Meet Chloe: Extraordinary Human and Disabilities Advocate
part of the Your Potential Is Limitless Cause Campaign. Read More →
Chloe Ball-Hopkins @chloe_ballhopzy
Q:Tell me a little bit about your story and journey through life so far.
A: So I was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis, which led to many operations over the years. I was also diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy at four years old. That's the formal and official diagnosis of my conditions anyway. But what this means day to day is simply that I am not as physically strong and use a wheelchair most of the time to get around. Over the years I have had some incredible experiences (beyond sport and fashion) through my charity involvements. So many people seem to feel sorry for me and my circumstances but I genuinely love my life and the things I have achieved with it despite all the hurdles and limitations the world has tried to throw at me. Due to having Sepsis in December 2019, and my condition affecting my respiratory system, I have had to shield during the pandemic. This has meant being at home for pretty much the whole of the last year. Yes, this has meant I have missed out on many things but it was all to keep me (and my grandparents who I live with) safe. I have still been working the whole time and completed a degree in Media Production so I can definity say I made the best of the situation.
Q: What are some of your favorite experiences being an athlete?
A: For me, sport initially was an escape from school and bullying, sadly. Yet very quickly it became something I enjoy and somehow was good at. I have tried wheelchair tennis, basketball and racing over the year, but it was archery that won me over and I pursued. My journey getting into archery was a whirlwind. At the start of 2013 I hadn't really done much and by the end of the year I was in the Great Britain Squad training for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. I won a bronze medal at my first European Championships and broke a number of world records too. Sadly just before Rio qualifiers I injured my shoulder (badly) which resulted in surgery. By the time I had fully recovered I needed to have my hip replaced so it took me until the start of 2020 before I picked up my bow again. Within a matter of weeks it was like I had never been away. That is when I started to shield, but I plan to get back to it as soon as it is safe to do so and try and qualify for the Paralympics in Paris 2024. For me, my favourite part of being an athlete, is all the people you get to meet along the way. I have met some incredible athletes, across so many sports, all with amazing stories and journeys. That is absolutely the best part!
Q: Why do you believe it’s important to make the world a more accessible and inclusive place for those living with disabilities?
A: I am a firm believer in the fact that it isn't your condition, your crutches, your wheelchair etc. that disables you in this world. It is society. It is people, and places, that limit you. I said in my TED talk that 'people's perceptions need to change to eliminate limitations' and I still stand by this. Discrimination, exclusion and inequality come from that lack of understanding. That comes from people learning and adapting, and I don't just mean putting lifts in a building or getting a ramp. This is individuals taking the time to realize that people with disabilities are able to do so many things when the environment they are in is accessible to them.
Q: How did working on the clothing production with ASOS inspire you that change and inclusiveness can happen?
A: Working with ASOS was incredible and I still struggle to believe at times that it was me that got to do that. It definitely feels like it was a dream sometimes. I think if anything though, in hindsight, it taught me how much more there is still to do to make the world a more inclusive place, the fashion industry included. I have spoken with other clothing brands and companies since and no one seems to want to do anything about making clothing more inclusive, despite how simple it could be.
Q: What was your favorite part about working with the team at ASOS?
A: The team of people who I worked with at ASOS were phenomenal. It was a collaboration in all senses of the word right down to the pattern of the material used for the jumpsuit. They took onboard everything I suggested and the jumpsuit was exactly how I imagined it to be. It's just a shame that other brands aren't willing to do the same thing with more essential day to day clothing because I have all the designs ready!
Q: Have you still been designing clothing that is inclusive for all humans?
A: So I cannot answer this question in full yet BUT I have been liaising and working with a lady who is designing and releasing an inclusive clothing line very soon. I will be the Brand Ambassador for this new company and I cannot wait to be able to share it with people. I am still, and always will be, keen to do more though and I hope more companies and brands want to do more in the future.
Q: What are some ways that the fashion industry can be more inclusive of all humans?
A: I cannot speak for all humans necessarily, but I think making the fashion industry more inclusive isn't just about making the clothing itself more suitable for people with disabilities. Some clothes that clothing brands produce do happen to work for people with disabilities, its just really hard to find it when you shop online. Where there is an option to click for petite, tall or curvy/plus size, there is should be an option to 'Click for Inclusive' as I am calling it. So that all the clothes that companies have that happen to work for people like me are easy to find and try. The clothes aren't perfect or purpose made but it is certainly the middle ground and something that I could easily help brands and companies implement.