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Beyoncé Casts Disabled Model In New Campaign

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Photo: Beyonce.com
Beyoncé has cast Jillian Mercado, a blogger and model with muscular dystrophy, to be one of the three faces for her new online store. Mercado sports some of Bey’s latest merch including baseball hats that read “hot sauce” and jumpers with the line “I twirl on them haters”. The clothing has all been designed around Beyoncé's lyrics from her most recent single "Formation", which caused an online sensation on its release.

The news broke on Mercado’s Instagram account where she wrote: “OK LADIES now let's get in FORMATION! So BEYond excited to finally announce that I'm on the official @beyonce website!!!”

The New Yorker, who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a child, is represented by IMG models, and has been featured in the CR Fashion Book and starred in Nicola Formichetti’s Diesel tastemaker campaign of 2014. At the time, Mercado told Vogue about her hesitance to begin a modelling career: "I wasn't sure about showing everyone my world because I didn't know if there would be an audience. We've been brainwashed [as a society] not to care about someone who has a disability, or their world.”

“When I was younger, I was looking for that role model. I had people who I admired, but there was no one [with a disability] who I could look to. I was shocked that I didn't see anyone in the industry who was like me. So when people—girls especially—tell me that I'm their role model, I am taken aback. I love it and it is flattering, but it affects me on a very personal level because I remember growing up without having a person I could look to.”

Since the images have been shared on social media, Mercado has been actively tweeting and retweeting messages of support and admiration but also drawing attention to the use of the words 'wheelchair-bound'.

These images, much like Beyoncé "Formation" video and Super Bowl performance, are a powerful and hopeful example of how celebrities can use their statuses to ignite important conversations. Slay, Bey!
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