property of Aaron Philip. Headshots taken by Jasmine Weber.

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