We’re going to start of by saying as a brand inspired by #babeswithballs we’ve had the opportunity to interview and bring you the stories of a lot of super inspiring women. But it’s certainly not everyday that you come across a babe as beautiful, strong and confident as Jessica Emily Quinn. We can guarantee that after reading this, no matter how bad a day you’re having, you’ll be feeling inspired to grab it by the balls and get on with it anyway!
As a nine-year-old girl, Jess was outside playing with her sister when she fractured her femur bone. After surgery and 6 months of rehabilitation she was still in excruciating pain. Doctors later found that Jess had bone cancer and after chemotherapy wasn’t shrinking the cancer, doctors had no choice but to amputate her leg.
Due to the original break of the bone and Jess’ cancer, she couldn’t have a regular amputation and was the first person in New Zealand to undergo the type of operation she needed. After a 14-hour surgery, Jess and her family were delivered the news that it had been successful.
The next five years were a struggle and as you can imagine, growing up and adolescence is difficult enough without having to go through the journey Jess went on. But eventually she found confidence in herself and her life changed forever when she stopped hiding her prosthetic leg and started to rock it!
Jess has now amassed over 100,000 followers on Instagram and is inspiring people with her confidence and her story everyday. This is a true #babeswithballs if we have ever met one and we’ve been lucky enough to grab some of her time and ask her a few questions.
HL: You’re killing it in promoting your ‘beauty comes from confidence’ message, is confidence something you struggled with at any stage in your journey?
JQ: Yes, definitely. For the first few years after my surgery I was totally sweet, I remember not having a care in the world but I was 9 & really, what 9 year old does, especially before the days and pressures of social media. Then as I was becoming a teenager, things really got to me. At this time I was also beginning to understand the impact of what I had been through and the implications that it would have on my life.
I’d get ready with friends for parties and always feel really down because I was always trying to find clothes that covered my leg. I specifically remember it getting to a point where I wouldn’t go out or if I had plans after school I would make up some excuse about being cold just so I could get out of my school skirt and into long pants.
I remember one summer I was hanging out with close friends, and until that day, except for physio appointments, I had never worn shorts above my knee. The girls were like, “come on, it’s a hot day and its just us, throw on some shorts”, and so I did. I still remember that liberating feeling. Then I began wearing them in public and yes, people stared and that got to me but I started to understand people were staring because they were interested.
As I’ve gotten older my confidence has grown and grown and there has been so many pivotal moments that have added to this but the main thing was that I had to go through a period of accepting it myself to be confident. It wasn’t until I was genuinely happy with the person that I am, it wasn’t until I fully accepted the things I couldn’t change, that I became 100% confident in my own skin.
HL: Can you recall a particular moment that inspired you to become the confident #babeswithballs that you are now?
JQ: If I look back, there have been so many pivotal moments. In some ways, I woke up one day and just decided I fought so hard to be here, I’m not going to let cancer ruin my life anymore by having a control over my attitude. In another way, as I look back I realise there has been lots of moments that have added up to help me find my confidence.
I still have moments where I’m not, we all do, I think it will forever be a work in progress as I’m always putting myself outside of my comfort zone. After my teenage years it was like I reached a point of confidence, a point I felt comfortable with, and then recently I went 100 on the confidence concept, which was when I did my Limbitless photoshoot (pictured above).
Up until that point, confidence for me was not hiding away from my adversity in public & being happy with the person I was, but this was in my prosthetic that looks 90% like a real leg, so my confidence was on a certain level. I one day decided to blow it out of the park and pose in my running blade and minimal clothing in an attempt to show people how you can accept your flaws and still be beautiful.
I can honestly say I had never felt as confident as I did doing that photoshoot. I like that there’s no hiding behind anything in those images, you see first glance that I’m different, like it or you don’t, I don’t care because I like it and really, that’s all that matters.
HL: If every young girl who scrolls through their Instagram feed, obsessed with perfection aspiring to look like the models they see everyday, was listening to you right now, what message would you give them?
JQ: Do I have a word limit? Haha. Seriously though, I could talk about this for ages. This is why I have started Limbitless, specifically for these young people.
You can workout all day, you can starve yourself, yo-yo diet, buy the latest trends and use the best beauty products but until you can accept yourself as the beautiful person you are, until you can offer endless kindness to others, you will not be happy. We too often see happiness as a destination, like if I just have this one thing or achieve this one thing then I will be happy but if your happiness is dependent on something that can be taken away from you, then you’re setting yourself up for a loss.
Happiness is a choice. Often we become unhappy in our own lives because we compare ours against others but it’s important to remember, every single person on this planet is facing something. You may perceive their life as perfect but I can guarantee you they’ve faced hardship or adversity or triumphs so don’t for a second let the appearance of someone else’s life make you feel any less about your own. We’re all human at the end of the day.
HL: We all have down days; do you have any tips or tricks for staying so bubbly and positive?
JQ: I have them too, some days you just can’t get out of that rut. For me I simply remember, I’ve survived days a heck of a lot worse than this. I read something that stuck with me once, “was it a bad day or a bad five minutes that you milked all day?". Often something bad happens that knocks us, but sometimes you just need to take a step back, realise it’s not that bad and move on because the more you dwell, the worse it gets, when really it wasn’t that bad to begin with. And if all else fails I go to the gym, sweat it out, have a laugh with friends, go to bed early and start fresh the next day.
HL: We love all the motivational quotes that you post on your Instagram, do you have a favourite that identifies with you and your journey the most?
JQ: “Play the hand you were dealt like it was the hand you wanted”. We don’t get everything we want in life, sometimes you will get dealt a hand that you’d rather not have but sometimes it is completely out of our control and that is just life, after all it’s what we’re made of that matters, not our circumstances, which leads me to my second favourite quote, “no matter where life places you, bloom with grace”.
Q6. You must have so many people around you that have inspired and supported you through your journey, can you tell us the special few that have had the most personal impact?
JQ: Where do I begin! My parents, the older I get the more I admire their strength. I am the person I am today because of them. My sisters – they’re my best friends and have since day one treated me no differently, I don’t think they’ll ever realise just how much that’s helped me. My Friends – I have been blessed to have such amazing friends throughout my whole life who are there for me no matter what and offer an endless supply of laughs.
I am so grateful for every relationship I’ve had, people seem to just want to help in any way they can and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people, it would take me a book to mention everybody and that in itself puts a smile on the dial.
HL: You have a goal to run to 10K, what made you set this goal and how do you stay focused on achieving it?
JQ: For me, I don’t like not being able to do something and running is one of the few things I haven’t been able to do. Being so into my fitness and training its always frustrated me that I couldn’t run. So one day, I just decided to order a running blade and change that. I’d been told I wouldn’t be able to run due to a complex surgery, but I quite like the idea of proving people wrong. After 9 months of stability training and having only run a few laps of my studio I decided to set myself the goal of running 10km. I like the idea of setting myself a task that seems almost unachievable and figuring out how to achieve it along the way, I love the process & the challenge.
It has been such a journey trying to reach this goal, certainly 10 steps forward and 8 steps back as my body adjusts to a whole new range of movement, unfortunately it’s going to take a lot longer than I’d originally planned but the goal still stands. I guess I stay focused because I’m stubborn, I’ve told a lot of people that I’m going to run 10km – so that’s what I will do. I know now that it is possible so it’s not a matter of if I’ll achieve it but when.
HL: Can you give us some insight in your weekly training routine?
JQ: I’m a firm believer in listening to your body so my routine changes.
At the moment I’m at the gym at 6am to do cardio and resistance training then three afternoons a week I train with my incredible coach Sunz doing a combination of strength and mobility training, then on the two other afternoons I usually do an NTC HIIT workout with friends.
For me. it’s about having ability. I will never let the fact that I’m missing a leg be an excuse to not have abilities so I work really hard to ensure that I’m not dis-abled by my circumstance.
HL: We love that you’re such a Health Lab fan, what attracted you to our brand/products?
JQ: Yes, I love HealthLab – those balls! I got given a sample at an NTC training class once and I was obsessed straight away. I’m not usually a fan of bliss balls but these tasted like a treat and as I’m in the process of quiting sugar they’re the perfect substitute. Also, the whole vibe of HealthLab, even down to the appearance of the product is just so cool!