Aaron Philip, the first black, transgender, and disabled model to sign for a top agency, graced her first major magazine cover on June 24, 2019.
The 18-year-old shared her news on Twitter that she will grace the cover of the July issue of Paper Magazine. In the tweet, Philip cited all of the people who made it possible: Myles Loftin, who shot the cover photo and supermodel Naomi Campbell, who conducted the interview. She also gave credit to her stylist, makeup artists, hair stylist, and nail tech.
Philip was the first model to appear on a series of seven covers by the magazine, all honoring Pride. The other cover stars were K-Pop idol Holland, Carly Rae Jepson, pop band Muna, Drea and R. Kelly’s daughter Jaah Kelly, Janelle Monáe, and Andy Cohen.
In less than two decades, Philip has led an extremely interesting life. Antigua-born Aaron has blossomed while living in the Bronx, New York, and pursuing a career as an artist.
In 2016, Philip co-wrote an autobiography titled “This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (NOT Disability)” with award-winning author Tonya Bolden.
According to its description, the book includes photos and original illustrations from Aaron’s personal collection. It details “Aaron’s extraordinary journey from happy baby in Antigua to confident teen artist in New York City. His honest, often funny stories of triumph—despite physical difficulties, poverty, and other challenges—are as inspiring as they are eye-opening.”
Still today, she is exactly that: inspiring and eye-opening.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Philip Was Diagnosed With Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy as a Baby
According to a video by Now This Entertainment, Philip was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy when she was a baby. However, that did not stop her from purusing a career in the modeling industry, which is notorious for displaying a lack of diversity.
Philip said she wants to take on runway, editorial and beauty campaigns becuase there is so little representation for people with disabled bodies, Black, transgender, and non-binary people. Being at the “intersection” of all of that, Philip has never seen herself properly represented and is feircely working to change that.
In the video, Philip talks about her path through sexuality. She came out as gender-fluid at the age of 14, however, she later recognized herself as feminine non-binary because she didn’t identify with masculinity or gender-neutrality. Philip currently identifies as a non-binary trans girl.
“Gender is a big painting,” Philip says.
2. Philip Went Viral on Twitter in November 2017
“honestly when i get scouted/discovered by a modeling agency it’s OVER for y’all!” Philip wrote. “by y’all i mean the WORLD! it’s real inclusivity/diversity hours folks, get into it!”
To date, the post garnered almost 100,000 likes, more than 20,000 retweets, and over 250 supportive comments. The virality of her post helped kickstart a life-changing career for the young Antigua-born model.
“This makes me so incredibly happy,” Mandy Mateer commented. “As a fellow wheelchair user, it’s nice to see someone using assistive devices getting the spotlight for once! We need more inclusivity.”
3. Philip Signed With Elite Model Management in September 2018
“i’m signed to @elitenyc!” Philip wrote. “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.”
According to Paper Magazine, Philip singing with Elite made her the first Black, transgender, disabled model to sign for a major agency.
The contract has catapulted Philip into the spotlight and will allow her to become a force in the fashion industry. She has already inspired many people.
“I was reading your interview for Paper today and I was just so in awe of you and your determination to pursue your dreams and claim your place in an industry so reluctant to shine the spotlight on girls like you, when girls like you are exactly the kind of beauty we are longing to see/the kind of voices we are aching to hear from,” Sarah Diver commented underneath Philip’s latest Instagram post.
4. Philip Went to Prom on June 19, 2019, Dressed in Marc Jacobs
Most high school girls go to prom in cheap dresses and heels, and they do their own hair and makup. Not Aaron Philips. She went to her school’s prom dressed in Marc Jacobs, styled by Greg Fricke, and glammed by Remi Odunsi. She posed with her “favorite human being,” her brother Aren.
“truly the most unreal night and process of getting everything together,” Philip wrote on Instagram. “i’m truly over the moon still to say the very least. i had such a special time. forever and always grateful to my heroes at @marcjacobs @themarcjacobs for letting me represent them, and especially on such an important night in my current life.”
Philips looked absolutely stunning in the stunning pink Marc Jacobs gown with her blonde hair styled in a blunt cut bob. For her, prom was definitely a night to remember.
“Looking GORGEOUS!” Marc Jacobs replied. “I’m honored.”
5. Philip Graduated High Shool On June 27, 2019
Philip shared a photo on Instagram posing in her green graduation cap and gown, holing a single white rose. The next day she posted another picture, this time from her Paper Magazine shoot.
“ok hold on… i really graduated high school and had my first major cover all in one (this) week… i feel like i’ve been in school forever and it’s done now wow lol.” she wrote in the post.
Philip said she started her modeling career when she was a junior in high school.
“i was freelancing and knew absolutely nothing about anything but i would come home from school and spend endless nights pitching emails to modeling agencies about why they should take a chance on diversifying the industry. two years later things are happening that i could have literally never dreamed of.”