The presenter walks about the stage all throughout the talk, gesturing.
She is wearing a short pencil skirt that just covers her knees, and
heels. It is worth remembering as you watch this, that those legs are
entirely prosthetic. The legs are inorganic and artificial, yet there
is no trace of disability whatsoever. This was very much the point of
Aimee starts the talk on a very interesting note. She talks about a
recent visit she made to a children's museum, in front of 300 children
ages 6-8. There, she asked to be allowed two minutes alone with the
kids, before the teachers came in. This she said was because kids have
no natural preconceptions, those they gain as they age come from adults
telling them what is right and wrong; what is allowed and what isn't
allowed. Likewise they only learn to be frightened of something when
an adult tells them to behave that way...
As Aimee put it, if the kids had filed in with the teachers at the
start the teachers would have reminded them to be gentle around the
nice disabled lady, not to stare, and not to ask impertinent questions.
Instead, they all bundled into the room, ran up to a table upon which
were a dozen different pairs of legs, all Aimee's, and began prodding
them, poking them, leaning on them to see what weight they would take.
In short, investigating.
Interaction with her, was little different. Without being warned of
a disability, the children saw her as superhuman ability.
She talks about her previous visit to the TED conference in 1998, which
in many ways shaped the next decade of her life - working on prosthetics,
individualising them and raising them to be an enablement device and
an artform for individual expression.
She was able to use the conference then to "put a call out to
inventors outside the traditional medical community". This holistic
approach to prosthetic design leapfrogged prosthetic design in ways
that had never before been achieved. Now, she's doing that again, looking
for ways to propell things onto the next stage, with a fresh generation
of inventive minds.
"Stop compartmentalising form, function, and aesthetics, and assigning
them different values."
She talkes about how at the time, back at the turn of the century,
she would be invited all around the world to talk about her cheetah
legs - state of the art at the time, and said people of all ages, both
genders would come up to her and say "You know Aimee, you're very
attractive, you don't lool disabled." She proved her superhuman-ness
there by not punching them, of course.
However, the conversations as she put it, really opened her eyes to
the nature of beauty. She doesn't feel disabled, but 'disabled cannot
be beautiful'? This led to a whole series of prosthetic legs designed
specifically to be beautiful. One set she wore to a party, and as she
states, everyone thought they were beautiful high-class long boots.
They weren't. They were wood grain prosthetic legs.
"Pamella Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody
calls her disabled."
"I started to move away from the need to replicate human-ness
as the only ascetic value."
Aimee brags of how she can change her height - thanks to interchangale
prosthetic legs, she has a storehouse of five different heights she
can be, depending on what she feels like for that day. At the conference
she decided tall was better, so became 6' 1" tall. She can also
go down to 5' 8" which would have been her natural height.
She stated that when the legs she was wearing were first made the year
prior, she went out to party with them at a high-class party, and met
a friend who she has known for years, at her normal 5' 8" height.
"Her mouth dropped open when she saw me, and she went 'but Aimee,
that's not fair.'"
That was the key, as Aimee said, the woman was distraught because
"its not fair that you can chhange your height as you wanted".
That was the cincher, the point at which a disability stopped being
a disability, and instead became an enablement to do things a natural
body could never do.
"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. Its a conversation about potential.
A prosthetic limb doesn't represent the need to replace loss any more.
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. "
"The people that society once considered to be dis-abled, can
now become the architects of their own identities and indeed continue
to change those identities by designing their bodies from a lace of