Like it or not, fashion has a long-standing history of being exclusive. I’m not talking about expensive designer clothing (though, access to affordable, sustainable clothing is a whole different issue), but rather, representation in the industry. Only in the past few years have we seen massive strides toward inclusivity—from Black leaders revolutionizing how talent is hired to the launch of more size-inclusive labels. But possibly the greatest purveyor of change has been social media. As an editor, I can’t lie and say I don’t see social media as a force of good and evil. In fact, I cringe every time I see a TikTok where someone has spent an egregious amount of money on a fast-fashion haul only to ditch the pieces a month later. (It will never sit right with my soul.) But a subset of fashion influencers are using their platforms for good, and April Lockhart happens to be one of them.
Lockhart isn’t another Instagram or TikTok star—far from it. The first time I stumbled upon the Nashville-based lifestyle creator and clean-beauty expert’s profile, I wasn’t drawn to her because of her colorful ensembles (though, that helps) or even her devout love for the Who What Wear Collection. Instead, her video series entitled Normalizing Disabled Fashun Girlies is what hooked me. You see, ableism is a rampant part of society despite the fact that over 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability. Ableism convinces us that this community is on the “margins” and that we could never develop disabilities later in life, be prone to accidents, or even know someone struggling with their mental health. And this ideology seeps into every part of our culture, including the fashion industry.
In fashion, it’s still rare for a collection campaign to feature models with disabilities, and it’s far less common for a fashion brand to include adaptive pieces in their collections that work for individuals with sensory issues, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities that make dressing a challenge every day. So it’s pretty groundbreaking within that lens to look at all the work Lockhart is doing. She’s not only using her platform to destigmatize disabilities, but she’s also having fun while doing it. You can understand, then, why we had to interview her. Ahead, you’ll hear from her about everything from why she started posting on TikTok to which spring trends she’s most excited about. Her work is a vital reminder that changing the narrative can be done one post at a time.