Self-esteem, body image, super powers and Aimee Mullins
I've watched a few lectures from the TED conferences which have been put online this year and really enjoyed most them, even if I do disagree with some of the speakers on what they say... I just watched the following video where Aimee Mullins, an amputee, athlete, actress and model speaks on what she views as a shift in attitudes from a negative view of disabilities to an understanding of individuality and how her experiences with physical disabilities are also an illumination of potential, possibility and the creativity central to humanity.
How my legs give me super powers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ0iMulicgg
Her legs were amputated at 1 years old and following dramatic success as a college athlete with prosthetic legs was exposed to the media at a TED conference in 1998, since then she found huge interest from artists, designers and fashion magazines. She says in the video that she thereby came to a realisation that "a prosthetic limb doesn't represent a need to replace loss any more, it can stand as a symbol that the wearer has the power to create whatever they want to create in that space".
I like that a lot. Other stuff like this and many body image articles at scarleteen and elsewhere give me a lot of hope and extra sparks of motivation.
The way this is actually about physical bodies as an outlet for creativity is profound for me. I find the way she links, in an extremely positive way, who we are to whatever body we've got (beyond the idealized) and whatever materials we use to extend our creativity and our abilities, to be really moving... and such an incredible breath of fresh air when so much else in the media is about jumping through hoop$ just to be acceptable, let alone beautiful.
She may be coming to the subject from the angle of body-image and it's material beauty but I'm really drawn to the broader phrases too, which she makes about disabilities we all have. It seems to further what she says to me about body-image to self-esteem as a whole. Where the prosthetic limb used to represent loss and now represents power, we can now also say that how we deal with any part of ourselves which is out of the "norm" can too, be an opportunity to proudly display the powers we have to create ourselves, inside and out.
This is a really great, positive talk which I loved. I loved that she credits the changes that have already happened in society on how disabilities are viewed... and if more positive thoughts like these make their way into the media we'll be a lot further towards a happier-everyone. I'm so happy that there are people who are experiencing a change and hope it can be more a part of the future.