October 30, 2009
Video: Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs
The TED.com description of the video: Athlete, actor and activist Aimee Mullins talks about her prosthetic legs -- she's got a dozen amazing pairs -- and the superpowers they grant her: speed, beauty, an extra 6 inches of height ... Quite simply, she redefines what the body can be.
Aimee Mullins was born without fibular bones, and had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant. She learned to walk on prosthetics, then to run - competing at the national and international level as a champion sprinter, and setting world records at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. At Georgetown, where she double-majored in history and diplomacy, she became the first double amputee to compete in NCAA Division 1 track and field.
After school, Mullins did some modeling - including a legendary runway show for Alexander McQueen - and then turned to acting, appearing as the Leopard Queen in Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. In 2008 she was the official Ambassador for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
She's a passionate advocate for a new kind of thinking about prosthetics, and recently mentioned to an interviewer that she's been looking closely at MIT's in-development powered robotic ankle, "which I fully plan on having."