Jillian Mercado: A New Face in Fashion

August 21, 2019


Model and disability activist Jillian Mercado speaks to THIIIRD about her journey into modelling, her life with muscular dystrophy and how she is using her experience to inspire others.


Interview by Natalie Alleyne

In reverence of the release of issue #4 Access, disabled model and activist, Jillian Mercado speaks to THIIIRD about her journey into modelling, her life with muscular dystrophy and how she is using her experience to inspire others.

Born with the rare muscular dystrophy and growing up a wheelchair user, Newyorker Jillian Mercado had never ‘seen herself’ as represented in pop culture. Despite the devastating impact on self-esteem lack of representation often has, Jillian Mercado alchemised this weariness and became signed by the biggest modelling agency in the world. Having worked with world-famous brands, graced the pages of glamorous magazines and even showcased merch for Beyoncé, Jillian has come into being the once missing link in representation.

Along with her enormous contribution to fashion, Mercado engages in disability activism. She hopes to evoke societal awareness and therefore change, while inspiring girls living with disabilities to also open their wings.


N: Thiiird magazine is split into 3 sections, mind, body, soul. The 3 opening questions are a homage to this tripartite. The first question is, who are you in terms of ‘mind’. What type of person are you?

J: There are times when my mind goes into so many dimensions of thoughts. It’s very complex and misunderstood at times but I am very empathic and sensitive to the world around me


N: And in terms of body?

J: My body has gone through so many alterations as far as my disability goes so scars run through my whole vessel. My body has been very patient with my mind. And with that I mean when you born with the disability it’s very hard to love your body when society finds a way to bring the idea of loving your body down to make you feel lesser.

 

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©2020 by Natalie Alleyne.