The fashion world is taking small steps when it comes to tackling the issue of diversity. There is still a long way to go, but certain women are taking a stand, defying expectations, and breathing new life into an industry that needs a shake up. The modern idea of what constitutes as the “perfect” body shape is old, dated and as unattainable as ever, as model Jillian Mercado proves with her latest campaign.
Jillian uses a wheelchair and has Muscular Dystrophy, but she isn’t letting her condition hold her back one iota; already a successful model in her own right (she’s signed with IMG Models, who also house Kate Moss) she’s teamed up with Beyoncé as part of her new Formation fashion campaign. It’s a fitting campaign for Mercado; Formation is about female empowerment and what could be more empowering than featuring models with an array of differences and abilities?
Disabled models in the industry are a rarity, and with Mercado collaborating with such an influential public figure, there is some hope that a more positive and inclusive light will be shined on the exceptional women (and men) who are working so hard to make their mark. It serves as a reminder that diversity in fashion campaigns means adequately representing people with disabilities, just as much as it does gender fluidity, race and size.
Mercado announced the news that she’s fronting the campaign for ‘Hot Sauce’ caps, and ‘I Twirl On Them Haters’ sweatshirts on Instagram, writing:
“OK LADIES now let’s get in FORMATION!” she wrote on Instagram. “So BEYond excited to finally announce that I’m on the official @beyonce website!!!”
OK LADIES now let’s get in FORMATION! So BEYond excited to finally announce that I’m on the official @beyonce website!!! A special shout out to Queen Bee herself and the amazing team behind it Photography by the most wonderful @danielavesco, Makeup @jamiebeaute, & Hair @jenniferjocelyn #slay #formation #jillianmercado
A photo posted by Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa) on
The petite model was discovered after she answered an open casting call for Diesel after attending college, blogging and interning with Allure magazine and the rest is history though she said she was hesitant about a career in fashion to begin with.
At first, I was very hesitant,” she told Vogue. “I wasn’t sure about showing everyone my world because I didn’t know if there would be an audience. We’ve been brainwashed [as a society] not to care about someone who has a disability, or their world.”
“I was shocked that I didn’t see anyone in the industry who was like me. So when people — girls especially — tell me that I’m their role model, I am taken aback. I love it, and it is flattering, but it affects me on a very personal level because I remember growing up without having a person I could look to.”