Aimee Mullins An Introduction to a Life by Collette Morris
Aimee Mullins was born in 1975 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
At the age of 1 she was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia, meaning that she was born without the fibula bone.
The fibula bone, also known as the calf bone, is located on the lateral side of the tibula.
The top connection is made right below the level of the knee-joint but does not form any part of the knee.
The lower point of the bone form the lateral part of the ankle joint.
An Operation The fibula bone is used not to carry the weight of the person but to provide balance and stability to the leg. The doctors gave a depressing diagnosis of Mullins being unable to walk and being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. It was consequently decided by her parents that the best the chance at a mobile life. The operation occurred on her first birthday
By the age of 2 she had learned to walk on prosthetic legs. She began her love of sports enrolling in anything physical and always with in the group of “able bodied” children.
The Beginning Aimee Mullins attended school with “able bodied” children and graduate high school with honors. She later became 1 of 3 students in the US to receive a full scholarship from the Department of Defense. At 17 she was the youngest person to have/hold top secret security clearance at the Pentagon.
She attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and began training for the US Team for the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Training She began training with Frank Gagliano, and became the first woman to compete with a disability in the NCAA league. It was here that the Cheetah legs were born. Mullins was the first to wear them and considered the official “guinea pig” for the project. Wearing the legs Aimee Mullins set a World record in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, and the long jump.
The Cheetah Legs The Cheetah Flex-Foot is a trademark for “a stored-energy foot prosthesis containing a J-shaped plastic beam that acts like a spring when the wearer walks or runs.” Each leg is cut from a flat sheet of pressed carbon fiber, and molded into a fluid J-like curve that connects at the base of the knee and runs all the way to the tip of toe, and where it curls up. hoe.
Cheetah Leg Components The “Full Length Toe Lever” helps improve walking symmetry and reduces impact to the limb. The “Proportional Response” are the heel and foot components that are customized to the user’s weight and level of impact thus reducing the fatigue of the user. The “Active Tribal Progression” aids in the vertical force that is placed through the heel. It helps reduce the need of the user to actively push the body forward allowing for a more natural and reduced walking effort.
Cheetah Legs cont.
The carbon-fiber blades act like giant springs helping to mimic the mechanics of biological feet.
They absorb the runners energy only returning about 80% back to the athlete.
The blades require 25-30% less energy to run at the same speed as with biological legs
Sports Illustrated Issue Soon after her success on the track Aimee Mullins landed a 10-page feature in the inaugural issue of Sports Illustrated for Women. She became interested in the issues regarding body image and how fashion impacted the outlook of the public.
"In athletics, the idea of possibility is presumed," she says. "It's not 'if,' it's 'how.' And that is how artists, and fashion designers, and musicians see the world. It's not possibility, it's potential.”
-Taken from SI Issue.
On the Runway 1999, she made her runway debut in London under the invitation of world famous fashion designer, Alexander McQueen. For the show Mullins wore hand carved prosthetic legs made entirely out of wood. The event landed her the covers of ID and Dazed and Confused. She was then named one of People’s Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”
Running on High Tech Legs If experiencing problems Click on circle to have the video straighten itself out TED Talk, Feb 1998
Reflection Its nice for her to describe the first meet that she went to with her seemingly out-of-date prosthetics and the looks that she received from the other athletes. While it is easy to quickly point out the biases and outlooks from the “able” community to the “disabled” community, it is another thing to have the discrimination within the “disabled” community because one of its members does not have the latest and most high tech options of equipment on the current market. Her relationship with the coach is a very unique one as he is looking at her as a challenge and not in the way of “how can I work with what you have” focusing largely on the disability, but rather a large scale of “what can you as an individual achieve.”
Reflection At 6:30 she tells the most awesome story of her on the track and the blunt encouragement she receives from her coach. Though no one in her life “pitied” her it is obvious that tough love can be used by all. At 13:00 she begins to remove her “pretty legs” and the audience really gets a chance to see what is going on physically. It is interesting to know that the gaze is solely on her but since she is in control of said gaze it doesn’t have the harmful affects as one unwanted and in public. Here she changes her legs to the Cheetah ones and I quickly realize that I too am staring at her during this process. Through this video I am allowed to watch her and get a bit of education on the application of the legs, the components and how she as an individual lives with them.
How My Legs Give Me Superpowers If experiencing problems Click on circle to have the video straighten itself out TED Talk, Mar 2009
Reflection I feel that it is through this discussion that Aimee Mullins addresses many of the things that we discuss in class. Her “social experiment” involving her “bag of legs” with the children is further proof that biases and this fear of the disabled is something that is taught and learned, not an innate component of the human psyche. She mentions that the children would be “trained” to see her disability. When during the experiment they are the first to see the potential in her circumstance. I feel that in her lecture and what we’ve discussed in class there is a huge weight in being able to “un-train” what we have learned about disability and like these kids much of it will have to come from exposure to the different bodies society has. If it is something that you have seen before there is no reason for you to stare in the same judgment.
Reflection At the 3:50 mark Aimee Mullins describes the disabled “look” and that because she is disabled people are surprised at how attractive she is. Yes she “doesn’t feel disabled.” Through much of the reading that I have done on her she is very willing to admit that her “ability” is what makes her unique and sets her apart. And most importantly that at time it is in fact the envy of others. The scenario is an interesting one as we’ve had numerous discussions on the idea of “fixing” individuals in class and how some wouldn’t take it. It is evident that Mullins wouldn’t. Later on in the work she speaks on how the “conversation with society is changing.” While I feel that she has gotten the better half of the conversation, we have read in class and spoken of our own accord how disabilities are discriminated against, I think that she has managed to tap into a new outlet. Her art legs allow for her to again, control the gaze of the population, and channel the views of artists to help redefine herself as an individual.
Just for fun… Aimee Mullins on the Colbert Report Click on the link
When Science and Sports Collide
Flex Foot Product Characteristics
Wonder Woman: Prosthetic Legs Won’t Slow Aimee Mullins