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  • Writer's picturePeta

Sophie Bradbury Cox: Living Her Best Rainbow Life

Bringing you some colour this week 🌈

The lovely Sophie better known as @fashionbellee is on the podcast.

Peta and Sophie discuss the importance of fashion when you have a disability, how the fashion industry could be more inclusive and navigating motherhood when you have a disability.

Connect with Sophie:

Contact Peta:

Instagram @petahooke



Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the I Can't Stand podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peter. I'm your host. I have cerebral palsy and I love to answer your questions. This week I am so excited for you to listen to and I know I say that every week, but I have a very, very important reason why. Sophie, better known as Fashion Bella on Instagram, is basically my doppelganger. Not only does she look like me, we're very similar. We both love fashion. We both have disabilities. We both use electric wheelchairs. And I just frankly love this chat. I'm going to stop blabbing on and hand you over to Sophie.

Sophie [00:01:05] Hi, I'm Sophie Bradbury Cox, also known as @Fashionbellee on Instagram. And yeah, I'm from the UK. I have a disability called spinal muscular atrophy. I have Type three, which is also kind of known as the mildest type. I've had it since birth. It's a genetic condition and it means that I use a wheelchair full time so I can't walk or stand at all. Yeah. I became a mum to Zyra in 2020. So right when all the pandemic went crazy, I was having a C-section and giving back to the IRA.

Peta [00:01:41] Do you like being in a wheelchair or do you find it really annoying?

Sophie [00:01:47] I think that's pluses and minuses to both. I think it really kind of makes me me. I don't think I'd be without my wheelchair anymore, without my disability. It kind of defines me in a way, but in a good way. Yeah. I think some of the frustrations come from the world and the accessibility of the world. That kind of is the bad part of it. But then that obviously isn't anything to do with me, that there's things that need sorting out. Elsewhere. But yeah, I. I don't mind being in work. I think it's. I think it's great.

Peta [00:02:24] It's certainly interesting, like regardless of, you know, where people live and who I talk to on here, many of us have the same sort of viewpoint with disabilities. Like, I like using my disability as a part of me. I see it as a positive and it's just part of my personality and the negatives. Quote unquote, negatives of having a disability really aren't because of my disability. It's the way the world is constructed. From my perspective, and I know Instagram isn't reality, but I feel like you're living your life to a pretty full extent regardless. Like, is there anything that you think you've missed out on with having a disability?

Sophie [00:03:08] Not really. I think travel sometimes, I think, would be much easier if I didn't have a disability. It'd be nice to think I could just hop on a plane and go to Spain for the weekend or anything like that because it's not a big long flight or but it kind of my disability then thing. I think, oh, that not practical. Like there's so many things taking into account that that kind of just stop me in the way. But my most of life, I just, I just do it. I just think I'm not going to let it stop me. It's going to be it might be a different way round to what other people might do things, but I just do it in my own way and and get on with it, basically.

Peta [00:03:48] I love your Instagram. I've already said that before we started recording. I really resonate with the way you present yourself with fashion and colour and all those things. Why did you start content creating?

Sophie [00:04:01] I think I mean, really, it started because I love fashion. I've always loved fashion since I was a child. And then kind of social media started getting bigger and bigger. And I'd never seen anyone kind of in mainstream media or in magazines and things growing up ever in wheelchairs. And then when when Instagram particularly came about, it was kind of like, oh, see, I can I can show off my style. I can show off myself in a wheelchair, and that's a good thing. And it kind of was like, actually, I could really use this in a positive way to show other disabled people and also. Able bodied people as well. But disabled people can be fashionable because I think there's almost like a stereotype of what a disabled person should be like. They shouldn't be able to wear fashionable clothes or short skirts or whatever else. And it's kind of like, actually, no, I can I can challenge those stereotypes and and show that we don't have to be like that.

Peta [00:05:00] I don't know whether it's the time over in the UK, but here in Australia, when I was growing up, a lot of the kids who had a disability that were my peer groups were dressed in black and I really, really resent that the same over there.

Sophie [00:05:13] Yeah, definitely. It's kind of like and even you just wouldn't expect someone to be wearing colour. You wouldn't expect someone in a wheelchair to be. Yeah, just dressed almost normally in clothing. I mean, it's crazy.

Peta [00:05:29] I think to me, that's why I hardly ever wear black. Because I feel like. And I've probably thinking too much into it, but it's for me, it's the way society sort of views our life is depressing. You know, you wear black during periods of mourning. And like, for me, being a disabled person has no mourning whatsoever. It's all joy. So like you, I really resonate with wearing colour.

Sophie [00:05:57] Yeah, it's kind of like black. You're kind of hiding away. Whereas really, we should be wearing all the colour and just found ourselves all.

Peta [00:06:07] So what tips you have since the people who are listening that might be in a wheelchair or using mobility AIDS to find a perfect outfit?

Sophie [00:06:17] I mean, it comes with time. Like, it's taken me a long time to realise kind of what works for me, for me sitting down for my body. I love strategy. Play strategy. For me, the way forward. Definitely. And leggings, like colourful leggings. I'm really glad that they're kind of more on trend at the moment because in the past year or so, I've really been able to find some really good, colourful. Comfy leggings, which has been great. And I think is trial and error. I think you've got to try things. You've got to see what works for you because everyone is so different. Just even injecting like a little bit of colour if you're not quite sure and you want to wear like black leggings or things, but even like little accessories and things, just a bit of colour just makes such a difference.

Peta [00:07:05] Even print can really, you know, select your personality. Yeah, I mean I'd certainly learnt along the way I really struggle to wear longer dresses, so I like maxis and no go for me because I've had like I had a really awful experience. I was in an engagement party wearing these big dress design over dress. That's my thing. I always think, yeah, I always think it better to be overdressed and underdressed. So I was quite overdressed, but the, the fabric got put my wheels in actually fell out. So I felt awful because it was meant to be about the couple and like those always thick. So, you know, all the drama you would think after many, many years of being in a wheelchair that I would no, not wear long dresses, but it can be a bit of a process.

Sophie [00:07:53] Yeah, definitely. I think I'm the same as you sometimes are by that. Look, she was the dresses and then. They still come to my face and I'm like, okay. So I sometimes have to just make things up. It's a good thing that I'm sitting down so I can talk things up sometimes and nobody actually knows.

Peta [00:08:11] So what do you wish the fashion industry would think about more in regards to catering for people with disabilities?

Sophie [00:08:21] Obviously the goal would be to have more inclusive and adaptive play then. But I do genuinely think that's a long way away because I just think money and things like. Typically they're not mass produced, so it's never going to be kind of a short term thing. But in the short term, I think just including more disabled people, more people in wheelchairs, on catwalks. In advertising. It's just those little bits that even on websites showing the clothes on, someone sat down. Just makes such a difference. And that's just such a small way for companies and brands to kind of. Be more inclusive without having to make the adaptive clothing straight away.

Peta [00:09:07] And I think probably because we've gotten used to dressing ourselves without adaptive clothing, just because you have a disability, it doesn't necessarily mean we only wear adaptive clothing like they think that. If you say like I'm wearing a very stretchy dress right now, which I love, which I'm always thinking, Oh my God, I look naked on this call because it's sleeveless anyway. Just because you have a disability, it doesn't necessarily mean that designers have to change everything. Things like. Price tags to adjust fleets or things like that. It could be part of the design of of clothing that could also make it easier for people like myself. Like yourself.

Sophie [00:09:51] Yeah, that's so true. I mean, even like I say, like with leggings and things, just having elasticated waistband or like you say, tops that have got to be a stretch to them and things like that. There's so many little ways that they can do it that doesn't like if they have to be adaptive, kind of.

Peta [00:10:06] Yeah. And I don't know about you, but I wish when you shop online and you look to see if it is elasticated. I wish I could just cut every single thing out and make it so easy instead of like, Iooking at the model's navel and thinking, is it elasticised?

Sophie [00:10:27] Yeah, that's so true. I've always zoomed in. As soon as I see it's got a zip or a button, I'm like, Oh, no, not for me.

Peta [00:10:35] You're a mum. Can you tell me what it's like to be pregnant in a wheelchair?

Sophie [00:10:41] What was that like? And uncomfortable is probably the word I'd say. It was an amazing experience, but it was. Yeah, it was hard. I really struggled with how I felt and how I got comfortable, especially towards the end of it. To start with. I didn't show for quite a long time because I'm sitting down, so it's not really obvious. And then the bigger I got, then it was a lot harder to be comfortable, especially when I'm sitting down pretty much like all of the day, apart from when I'm in bed. So yeah.

Peta [00:11:18] I know we have similar voices as well with how we get on there. So I had to go with holding. Like, was that like, did you feel the pressure? Like, was it more difficult in voice? Like, I think, oh, my goodness. It's it's hard enough sometimes in the middle of the night when I get up the toilet, I can't imagine doing that with a belly.

Sophie [00:11:38] Yeah. I mean, to be honest, that kind of way, it kind of worked. I never really did anything special. It kind of just my I mean, my bump really stuck to the side as well. So when I was in my voice, it it just went out. And so I but it was things like toileting and things that was really hard because all through the night, like, I'd go anyway, but it was a constant thing and that was really a really tiring. Being comfortable in bed was really another thing as well, because it really laid the site. And then I'd have to have towels and pillows and things all supported to push me back over. So they just keep it supported. So it didn't ache and I wasn't in pain. I felt confident in everything I wore because I was like, This is my ballet. This is amazing. Like, it just I felt really confident in myself and really proud of having my. I had a great back that week, which is slightly early, but everything went fine. And then, yeah, I had a planned C-section, so.

Peta [00:12:40] Amazing. And how did you go? Do you have supportive medical and medical team around you? Like I've been talking to my doctor about my fertility and to be honest, she was a bit shocked that I was even considering freezing my eggs. How did you find that there was a bit of a disconnect, or did people just take it like a duck to water? Like, of course, like you want to have children.

Sophie [00:13:04] Basically it was the same like they were kind of thought it was kind of. Oh. Okay. You want to have a baby, right? Well, let's see what we can do. The first time I met my midwife, she said, Oh, I've never had anyone who's been in a wheelchair before. So we do this together. And I was like.

Peta [00:13:23] Oh, great.

Sophie [00:13:24] Okay, I wanted you to be supporting me, but it looks like we're going to be I'm going to be doing it for you. I did have a lot of help through our main hospital. They supported me with consultants and things the whole way through just because of the it's more of a high risk pregnancy. So I had to tackle my pregnancy the whole way through. I had scans pretty much once a month just to make sure everything was fine. So that side of it was really good. We kind of had to go through the process of finding the right person. And then when we found the right person. It was really smoothly from there.

Peta [00:13:57] Bit like dating, I guess.

Sophie [00:13:59] Yeah. You got to find that right person!

Peta [00:14:02] Got to find that right person. And so when you were planning to have Zora, did you adapt for your home or did you think about how you would do certain things? How did you plan? Because, you know, being a new mom, particularly at first from home, none of us really know what we're in for until the baby comes. So how did you prepare yourself?

Sophie [00:14:23] In all honesty, not at all. Because, like you say, I had no idea. Even when it comes to breastfeed and I breastfed four and a half months and right at the start it was I came home from hospital. And I tried to breastfeed in bed and I couldn't support her because I had no support on my arms. So I at midnight or at the time it was we were like, okay, we need to find something. So I luckily got like a laptop table. I could put my arm on the laptop table one side. And then we had pillows the other side and. I mean I was really lucky that I have full time carers during the season and so they were allowed to help me with Zaira. So obviously getting her out of the court and things like if my husband was safe then they would help give her to me so I could breastfeed her and things. So we were really lucky that I just had that carer support so that they could help me basically.

Peta [00:15:19] That's awesome. And so you didn't put any mobility AIDS like I know that certain prams and things that can connect to wheelchairs. How did you navigate that?

Sophie [00:15:31] We just use normal problems really. I used to sling quite a lot, which is quite nice because that I could carry her myself. But that was a good way to kind of get around that. And then it was nice to have that close bond as well. You have an expectation of what it's like going to be like to be a mum? And then the reality is it was really hard. Even now. Not being asked to cover up and not like if you drop something. I have time. I've got like a grab a stick.

Peta [00:16:01] We all have one of those.

Sophie [00:16:03] And it is hard because especially like if she fell over or something, I would be able to scoop her up. It would be my husband or it would be my carer's that they're the people that she would go to that if she herself. Yeah, it wouldn't be me. So that, that side of it, it's really hard and it's definitely getting better now that she's more able and she's moving around more because she kind of comes to me, she'll stay on my supply and climb up onto them and things, which is much nicer. So. But if that very early baby stays, that it's kind of like it's really hard to not be the mum that you expect to be.

Peta [00:16:46] What do you wish people better understood about having a disability?

Sophie [00:16:51] Oh, well, that's a good question. That is not a bad thing. You can still have a great life and have a disability. I think it's almost like presumed that we just stay in a home and do nothing all day and wither away. Yeah. That we can live, that we can have a great life and we can do so many things. Yeah. And not to have assumptions about the.

Peta [00:17:20] What's next for you? We've talked a little bit about your Instagram. So tell us what you do on your Instagram, what your goal is for your Instagram, and like what your big goals are going forward. Because like you've done amazing things. You're a brand ambassador, you've been on you've been in magazines like done such amazing things. I'd love to know what your goals are.

Sophie [00:17:42] I think just because I love the fashion side of things, I would love to do something with that. So whether it was on TV or through so many channels in the U.K. that have like fashion features and things, and that's never one single person that's ever really worked with. Even presenters, there's not many. So maybe something along those lines. And also. Why do they choose? Because I struggle so much finding for life. I'd love to create a line of why. I think it's because everyone says all the time I can't find them. Do these fit you? And that's a massive challenge. That would be incredible to do that.

Peta [00:18:22] I'll be your first customer!

Sophie [00:18:25] I know. Because my feet, as I'm sure and step into that site, it's just impossible.

Peta [00:18:32] Is there anything you don't like about having a disability?

Sophie [00:18:38] I think it's probably just. As we've already said, that the access to things is just that the way that we have to go about finding things, we can't be very spontaneous. It is just if the organisation of things I wish sometimes I didn't have to have. I wish I could just go to a restaurant and not think I'll have a book. Do we have space? Have we made sure that's nice that there's this toilet accessible? Like it's just all of those things. I wish we lived in a world where you could just go to places and not worry about the access.

Peta [00:19:11] A worry that the Leafs going to break all that cards and a breakdown or something along those lines.

Sophie [00:19:17] That's the thing, like cars and things are so amazing. I know you've had people that have had lots of car troubles and when they're good they are incredible and to change our lives. But then when they don't, that's it. We are. We're completely stuck on way and it's. It's hard.

Peta [00:19:40] It really makes me realise how much I set my own happiness to objects, which sounds awful. But I feel happier when I know I've got my car in the driveway and I can go wherever I want to. Like that sense of control and freedom is very important to me.

Sophie [00:19:58] And that I know like you, I think you had your parents drive you things, didn't you? And that's what I have to have when you have to have a higher car. And it is like you say, freedom is your independence and it's like straight away it's gone. And you just think, hon, it's so frustrating.

Peta [00:20:16] So what do you hope to be like in the future in the UK for people with disabilities?

Sophie [00:20:22] I just hope that it's more inclusive. I mean I know we have a lot of issues in the UK with. Getting the right benefits and things to support people. I've had massive struggles in the past with getting carers and the right amount of hours for carers. And I just hope that they actually just see the bigger picture and see what people need. It's not that hard. All they have to do is listen and. And we get there. I think that's why it's kind of almost integral for people like me to speak up on social media and bring these things to light. Because if no one says or talks about it, nothing's ever going to change. So that's kind of why I do what I do, just might be a tiny little voice, but at least it's one voice to add to the others that are trying to change things.

Peta [00:21:15] So I completely disagree. To me, you're a very loud voice, a very important voice. So please keep shouting, even if it is on the other side of the world from where I'm sitting now. It helps all of us.

Sophie [00:21:29] That's good.

Peta [00:21:32] What do you love about having a disability?

Sophie [00:21:37] I think that it just makes me me. I think it's even though we have the challenges, it kind of. It makes me appreciate my life more. And appreciate what I've got and what I can do because. Some people that are able bodied might not appreciate what they have. Yet when you're a disabled person, it's kind of like today. I'm so lucky to have what I have. I'm lucky to have my way with our lives. And it's. And the life I have. And that's just. A great deal of it. It's amazing, really. And like, although it's it's hard work and it can be challenging to get the things that help us day to day when you have them. It's amazing. And it really. Yeah. Life is good.

Peta [00:22:28] Wasn't that great? For you to get the full experience of our doppelganger ness or our similarities. I'll posted a photo of Sophie and I on my Instagram. I just love her content and I love her, so please go follow her. She's amazing. And if you thought the episode was amazing. Sorry. Cheap plug. Could you please write in, review it? It really helps other people find the podcast because unless you're in the top charts or somebody recommends you. Nobody's going to know that the podcast is out there. Thank you so much for listening and I'll speak to you next week. Bye.


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