Margaret Eby
July 22, 2014 1:49 pm

Meet Jillian Mercado. She’s a 26-year-old model and fashion blogger with short blonde hair, occasionally shot through with lavender streaks. She’s the star of Diesel’s “We Are Connected” campaign and Nordstrom’s new summer catalog. And she’s in a wheelchair.

Mercado, who has spastic muscular dystrophy, has been in a wheelchair since she was 12-years-old. But it hasn’t slowed her down. She writes about style and fashion on her blog, Manufactured 1987, and began modeling earlier this year when she was selected to be the face of Diesel’s latest denim campaign. “She’s totally fearless and has really been an inspiration to me,” Nicola Formichetti (who styled Mercado and 22 other models for the campaign), told Women’s Wear Daily. “You don’t have to be a conventional model type to represent a brand.”

Now, Mercado has another gig in the summer Nordstrom catalog, a job she booked after a representative saw her doing an interview on the Today show.

“I believe that there needs to be more diversity in the way models are represented in fashion,” Mercado told Identities Mic. “Because at the end of the day, they are selling clothes, and if you as the consumer can’t see yourself in those clothes, something is wrong.”

We agree. We need more diverse examples of beauty in ad campaigns and we need more representatives, like Mercado, who are aware of the importance of challenging the status quo. Mercado’s work is another signal that the fashion industry may be broadening its conventions and making room for new, inspiring talent.

“It’s pretty much a unexplainable feeling knowing that all your hard work has an unbelievable pay-off,” Mercado wrote in her most recent blog entry. “This just shows you that anything in this world is possible, with a bit of hard work you can move mountains.”

Congratulations, Jillian. You’re making us all proud.

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