3.20.2009

aimee mullins, superhero

Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing posted a great video of Aimee Mullins, a former Paralympic record-setter and an activist for women and people with disabilities. There's a very interesting - and, for me, somewhat irritating - discussion about the video, so rather than post the video myself, I'll direct you there. I came to the discussion late, which is just as well, given my feelings about some of the comments.

Aimee Mullins: How my legs give me super-powers

Many thanks to James for sending me this. I interviewed Mullins when she was a up-and-coming teenage amputee track star, so I'm always interested in what she's up to.

11 comments:

impudent strumpet said...

That is so cool! (In the great tradition of focusing on the least important thing, I was just wondering the other day whether they make prosthetic legs that can accomodate high heels.)

richard said...

I love those TED videos (although the thing does smack of liberal elitism). The talks are invariably interesting and hopeful.(BTW - the elitism thing is largely tempered by their practice of making the talks available to all for free on the Internet. That does open it up to those who cannot score the exclusive invitations or afford the very large fee for attending a TED conference).

Ms. Mullins certainly seems to be a facinating person.

Best line = "Pamela Anderson has more prostetics in her body than I do and no one calls her disabled!" Classic.

richard said...

In tangentially related news, I hope this special olympian gets a chance to go one-on-one with President Obama on the bowling lanes.

http://www.tmz.com/2009/03/20/special-olympics-champ-to-barack-bring-it-on/

L-girl said...

I'm not a big fan of the Special Olympics, but I did like the Pamela Anderson line.

Re "liberal elitism", good ideas come from all different places, from the grassroots, from the establishment, from outsiders and insiders. As you say, it's not like the TED conference hoards the ideas.

L-girl said...

(In the great tradition of focusing on the least important thing, I was just wondering the other day whether they make prosthetic legs that can accomodate high heels.)

I was surprised by the cosmetic legs, because these days most young amputees don't put a cover on their prosthetics - they wear the leg with all its material showing, the bionic look. And they decorate, tattoo and write on their stumps. It's very cool. But man, Aimee Mullins' legs in that video are hot!

impudent strumpet said...

I totally lust after and covet those legs. I actually found myself thinking that having prosthetic legs would be so much more convenient - normal-sized feet, don't have to shave, you can wear skirts in the winter because it's not like your legs are going to get cold, etc. etc.

L-girl said...

Just like the woman she mentioned in her talk who said, "That's not fair!" :)

James said...

The comments you responded to got me thinking, "You know, if Bono were up there talking about his advocacy work, they wouldn't be ripping into him for being rich and good looking. What's so upsetting about Mullins?"

L-girl said...

James, good point! Of course the answer is no.

What seems to be bothering everyone is that amputees in impoverished countries don't have access to good prostheses, and Mullins isn't helping that. Presumably they're not helping either, but that's ok. It's not ok for Mullins, though. She has an obligation that they don't have, courtesy of her disability.

James said...

What seems to be bothering everyone is that amputees in impoverished countries don't have access to good prostheses, and Mullins isn't helping that.

But she is helping: though her awareness work and experimentation with different types of prosthetics, she's driving work that will, in the end, make the production of prosthetics cheaper and more wearable, and thereby make the prosthetics themselves more accessible to anyone.

I've come across a few articles on recent work on prosthetic arms, and one of the common themes is that even people who have them rarely wear them because they're so heavy and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the engineering work to make them more dextrous inevitably starts bulky before things can be streamlined -- so it's good to have someone coming at the problem from the aesthetic and usability side instead of the functionality side.

L-girl said...

But she is helping: though her awareness work and experimentation with different types of prosthetics, she's driving work that will, in the end, make the production of prosthetics cheaper and more wearable, and thereby make the prosthetics themselves more accessible to anyone.

Ah yes, very good.

I guess she's not helping in a way that these people recognize and condone.

After all, she's a woman, she's attractive and she's American. Therefore, there must be something wrong with what she's doing.