April Lockhart desires to alter Style TikTok’s picture

After sharing particulars about her life on the web for over a decade, April Lockhart determined to formally set her sights on what she thought of one of the taboo topics within the fashion world — incapacity.

“I really feel just like the disabled neighborhood remains to be one factor that’s generally taboo [in fashion]. Not that it’s nonexistent in advertising and marketing, however I feel it’s one of many final items of the puzzle that we haven’t all found out but, or we don’t know the way to strategy,” the 26-year-old Nashville content material creator informed In The Know. “After I have a look at folks to comply with who seem like me, I really feel like there’s actually nobody.”

Lockhart, who presently does communications for the clear beauty model Ilia whereas additionally curating her fashion-focused Instagram account with 33,000 followers, made her first foray into on-line posting in highschool over 10 years in the past, when she started sharing music on YouTube.

“I used to be very way more into the YouTube music scene and going to Playlist Reside, which was a YouTube convention — I don’t know if it nonetheless exists, however it was type of like VidCon,” she defined. “I used to be taking part in guitar one-handed and piano — and that was type of how I birthed my web presence, primarily doing cowl songs.”

Being 15 and posting music movies on YouTube, Lockhart stated her incapacity was on the forefront of her on-line presence. She was born with amniotic band syndrome — which is a uncommon situation when bands from the amniotic sac get tangled round a rising fetus — and so she doesn’t have a left hand.

However by way of her on-line neighborhood that’s been rising during the last 10 years, Lockhart stated she by no means felt a have to attempt to cover her incapacity.

“I haven’t identified anything,” she added. “Clearly, once I was doing music, there was actually no hiding it.”

At 17, Lockhart participated in a now-defunct ABC expertise competitors referred to as Rising Star. Along with her expertise, one of many causes she stood out from the competitors was her wild vogue sense.

“My outfits … have been simply fairly insane — like house buns, checkered skirts and simply loopy outfits,” Lockhart stated. “I positively was all the time into [fashion], however I feel I simply determined I used to be extra captivated with vogue and beauty than I used to be with music.”

Since graduating from the Style Institute of Know-how, Lockhart has grown her on-line presence to revolve round vogue and wonder. In the beginning of 2022, she took a second to consider how she match into worlds like Style TikTok, which predominantly options white, cis-gendered, non-disabled our bodies.

TikTok fashion trends like cottagecore and darkish academia have been criticized previously for being centered round whiteness. Different critics have debated whether or not what’s thought of “trendy” in mainstream media is only called fashionable because it’s on a skinny model.

In 2020, incapacity advocate Keah Brown began the hashtag #disabledandcute to spotlight disabled individuals who love vogue and wonder. In an essay she wrote for The New York Times, Brown stated, “Three a long time after the passage of the landmark People With Disabilities Act, disabled folks need to have the ability to have freedom of self-expression by vogue fairly than accepting scraps from an trade that has been very gradual to embrace us and our wants.”

Two years later, whereas Lockhart can see the strides the trade has made by way of advertising and marketing and actively attempting to be extra inclusive, she nonetheless feels just like the disabled neighborhood is “the final piece of the puzzle.”

“My arm is a really current factor that type of speaks to me day-after-day … It’s like, ‘that is who you might be, that is a part of your function,’” she stated. “I really feel like I actually need to speak about this. If I’m not going to do it now, when am I going to do it?”

That’s when Lockhart began including “Normalizing disabled fashun girlies in your feed” to her outfit movies. The easy textual content addition drew lots of of recent followers who flooded Lockhart’s DMs and inbox with messages about how vital her movies are.

“Even within the few weeks that I’ve been doing this, the messages that I’ve acquired from folks in comparable conditions or dad and mom of younger kids that even have one arm or [are] in wheelchairs and issues like that — it’s so superb,” she stated. “If I can assist folks, even when it’s just a few folks, [it’s] so value it.”

Lockhart additionally observed that various followers who had been along with her for years informed her they didn’t even discover she was disabled till she added the textual content or wore a sure outfit.

“[It’s] vital as a result of disabilities are available all sizes and styles, and a few aren’t even seen,” she defined. “It’s attention-grabbing as a result of whereas [my arm] is just not essentially the most noticeable incapacity, it positively feels very noticeable to me … I simply wished to type of name consideration to it and in addition simply normalize it.”

Brown additionally wrote in her New York Occasions essay that she went by durations along with her incapacity the place she wished to persuade herself that “vogue didn’t matter.” That’s one other mindset Lockhart desires to dismantle along with her posts — that vogue isn’t a meaningless or shallow realm however fairly a supply of confidence and empowerment.

“All through this complete collection, whereas incapacity is certainly on the forefront, and illustration is on the forefront, I additionally don’t wish to belittle the ability of outfit,” she stated. “I really feel my greatest once I’m in an outfit that makes me really feel good and that additionally empowers me.”

For Lockhart, that outfit seems like a pair of cowboy boots and a blazer — ideally one from Anine Bing. 

Extra from In The Know:

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