Queer, disabled comedian eloquently explains why ‘the idea of perfection is really dangerous’

Queer comedian playwright and amputee Jackie Hagan

Award-winning queer comedian, playwright and amputee Jackie Hagan has explained why “the idea of perfection is dangerous”, and it has nothing to do with beauty.

Hagan discussed her journey with her mental and physical health as part of a campaign for disability-conscious, adaptive clothing brand Kintsugi.

The brand has created an interview series titled #Unbroken, asking the “the disabled community’s most iconic individuals… to open up about when they felt most defeated by society, and how they rallied, adapted and overcame to succeed in life”.

The award-winning comedian lost one of her legs after suffering from blood clots and life-threatening infections, and said that the moment she felt lowest was when she was a teenager.

She said: “My dad had just died. I went to a posh university to do philosophy not knowing that I was working class. It had just never come up in my life.

“I was 19 and full of rage, impotence and vulnerability. So, I really lost it. It was horrible.”

Hagan ended up spending some time in a psychiatric hospital, but she explained that it led to her discovering her future career.

She continued: “When I was in a psychiatric ward, I started reading poetry, then going to workshops and performing at open mics.

“I just kept performing until someone offered me a commission to do a solo show… I think what got me through day to day was, bit by bit, finding my people. Finding people who were broken and connecting with them.

“Life is about all the nice bits of people being themselves. I love people with ticks or stutters. People being themselves is brilliant. That’s when you can really connect and engage.”

She said that people embracing the parts of themselves that society might see as “broken” is vital.

Jackie Hagan said: “The idea of perfection is really dangerous. It means people’s needs get pushed so far down because they’re trying to be this default wonderful human.

“The opposite of perfection in people, is people being honest, which is truth and beauty.”

She said her proudest moment was turning her amputation into a positive.

The queer comedian said: “When I had my leg off, I really made a thing of it. You’re supposed to be like: ‘Oh God, everyone is going to judge me on this because it is so ugly.’

“And it is ugly. It has got what looks like a mouth on it. So, I drew two eyes on it and henceforth came stump puppetry.”

She added: “I think the supposed flaws about me, or the ways in which I am ‘broken’, the ways in which I don’t function the way society wants you to, I really enjoy that.

“I don’t want to function in the way society wants me to, because society isn’t working for me.”