Aimee Mullins is an American actress, athlete and fashion model. She became famous for her athletic achievements in softball. Her TED talks are among the most-viewed of all time. These are the things that define Aimee. When we hear this name the first thing we think is empowered, not disabled.
Aimee was born with fibular hemimelia and had both her legs amputated when she was one year old.
During this TED talk Aimee allows the audience to peek at the 1982 version of the word “disabled” that she stumbled upon in an old Thesaurus and the words are frightening to take in: “helpless….useless….impotent….mangled….”
Immediately she went to look up the 2009 version, expecting to find a revision worth noting. But sadly, not much had changed. The last two words under “near antonyms” were particularly unsettling: whole and wholesome.
In a world that has progressed so much, especially in terms of technologies that allow people to move beyond the limits that nature has imposed on them (such as Aimee’s prosthetic legs), it is sad to think that these words still exist to define them.
As Aimee believes it, and as I do too, the only true disability is a crushed spirit. Our language affects our thinking and how we view other people. Let’s evolve with technology and use social media as a way to change our way of viewing the world.
“Many ancient societies believed that to utter a curse verbally was so powerful because to say the thing out loud was to bring it into existence. What reality do we want to call into existence? A person who is limited or a person who is empowered?”
START THE EVOLUTION. Prosthetic legs, cochlear implants, all of these innovations in technology have shown us that those limits once thought insurmountable were just deemed so because of language. “Limit” is just a word. A word like “disability.” These words are powerless until we use them to reshape someone’s view of themselves.
“If instead we can bolster human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we are truly using our power well. When a spirit has those qualities we are able to create new realities and new ways of being. “
Use the power of technology to pass along this message. It deserves to be heard.