The idea of prosthetics is a tool. Most people’s cell phones are prosthetics. If you leave your cell phone at home, you feel impacted by not having it. It’s an important part of your daily function and what you can do in a day.
At some point in every person’s life, you will need an assisted medical device – whether it’s your glasses, your contacts, or as you age and you have a hip replacement or a knee replacement or a pacemaker. The prosthetic generation is all around us.
People presume my disability has to do with being an amputee, but that’s not the case; our insecurities are our disabilities, and I struggle with those as does everyone.
When I watch ‘Mad Men’ and I see the patronising attitudes to women that are so shocking for all of us to watch now, I feel that I’ve lived and see the same evolution in this regard around disability.
Life is about making your own happiness – and living by your own rules.
I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness… their ‘disability.’ And I’m certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our belief and confidence in our own abilities.
I haven’t had an easy life, but at some point, you have to take responsibility for yourself and shape who it is that you want to be. I have no time for moaners. I like to chase my dreams and surround myself with other people who are chasing their dreams, too.
Belief in oneself is incredibly infectious. It generates momentum, the collective force of which far outweighs any kernel of self-doubt that may creep in.
It’s society that disables an individual by not investing in enough creativity to allow for someone to show us the quality that makes them rare and valuable and capable.
Kids are naturally curious about what they don’t know, or don’t understand, or what is foreign to them. They only learn to be frightened of those differences when an adult influences them to behave that way and censors that natural curiosity.
Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.
I’m not an advocate for disability issues. Human issues are what interest me. You can’t possibly speak for a diverse group of people. I don’t know what it’s like to be an arm amputee, or have even one flesh-and-bone leg, or to have cerebral palsy.
With L’Oreal, I get to be Aimee Mullins, model. No qualifier. And that means everything to me.
I had a paper round and every night I would put the dinner on before Mum came home from work. I was capable because I had to be.
Whether it is your height, your weight or your skin, someone is going to pick on something and make fun of it. My legs were just a more obvious target.
The Pentagon isn’t a place that champions individuality and innovation.
For me, I never ever felt the ownership or any identity with any community of disabilities. I didn’t grow up being told that I was a disabled child.
I’ve had journalists asking me, ‘What do we call you – is it handicapped, are you disabled, physically challenged?’ I said, ‘Well hopefully you could just call me Aimee. But if you have to describe it, I’m a bilateral below-the-knee amputee.’
True beauty is when someone radiates that they like themselves.
Giving up is conceding that things will never get better, and that is just not true. Ups and downs are a constant in life, and I’ve been belted into that roller coaster a thousand times.
I have found great power in taking my ‘difference’ out for a spin in a very public way. And usually, the worst, most personally embarrassing thing you imagine in your mind is often not anywhere near as bad in real life.
I’m not an advocate for disability issues. Human issues are what interest me.
I don’t know what it’s like to be an arm amputee, or have even one flesh-and-bone leg, or to have cerebral palsy. I don’t speak for such huge and diverse groups. What I’ve tried to do, what I’ve been fortunate to do, is to live my live and create my life as I’ve wanted to create it.
I like it now when kids stare at me, because it is a way of starting a dialogue. And it is far better than them not looking at you at all. Nothing is worse than not being seen.
We all bullet point our triumphs, but I am who I am because of everything you don’t see on my CV. The stuff that doesn’t work out teaches you how to trust your instincts and adapt.
A lot of my life is about will – having the will to prove what my body can do.
I’ve said this before, but I believe more than ever that confidence is sexier than any body part.
You know, I think there are certain words like ‘illegitimate’ that should not be used to describe a person. And certainly, we have come far enough in our technology that our language can evolve, because it has an impact.
It’s factual to say I am a bilateral-below-the-knee amputee. I think it’s subjective opinion as to whether or not I am disabled because of that. That’s just me.
Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled.
If we want to discover the full potential in our humanity, we need to celebrate those heartbreaking strengths and those glorious disabilities we all have. It is our humanity and all the potential within it that makes us beautiful.
If you would ask me at 15 years old if I would have traded prosthetics for flesh and bone legs, I wouldn’t have hesitated for a second. I aspired to that kind of normalcy back then. But if you ask me today, I’m not so sure.
The flesh and bone leg is just beautiful. It’s elegant. You know, when it’s working, it’s incredible. But if it’s not working, well, you know, your life is certainly far from over.
It’s hard enough for women to walk on high heels. And I’m on stilts!
Sure, I’d love to have children some day. But world domination comes first.
I’m not running around as a continual ray of sunshine. It’s just I don’t believe in wasting time feeling sorry for myself. Get over it.
I didn’t want to be written about as a human-interest story. I didn’t want to be a passing thing. You know, now we move on to the fat girl who had her stomach stapled. I didn’t want to become a gimmick: the disabled model.
Beauty is not skin-deep; it can be a means of self-affirmation, a true indicator of personality and confidence.
I like that Pilates compromises the mind and body. It’s not just about being able to run around the block a few times. It’s about alleviating stress and controlling breathing. It’s about being balanced.
If you’re an athlete and you completely focus on the body, you’re missing other components. Similarly, if you’re trying to broaden your mind but not also being attentive to your sense of humour and your spirit, then you’re not going to grow and develop so fast.
I hate the words ‘handicapped’ and ‘disabled’. They imply that you are less than whole. I don’t see myself that way at all.
Part of the reason I wanted to model was to push the boundaries and challenge the perceptions of what a beautiful body is supposed to look like. Why should I feel any differently about looking good than anyone else?
The legs that I have made are far more perfect than the ones nature would have given me – my mother’s side of the family have awful legs.
If you watch any John Hughes film of the eighties, that was my childhood experience.
When I’m curious about something, I do it full on and take it as far as I go, but when I feel like I’ve really explored it, I’m OK with putting it aside and going on to something else.
I have learned not to overlook the advantages of being me. From when I was a softball player, and I held the stolen bases record. I would slide into second with my prostheses, and the girl on the base could either step aside or meet two wooden sticks.
I was once told that I had become too confident and that it made me less likeable. Many successful people will get this at some point, because the people who haven’t followed a similar path can be threatened by someone who has and is unabashed about it.
In sports, I refused to do any interviews that were just going to become human-interest stories. Don’t turn me into a tragic heroine.
I grew up in a town with a great wrestling tradition. Then I was a team sport queen in high school; I played softball, volleyball, and soccer. Oh, and I also did ski racing.
In athletics, the idea of possibility is presumed. It’s not ‘if;’ it’s ‘how.’
Walking the runway with Alexander McQueen, I really had to dig deep. You’re with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. I was the first person out on the runway, but I thought, ‘I have done the Olympics, I can do this.’
I’ll be giving a speech at the randomest place, like a bank or something, and a guy in a suit will say, ‘I’m totally freaked out that I’m talking to the girl from ‘Cremaster.’ For the rest of my life, that movie will be playing in a museum somewhere. I never could have expected that huge response.
I didn’t see how wearing prosthetics was quite so different from being born with flaming red hair in a crowd of black-haired babies, or being of a different religion from that of every other child in your area.
‘Triumph over tragedy’ – how pathetic! I think people are generally freaked out that I’m multifaceted. You don’t hear people saying, ‘Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar – and she’s blonde!’
I want to be a Bond girl. Think about it – I have metal components in my legs, so when I go through airport security, I set off the alarms. But when they realize why I’m beeping, they let me through. What if I had weapons in my legs? I could take one off and pull out an Uzi! Legs Galore – that would be me!
A couple of years ago, I had my DNA sequencing done, and it is all anonymous. When the results came back, my musculature type said, ‘most likely to be a sprinter.’
The best beauty secret, besides sleep and plenty of water, is do whatever it is – before you go out, before you need to feel beautiful – do whatever makes you feel confident. If it’s putting on a great dance record and rocking out in your apartment, do it. If kissing someone for 10 minutes makes you feel confident, do it.
My varying pairs of legs can be quite practical or quite impractical, and I don’t judge them either way. Some are for getting around a 12-hour day, pounding the pavement, and some are to feel like I can transform my own body into a workable, changing piece of art.