Fashion Model & Activist
Jillian Mercado is an American fashion model represented by IMG Models. As a wheelchair user (due to muscular dystrophy), she is one of the few professional models who has a physical disability in the fashion industry. A prominent figure in the new wave of models challenging beauty ideals in the fashion industry, Mercado is keen to fight the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the fashion industry and their enduring stigma.
Mercado uses her platform to push for greater representation in the industry, saying in an interview with Bustle “I just hope that [underrepresented people] see themselves in me, in any way possible.” Her activism, which focuses on the intersection of gender and disability, has included working with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018 to reduce inequality, one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.