Beyoncé has added a new face to flaunt her latest "Formation" merchandise on her website, and that beauty is Jillian Mercado, a blogger turned model who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a child.
"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," Mercado wrote with a photo of herself rocking a gray sweater that says, "I Twirl on Them Haters," and a white "Hot Sauce" hat.
(And yes, there's a tote bag that says "I Got Hot Sauce in My Bag" along with some other must-have items.)
Mercado, who has modeled for Diesel under Nicola Formichetti and Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book, signed with IMG Models in August 2015.
She told Vogue at the time that fashion was always something she was extremely passionate about, but was skeptical about immersing herself into a world she wasn't sure would accept her. "At first I was very hesitant," she told the mag.
"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."
However, friends convinced Mercado to share her stories, and that's when her blog Manufactured1987 was formed. "A friend told me, ‘Jilly, if anyone needs to write about their experiences, it is you, because I've never seen anyone who pushed the stereotypes in a positive way more than you have.' Her words pushed me to put myself out there."
The New York native added, "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."