Despite a long history of being mostly white and cisgender, the modeling industry has been changing. This year, it seems the industry’s standard-bearers have taken up the mantle, diversifying their versions of the idealized beauty. Here are two of the faces they are choosing to lead the way.
Aaron Philip (left)
Aaron Philip’s emergence in the fashion industry is revolutionary. As a person who lives at her intersections (Black, trans, gender noncomforming, uses a wheelchair), it’s unheard of for a person like Philip to be accepted into the business. And yet, here she is, signed by Elite Model Management, doing her first runway show for Willie Norris, and chatting with Naomi Campbell for magazine covers. But right now, she’s just happy to graduate high school. “I’m not interested in being sensationalized or patronized because of what my identity is objectively,” she says, pointing to Rihanna and the star’s Fenty brands as what true diversity and inclusion look like. “I am a teenage girl — a woman — with a job, who’s in a wheelchair, and comes from a family of Antiguan immigrants who now live in the Bronx. That’s it. I want to have access to the opportunities that any model in high fashion can have and to live my life authentically as who I am — without question or buzzwords.”
Teddy Quinlivan (right)
Teddy Quinlivan has walked for them all: Louis Vuitton, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Dior, Saint Laurent, Prada. Just a few years back, in fact, she seemed to be walking her way straight to supermodel status, her shock of red hair slicked back, her strut one of the best on the runway. Then, in 2017, she revealed to the world that she is trans — and refused to stop making strides. “I think I get a lot of recognition for the work I’ve done since I came out as transgender, like somehow when I came out, that was when I became successful,” Quinlivan says. “The reality is, I was very successful as a model prior to coming out; that wasn’t the catalyst for my success.” Quinlivan has since revealed she feared the career ramifications of coming out. But after booking a Chanel Beauty deal that debuted this fall — a gig most models would consider the golden ticket of the industry — it’s abundantly clear that her success will only continue to leave stiletto prints in the history books.
This piece was originally published in this year’s Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.