Kintsugi Clothing, an inclusive fashion brand, interviewed Hannah Cockroft as part of their #Unbroken campaign. Hannah opens up about high heels, Paralympic success and frustration over Tokyo 2020 being postponed.
Speaking as an ambassador for the adaptive fashion label, Kintsugi Clothing, as part of its #Unbroken campaign, Hannah Cockroft spoke of the hurt she felt as a young teen, having seen her best friend wear high heels for the first time.
Listening to her mum explain that she would never wear a pair of heels counted as one of the Paralympian’s darkest days. But, it also led to acceptance of the differences and difficulties she’d conquer to become the world’s fastest wheelchair racer.
The 26-year-old, who lost the use of her legs during two cardiac arrests at birth, recalled: “My best friend got her first pair of high heels and I was like, ‘Aww, mum, let’s go shopping, let’s go get some’. She literally had to sit down with me and say ‘Look, your splints are not going to fit in a pair of high heels. You are never going to be able to wear them.’
“For a long time femininity was shown through a heel, you know, it was beautiful to wear a high heel. My friends all pulled around me. Just be honest that you’re upset about it, accept that it’s a part of you and actually you’re going to make your own style and love it as you grow up.
“I used to really hate my back. I thought, ‘It makes me look fat. It makes me look really disabled’. But I’ve learned to enjoy that part of me. It’s very unique. It’s kind of cool.
“But no one is perfect, nothing is perfect. When you discuss perfect in terms of the way you look, actually, it is what you want to be. Perfect is just being happy within yourself. It’s just being you.”
Soon after her mother’s words, Hannah committed herself to the sport which would see her break world records and take five golds home to Leeds from the London 2012 and Rio 2016. But the Paralympian was reluctant to try it out at first.
She told Kintsugi Clothing: “I was 15 and I hated wheelchairs. I saw them as a sign of just disability. That was all it was to me and I wasn’t disabled in my head.
“I got invited to a talent ID session where I saw wheelchair racing. I didn’t really want to try it. The chairs didn’t look comfortable. It didn’t look like a bit of me. My dad being a typical Yorkshireman said, ‘we’ve driven 100 miles for this so you’re going to get in that race chair and you’re going to push it’. And it’s the best thing he ever did.
“I got in the race chair and immediately fell in love. It was a feeling of just freedom that I’d never had before. The racing chair showed me actually they are a sign of independence.
“For the first time I didn’t have to hold on to an adult’s hand. I didn’t have to worry about tripping over my own feet and I could get places quickly, which was something I’d never done before.
“Those feelings just stuck with me and I wanted to do it every day. That was it. I was hooked.”
The wheelchair racer is currently in training for Tokyo 2020. Postponed due to the world’s coronavirus pandemic, her Paralympic Games will now take place in the summer of 2021.
Hannah said: “I was understandably, pretty gutted when it was announced that Tokyo 2020 was to be postponed. But it’s for the right reasons.
“I’ve worked hard for four years to make sure I was ready for this year and I got a great winter behind me. So, I felt a little lost when the plan and schedule that I’ve worked from was taken away.
“I’m trying to see it as an extra year to get even stronger, even faster and hopefully for the Games to be even better. I’m still training as much as I can from home to be ready as soon as we’re allowed to hit the track.”
You can watch the full video interview here:
Kintsugi is an inclusive clothing brand that makes designer apparel accessible to disabled women through universal design features. While bought by non-disabled women too, discreet facets including magnetic fasteners, zip pulls, sleeve pulls and relocated pockets add the small design details needed for all women to enjoy Kintsugi’s fashion ranges. Founded in 2017, by Emma McClelland, the disability-conscious clothing company is supported by many high profile figures in the disabled community. They are currently running a campaign series called #Unbroken.
Kintsugi’s CEO Emma McClelland said: “Our ‘#Unbroken’ campaign shows disabled and non-disabled women that feeling broken can lead to greater things. We’re delighted to have Hannah as an ambassador because she is inspirational. We hope her honesty will help women accept any predicament and make something beautiful from it.
“Bringing these conversations to mainstream attention is an important part of our purpose. Kintsugi makes designer items that are suitable for all women, only adapted for disabled women through small details like magnetic fasteners and zip pulls. We make beautiful clothes accessible to disabled women and help non-disabled women live in a more inclusive society.”
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