Jillian Mercado, the 23 year old model and editor and founder of Manufactured 1987 is featured in StyleLikeU ‘s “What’s Underneath Project”. The “What’s Underneath Project” has select individuals remove their clothes to honor how style is not the clothes you wear, but rather, what’s underneath.
StyleLikeU: So you should just talk very freely, don’t edit. Just, you know, we’ll edit and just let yourself just roll. You’ll, whoever ask the question you can talk to. At the end of each question you’ll just take a piece of clothing off.
Jillian Mercado Voice: Ok, I have one, two, three.I can take one shoe…
StyleLikeU: Are you ready? What does your style say about you?
Jillian Mercado: Confidence. I like attention but not in the bad way, attention like I am here, I am present, this is me, deal with it, kind of thing. That’s how I dress. People have stereotyped me into this notion that I can’t have style. But, I don’t care.
StyleLikeU: Were you born with your disability?
JM: It happened during birth, The doctor dislocated my hip, and that kind of fucked everything , I can curse right?
JM: That kind of fucked everything up. They diagnosed me with cerebral palsy and then when I was like 14 13 they figured out that I didn’t have cerebral palsy, that what I actually had or have is muscular dystrophy.
StyleLikeU: Take your time, no stress. soemthing off. Take your time. And we can help, do you want help? And you can just like drop it.
StyleLikeU:: How do you express yourself? Through clothing and style?
JM: Trying to travel as much as I can. This year I’m going to London in July .My mom has always raised me to be very independent, but something I that I have never been independent with was traveling.So one morning I just woke up and I’m like
I’m going to California alone for a week. Even like getting in line and you know checking in my suitcase and that whole process. If something were to happen,. I could do this ,you know. What’s the next thing that I should do alone?
StyleLikeU: Can you talk about the biggest insecurity that you have to overcome?
JM: Um, Yeah, actually ,showing my legs, being in a skirt right now, is like whaa.
StyleLikeU: Do you ever feel insecure ?
JM:(shakes head no) I actually get mad when people question when I go out. Even the simple notion of dating . People are like what – but how do they- do they have to be careful. It’s almost like I am an art exhibit or an alien.
StyleLikeU: Do you need some help? Should I hand her like the shoes or something, hand them to her?
StyleLikeU: Do you feel- you need the help right?
JM: I usually have this like stick to my thingy, but I just..
StyleLikeU: Can you do both?
StyleLikeU:Can you talk about when you feel most vulnerable?
JM: When somebody pushes me. But, like literally push, in like the chair. Today I brought this chair, I have this other one that’s a manual chair, that I can’t push myself that somebody pushes me. And that’s where I feel my most vulnerable. Even the simplest thing as going to the kitchen or the restroom or my room, wherever, I have to ask somebody. Um, and I’m not, I’m not really used to asking for anything.
StyleLikeU: When do you feel the most beautiful?
JM: When I went to Venice I went for a fashion show and right out of the airport it’s my billboard , um, for the campaign I did. And I was like, whoah, I look so beautiful there. It’s always really hard to, um, just look into the mirror and say wow I’m so pretty today. But, I think that moment kind of triggered, kind of triggered something.
StyleLikeU: What do you want to…
JM: Do I take my skirt or my shirt?
StyleLikeU: Do your shirt first?
JM: Oh shit I forgot my hair.
Woman: That’s okay. It stayed perfect.
StyleLikeU: It’s Beautiful.
StyleLikeU: Can you talk about, I mean, it’s sort of endless with you, but like how you’ve turned your struggles into strengths?
JM: I think I woke up and I was like I’m so over this. I’m not going to sit in a corner all my life, just crying about something that I really can’t change. And it’s who I am and that’s it.
StyleLikeU: How old were you?
JM: I was ending high school. Everybody around me was very like, going through just like weird phase of insecurities and just really bad times and I was over that. I let them go and then I let that part of me go. I think, this is pretty close to what I say every day , just love life, that’s it. No matter what obstacles or no matter what comes my way.
StyleLikeU: Okay tell me what I need to do.
JM: And I wear it backwards because it shorter.
StyleLikeU: Awesome. Beautiful.
StyleLikeU: Can you talk about, um, why it is beautiful and perfect to be in your body and in your skin.
JM:If you have big boobs embrace it, if you have big thighs do it. I mean, you know, it’s really boring to see the same people. So if you’re different that’s
sunlight in somebody’s world.
StyleLikeU: Perfect. Perfect ending. That was amazing and you are so incredibly beautiful.
I’m like sweating.
StyleLikeU: I’m going to take photos of you now and