Aimee Mullins Profile

  • Although her legs were amputated below the knee at age 1, Mullins excelled at sports and set world records in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and long jump.

  • As an athlete, model, actress, and speaker, Mullins has broken conventional standards, sending a message across generations that being different doesn't limit you - it distinguishes you.

  • Her raw authenticity and empowering story make her one of the most viewed TED Talk speakers.
  • Named one of the “Coolest Girls in Sports” by Sports Illustrated, Aimee Mullins has redefined what’s possible for an entire generation of differently-abled people. The record-breaking athlete, model, and actress was born without shin bones and had her legs amputated below the knee at age 1 so that she would have the possibility of gaining independent mobility with the use of prosthetics. By her second birthday, she was walking, and not long afterwards, she was running.

    Throughout her childhood, Mullins proved that her disability did not limit her, as she excelled competitively in able-bodied sports like softball and downhill skiing. She won a coveted scholarship from the U.S. Department of Defense, which included an internship at the Pentagon, making her the only woman in her department and the youngest person ever to have security clearance there. Mullins attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where she competed in the regular NCAA track and field, making her the first amputee in any NCAA sport. She set world records in the 100-meter, the 200-meter, and the long jump before going on to compete in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, where she gained global attention for the “Cheetah” carbon-fibre sprinting legs she used, the first of their kind.

    Mullins also caught the eye of several editors in the fashion world. She used the opportunity to redefine beauty, appearing on the covers of the magazine Dazed and Confused, I.D. Magazine, and in a London fashion show for the famed designer Alexander McQueen. She has since served as a beauty ambassador for Loreal. Some of her acting credits include the art film Cremaster 3, Young Ones, and the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. Her TED talks are among the most viewed of all time and have been translated into 42 languages.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Aimee’s film debut was a starring role in the highly acclaimed film by contemporary artist Matthew Barney, Cremaster 3, first presented in the US at the Guggenheim Museum in 2003. Cremaster 3 is “an astonishing work of creativity,” and was lauded by The Guardian as “the first truly great piece of cinema to be made in a fine art context since Dali and Bunuel filmed Un Chien Andalou in 1929. It is one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema.”

      Starring as Isis, she continued her work with Barney in River of Fundament, an adaptation of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings. Chronicling the seven stages of a soul’s journey from death to rebirth, each chapter, while filmed, was also accompanied by a one-time only live performance. In October 2010 they performed “Khu,” the second chapter, in multiple locations within Detroit, over a 7 hour period in front of a live audience.

      Aimee first received worldwide media attention as an athlete. Born without fibulae in both legs, Aimee’s medical prognosis was discouraging; she was told she would never walk, and would likely spend the rest of her life using a wheelchair. In an attempt for an outside chance at increased mobility, doctors amputated both her legs below the knee on her first birthday. The decision paid off. By age two, she had learned to walk on prosthetic legs, and spent her childhood doing the usual athletic activities of her peers: swimming, biking, softball, soccer, and skiing, always alongside “able-bodies” kids.
      After graduating high school with honors, Aimee was one of three students in the US chosen for a full academic scholarship from the Department of Defense, and at age 17 became the youngest person to hold a top-secret security clearance at the Pentagon. She worked there as an intelligence analyst during her summer breaks.

      It was at this time that she rediscovered her love of competitive sports. While a dean’s list student at the prestigious School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, she set her sights on making the US Team for the 1996 Atlanta Games. She enlisted the expertise of Frank Gagliano, one of the country’s most respected track coaches. Through this partnership, she became the first amputee in history, male or female, to compete in the NCAA, doing so on Georgetown’s nationally-ranked Division I track team. Becoming the first person to be outfitted with woven carbon-fiber prostheses that were modeled after the hind legs of a cheetah, she went on to set World Records in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, and the long jump, sparking a frenzy over the radical design of her prototype sprinting legs. The essential design of those legs are now the world standard in sports prosthetics.

      After a profile in Life magazine showcased her in the starting blocks at Atlanta, the world took notice. Aimee soon landed a 10-page feature in the inaugural issue of Sports Illustrated for Women, which led to her accepting numerous invitations to speak at international design conferences. This introduction to a discourse relating to aesthetic principles fueled her interest in issues relating to body image, and how fashion advertising impacted societal notions of femininity and beauty. In 1999, Aimee made her runway debut in London at the invitation of one of the world’s most celebrated fashion designers, Alexander McQueen.

      Walking alongside the supermodels of the world, Aimee’s groundbreaking, triumphant turn captured the attention of the fashion media, propelling her onto the magazine covers of ID and Dazed and Confused. After making her mark in such fashion magazine standards as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Glamour, and Elle, she was also named as one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In February 2011, she was named as the new Global Brand Ambassador to the world’s largest beauty brandL’Oreal Paris, another cultural milestone.

      An influential voice in today’s culture, she is regularly invited to share her ideas at various corporations and global conferences like TED and TEDMED, and she has been named as one of Esquire’s “Women We Love,” one of Jane magazine’s “10 Gutsiest Women,” one of Sports Illustrated’s “Coolest Girls in Sport,” and was celebrated as the “Hottest Muse” in Rolling Stone’s annual Hot List. In addition to her professional career, Aimee serves on numerous boards and spends much of her time assisting various non-profit organizations, most notably the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). After serving as a Trustee for the WSF, founded by Billie Jean King, she was elected as the foundation’s President, a position she stewarded from 2007 to 2009. Aimee served for years as Vice-President for J.O.B., the nation’s oldest non-profit employment service for persons with disabilities, founded in 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt, Orin Lehman, and others. She was a founding member of the Leadership Board to SPIRE Institute, the world’s largest and most diverse athletic development center.

      Already at a young age, Aimee’s impact on modern society and her influence on future generations is undeniable. Her likeness has been immortalized in exhibits at institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NCAA Hall of Fame, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, the Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the Women’s Museum, where she is honored for her contribution to sport among the “Greatest American Women of the 20th Century.”

      She resides in New York City and London.

    Aimee Mullins Speaking Videos

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    Aimee Mullins's Speech Descriptions

    Aimee Mullins has electrified audiences worldwide with her personal strength, resilience, and message of empowerment. Mullins challenges convention, urging people not to let others put constraints on them because of their differences. “What makes you beautiful are the traits that set you apart,” both she and her life testify. Mullins shares her experiences and perspective as a double amputee who has built a successful athletic and artistic career in emotionally raw presentations that will inspire you to live by your own rules.

      Topics include:

      • Inventing Your Life
      • Developing the Innovation Habit
      • From “Overcoming” to “Embracing”: Seeing Opportunity in Adversity
      • Finding Your Own Unique and Personal Expression of Beauty
      • Cultivating a Healthy Body Image
      • It's "Because of," not "In Spite of": Seeing Opportunity in Adversity

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