Aaron Philip Covers Paper Mag, Talks Image and Identity With Naomi Campbell

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 25, 2019

Bronx teenager Aaron Philip turned the fashion world on its head in September 2018 when she became the first Black, trans disabled model to sign with a major management company. This month, Philip, who has cerebral palsy, has been blown up to billboard-size dimensions for a new Sephora campaign and she had her first runway show with Willie Norris. Now, she is part of Paper Magazine’s seven-cover Pride campaign.



In the issue, released Monday (June 24), legendary supermodel Naomi Campbell, who was the first Black woman to grace the cover of French Vogue back in 1988, interviews Philip about her personal and fashion inspirations, the importance of identity and representation and the power of the internet.

“We’re both Black women getting a platform and doing lots of work that should be done,” Philips said of her connection to Campbell. “And we’re being visible in the ways that leave an impact and a lasting impression. We’re garnering success and we will continue to, and with that comes a lot of criticism and hatred. So we have to keep our skin on, we have to keep professional even though we shouldn’t have to because we deserve to express our emotions when we go through these things. It’s just a matter of stepping your foot down and being brave, but also knowing that we are what we are, as we are.”

Philip’s also discussed her outlook on her life and how it led her to modeling:


I was always very aware of my identity as a person in a wheelchair. And I later became more aware of my transness eventually, but more than anything, I was hyper-aware of my disability. I realized there’s no one I see on TV or online or in fashion, on the stage that I love, looking like me. And I knew that was a problem, because I knew inherently, there was nothing wrong with me. I know what people thought of disability and ableism, so I decided for it to become my journey when I was about 16, to actually become a model.

Read the full interview with Campbell here.