Photo above courtesy of Tony Duran, Wikimedia Commons.
By Narissa Van Cooten
Pride Guest Columnist
Beyoncé has hired Jillian Mercado, a model and activist with muscular dystrophy, as one of the faces of her new “Formation” merchandise campaign.
Mercado was “born disabled – due to an accident during birth which led to her having spastic muscular dystrophy – and [has been] in a wheelchair from the age of 3,” Mercado wrote in ELLE back in 2013.
“I could never help but see things differently. But my reaction wasn’t what you’d expect.”
“I didn’t try to disappear, make myself bland so that no one would notice me and therefore my wheelchair, or try to fit in with the crowd. I actively didn’t want to fit in. I wanted to be accepted for being me,” she continued.
However, Mercado is no stranger to the modelling world. She’s an IMG model and was featured in Diesel and Nordstrom campaigns.
The modelling industry is seriously lacking in the diversity department but Mercado says she’s learned that the industry is “built on looking different, on standing out.” Therefore, it’s so important that we realize that diversity doesn’t only include race but disabilities as well.
“I plan on sticking around for a long time and people are starting to accept that I’m not going anywhere. So love me for me or close your eyes, because I’m here to stay,” she wrote in ELLE.
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