Past Disability, Future Ability
Our image on disability is truly limited and often stereotypical, but some exceptions such as the popular representations of Aimee Mullins, will try to offer us an opposite perspective upon disability. Who is Aimee Mullins you may ask? She is a well-known American athlete, actress and fashion model best known for her numerous achievements in the world of athletics, despite her having two prosthetic legs. The image that I have chosen is from an Italian magazine called "Wired "in which Aimee Mullins and Matthew Barney, both suffering from a disability, have appeared on the cover of the magazine.
In this picture, Aimee's facial expression emits a strong, confident feeling: her big brown eyes are focusing directly on the camera, her jaw is sharp and prominent, her lips have a soft pink color, drawing attention to her facial expressions, slowly opening her lips to have a more sensual look. Her blonde, shiny hair is softly touching her left part of the shoulder, curling down towards the end. Her right hand is positioned on her hip, gently resting her palm on the white, delicate dress while her nails, in the color of dark blue, are in contrast with the white dress, giving her a stylish look.
The only accessories that are remarkable in this picture are two different colored bracelets on her right hand, combining two contrasting shades: grey and black. It seems that the whole picture contains the same colors: grey, white and black, excluding the title which has a vibrant, orange color. These neutral colors help create a calm atmosphere, emphasizing the purity and delicacy of the woman, which is dressed only in white, and the sophisticated, virile features of the man who is dressed in a grey suit.
The background is composed from hundreds of small, plus signs, that are all put together to form squares, but they are slowly fading in color in the middle of the picture, where the background changes into a white, bright light. The bright shade in the middle of the picture is actually positioned right behind the prosthetic leg, that is resting on the men's knee, making the viewers focus on her complex, futuristic leg when they first view the image.
On the right side of the picture, there is Matthew Barney who is kneeling down next to Aimee Mullins, having his head turned towards her leg, with one hand tightly holding one of her legs up on his right knee, and in the other one he is holding a special crayon-type of ustensil, appearing to construct and perfect her prosthetic leg. He is wearing a certain type of professional glasses, that are usually used for protective measures when working in car shops or other dangerous areas. His eyes look like they are almost closed, because he is focusing down on the woman's leg, trying to improve her actual condition. On the bottom part of the image, you can see his pants that are curled up, in order to expose his prosthetic legs. The shape of his prosthetic legs are different from Aimee's legs, which are described as being "aerodynamically designed after the hind legs of a cheetah"(60), while his legs have a normal shape.
Aimee Mullins presents a unique combination of posthuman status with a strong sexual image. Even though the article is called "Evolution in Progress" the image does not focus on the technological evolution in the prosthetic area, but instead reveals the attractive, sexual image of a woman with a disability. The attention is focused on the prosthetic legs, but also on Aimee Mullins, who transmits a sexual vibe through her confident, feminine posture. She is facing the camera straight forward, in a graceful manner, having one foot up, that is securely placed on the man's knee.