Her Legs May Be The First Part You Notice About Her, But She'd Rather They Not Be The Last

Chie Davis Curator:

When it comes to stuffing our identity into those tiny little boxes on forms, I always wonder: How does knowing someone’s race, sex, or disability status really help in the grand scheme of things? According to this fierce woman, it doesn't.

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Aimee Mullins: Half of Hollywood has more prosthetic in their body than I do, but we don't think of them as disabled. I probably shouldn't be telling you all that.

I think our need to categorize just comes from a place of being lazy. You know, honestly, it's just hard. It's harder work to get to know a person for the person that they are, the individual that they are, rather than their skin color, their religion, their gender, what they do for their, you know, income. I'm guilty of it too, sometimes, but I'm aware of it, and I really... It's something that I commit myself to daily, to understanding when I do these things, when I categorize people. Because I know how I feel when it's done to me and done in an unfair way in the sense of these aren't categorized I've ascribed myself to. You know, this idea of being a disabled athlete or a disabled model is just troubling to me. There is an absolute difference and an important distinction between the objective fact of my being an amputee versus the subjective judgement call that automatically makes me disabled. You have amputees running 400 meters in under 46 seconds. Can you really call that a disabled athlete? I don't think so. When you have a skier going down a mountain, who is visually impaired, at 75 miles an hour, is that a disabled athlete? I think that's super ability.

It is absolutely crucial to realize that by being lazy and labeling a child with this term that should be reserved for like a disabled vehicle, you know, on the highway, we could be creating a more problematic situation for this person than the fact that they have to wear a prosthetic leg. You know, I always find that even with somebody who patronizes you, it's almost always unintentional. And there's no opportunity for education because honestly, how ever else are people supposed to know? How would somebody know these things? Half of Hollywood has more prosthetic in their body than I do, but we don't think of them as disabled. You know, you amputate part of a nose, it's enhancement. You put a prosthetic in your breast cavity, it's augmentation. But you amputate part of a limb and you put a prosthetic there, it's disability? I find that when you just kind of present the evidence or present this idea, you know your ideas, and allow people to evaluate and decide for themselves, for me, there's a lot more change that can be affected. I think we owe it to ourselves to insist on being treated as the individuals that we are, and to give others that common courtesy to see them as an individual and not as a category.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

I found this fresh slice of truth on THNKR. To keep up with Aimee Mullins and all of the great conversations she’s having around being super-able, follow her on Twitter. You can also check out Upworthy’s feature on her TED Talk.

Aug 14, 2014

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