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  • I was speaking to a group of about 300 kids,

  • ages six to eight, at a children's museum,

  • and I brought with me a bag full of legs,

  • similar to the kinds of things you see up here,

  • and had them laid out on a table for the kids.

  • And, from my experience, you know, kids are naturally curious

  • about what they don't know, or don't understand,

  • or is foreign to them.

  • They only learn to be frightened of those differences

  • when an adult influences them to behave that way,

  • and maybe censors that natural curiosity,

  • or you know, reins in the question-asking

  • in the hopes of them being polite little kids.

  • So I just pictured a first grade teacher out in the lobby

  • with these unruly kids, saying, "Now, whatever you do,

  • don't stare at her legs."

  • But, of course, that's the point.

  • That's why I was there, I wanted to invite them to look and explore.

  • So I made a deal with the adults

  • that the kids could come in without any adults for two minutes

  • on their own.

  • The doors open, the kids descend on this table of legs,

  • and they are poking and prodding, and they're wiggling toes,

  • and they're trying to put their full weight on the sprinting leg

  • to see what happens with that.

  • And I said, "Kids, really quickly --

  • I woke up this morning, I decided I wanted to be able to jump over a house --

  • nothing too big, two or three stories --

  • but, if you could think of any animal, any superhero, any cartoon character,

  • anything you can dream up right now,

  • what kind of legs would you build me?"

  • And immediately a voice shouted, "Kangaroo!"

  • "No, no, no! Should be a frog!"

  • "No. It should be Go Go Gadget!"

  • "No, no, no! It should be the Incredibles."

  • And other things that I don't -- aren't familiar with.

  • And then, one eight-year-old said,

  • "Hey, why wouldn't you want to fly too?"

  • And the whole room, including me, was like, "Yeah."

  • (Laughter)

  • And just like that, I went from being a woman

  • that these kids would have been trained to see as "disabled"

  • to somebody that had potential that their bodies didn't have yet.

  • Somebody that might even be super-abled.

  • Interesting.

  • So some of you actually saw me at TED, 11 years ago.

  • And there's been a lot of talk about how life-changing this conference is

  • for both speakers and attendees, and I am no exception.

  • TED literally was the launch pad to the next decade of my life's exploration.

  • At the time, the legs I presented were groundbreaking in prosthetics.

  • I had woven carbon fiber sprinting legs

  • modeled after the hind leg of a cheetah,

  • which you may have seen on stage yesterday.

  • And also these very life-like, intrinsically painted silicone legs.

  • So at the time, it was my opportunity to put a call out

  • to innovators outside the traditional medical prosthetic community

  • to come bring their talent to the science and to the art

  • of building legs.

  • So that we can stop compartmentalizing form, function and aesthetic,

  • and assigning them different values.

  • Well, lucky for me, a lot of people answered that call.

  • And the journey started, funny enough, with a TED conference attendee --

  • Chee Pearlman, who hopefully is in the audience somewhere today.

  • She was the editor then of a magazine called ID,

  • and she gave me a cover story.

  • This started an incredible journey.

  • Curious encounters were happening to me at the time;

  • I'd been accepting numerous invitations to speak

  • on the design of the cheetah legs around the world.

  • And people would come up to me after the conference, after my talk,

  • men and women.

  • And the conversation would go something like this,

  • "You know Aimee, you're very attractive.

  • You don't look disabled."

  • (Laughter)

  • I thought, "Well, that's amazing,

  • because I don't feel disabled."

  • And it really opened my eyes to this conversation

  • that could be explored, about beauty.

  • What does a beautiful woman have to look like?

  • What is a sexy body?

  • And interestingly, from an identity standpoint,

  • what does it mean to have a disability?

  • I mean, people -- Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do.

  • Nobody calls her disabled.

  • (Laughter)

  • So this magazine, through the hands of graphic designer Peter Saville,

  • went to fashion designer Alexander McQueen, and photographer Nick Knight,

  • who were also interested in exploring that conversation.

  • So, three months after TED I found myself on a plane

  • to London, doing my first fashion shoot,

  • which resulted in this cover --

  • "Fashion-able"?

  • Three months after that, I did my first runway show for Alexander McQueen

  • on a pair of hand-carved wooden legs made from solid ash.

  • Nobody knew -- everyone thought they were wooden boots.

  • Actually, I have them on stage with me:

  • grapevines, magnolias -- truly stunning.

  • Poetry matters.

  • Poetry is what elevates the banal and neglected object

  • to a realm of art.

  • It can transform the thing that might have made people fearful

  • into something that invites them to look,

  • and look a little longer,

  • and maybe even understand.

  • I learned this firsthand with my next adventure.

  • The artist Matthew Barney, in his film opus called the "The Cremaster Cycle."

  • This is where it really hit home for me --

  • that my legs could be wearable sculpture.

  • And even at this point, I started to move away from the need to replicate human-ness

  • as the only aesthetic ideal.

  • So we made what people lovingly referred to as glass legs

  • even though they're actually optically clear polyurethane,

  • a.k.a. bowling ball material.

  • Heavy!

  • Then we made these legs that are cast in soil

  • with a potato root system growing in them, and beetroots out the top,

  • and a very lovely brass toe.

  • That's a good close-up of that one.

  • Then another character was a half-woman, half-cheetah --

  • a little homage to my life as an athlete.

  • 14 hours of prosthetic make-up

  • to get into a creature that had articulated paws,

  • claws and a tail that whipped around,

  • like a gecko.

  • (Laughter)

  • And then another pair of legs we collaborated on were these --

  • look like jellyfish legs,

  • also polyurethane.

  • And the only purpose that these legs can serve,

  • outside the context of the film,

  • is to provoke the senses and ignite the imagination.

  • So whimsy matters.

  • Today, I have over a dozen pair of prosthetic legs

  • that various people have made for me,

  • and with them I have different negotiations of the terrain under my feet,

  • and I can change my height --

  • I have a variable of five different heights.

  • (Laughter)

  • Today, I'm 6'1".

  • And I had these legs made a little over a year ago

  • at Dorset Orthopedic in England

  • and when I brought them home to Manhattan,

  • my first night out on the town, I went to a very fancy party.

  • And a girl was there who has known me for years

  • at my normal 5'8".

  • Her mouth dropped open when she saw me,

  • and she went, "But you're so tall!"

  • And I said, "I know. Isn't it fun?"

  • I mean, it's a little bit like wearing stilts on stilts,

  • but I have an entirely new relationship to door jams

  • that I never expected I would ever have.

  • And I was having fun with it.

  • And she looked at me,

  • and she said, "But, Aimee, that's not fair."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • And the incredible thing was she really meant it.

  • It's not fair that you can change your height,

  • as you want it.

  • And that's when I knew --

  • that's when I knew that the conversation with society

  • has changed profoundly

  • in this last decade.

  • It is no longer a conversation about overcoming deficiency.

  • It's a conversation about augmentation.

  • It's a conversation about potential.

  • A prosthetic limb doesn't represent the need to replace loss anymore.

  • It can stand as a symbol that the wearer

  • has the power to create whatever it is that they want to create

  • in that space.

  • So people that society once considered to be disabled

  • can now become the architects of their own identities

  • and indeed continue to change those identities

  • by designing their bodies

  • from a place of empowerment.

  • And what is exciting to me so much right now

  • is that by combining cutting-edge technology --

  • robotics, bionics --

  • with the age-old poetry,

  • we are moving closer to understanding our collective humanity.

  • I think that if we want to discover the full potential

  • in our humanity,

  • we need to celebrate those heartbreaking strengths

  • and those glorious disabilities that we all have.

  • I think of Shakespeare's Shylock:

  • "If you prick us, do we not bleed,

  • and if you tickle us, do we not laugh?"

  • It is our humanity,

  • and all the potential within it,

  • that makes us beautiful.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I was speaking to a group of about 300 kids,

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B1 US TED prosthetic disabled conversation aimee cheetah

【TED】Aimee Mullins: It's not fair having 12 pairs of legs

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    林容瑛 posted on 2016/04/24
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