Jillian Mercado, the New Yorker model with muscular dystrophy who burst onto the international fashion scene after a Diesel advertising campaign in 2014, has inked an exclusive contract with the prestigious modeling agency IMG Models.
“I goddamn love my body, a lot,” she said in a recent interview with Vivala. “I love it so much I eat very healthy now… I try to go to the gym like twice a week. I wear whatever I want to wear. I am obsessed with makeup. I have a very, very awesome life now and I am very happy with everything that’s happening because I worked so hard to get where I am.”
Mercado, a 28-year-old fashion blogger, is among a growing number of models with disabilities being embraced by the fashion industry. She joins models like Madeline Stuart who has Down syndrome and Viktoria Modesta who uses a bionic limb. They are challenging the standard conventions of beauty that have reigned over the fashion world for decades.
With IMG producing New York’s Fashion Week in September, chances are good that Mercado could soon be spotted on the runway. Ivan Bart, the president of IMG Models, is excited to represent Mercado. “Look at those pearly whites. Look how she wears makeup. She’s Latina, she’s fierce, and nothing gets her down. It’s a great opportunity for us,” he says.