Aimee Mullins is an actress, record-breaking Olympian athlete, model and inspirational speaker. In every aspect of her expansive career, she has broken boundaries and radically re-imagined the limits of human potential.

She first captivated the international spotlight in the world of athletics. She competed in a set of ground-breaking prosthetic legs modelled after the hind legs of a cheetah, created to replace the lower part of her limbs amputated as a baby. Having conceived of the legs, (now the international standard for amputee runners) she set world records in the 100m, 200m and long jump events and was appointed a leader of the U.S. delegation at the 2012 Olympics.

She’s a global inspirational speaker on topics related to body, identity, design and innovation. Her TED talks ignite our capacity to expand what we imagine to be the limits of human potential, and have been translated into 42 languages, inspiring audiences to develop the innovation habit, embrace adversity and cultivate a healthy body image.

As a model, her career has seen a dazzling array of collaborations. She made her runway debut with the legendary Alexander McQueen, and appeared in magazines including Life Magazine, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Rolling Stone, and People Magazine. She was the face of L’Oreal Paris and appointed as a global L’Oreal Ambassador in 2011.

As well as appearing in countless TV series and feature films, she recently starred in the hugely successful, award-winning Netflix series Stranger Things.

She’s a true renaissance woman, an utterly unique combination of captivating beauty, eloquence and limitless living.

Interview with Aimee Mullins – a true renaissance woman

1. You have a breath-taking ability to keep exploring the capacity of your human potential, from Olympic athlete, to public speaker, artist and actress. What does it feel like to expand into so many aspects of yourself?

It’s always been the way in which I liberate myself from the parameters others would set upon me or even my own parameters. I like reaching into the unknown…being a little bit scared can be its own thrill. It’s like getting to extend the period of make believe that we all experience as kids, where we play dress up or any kind of game where we assume different identities. I guess I just never wanted to give that up.

Also, I think most people have many different facets of themselves that they perhaps don’t expand into professionally, as I have, but do so in their personal lives. I certainly feel that way about the women I know, who as a matter of mental and emotional survival learn how to utilize different parts of their personalities depending on the task at hand, whether in a job environment, or in motherhood, or managing their relationship with their partner or their own parents.

2. In a world that’s so obsessed with defining people, you’ve often been described as impossible to categorise. How do you stay out of the boxes?

I don’t know that I ever deliberately set out not to be categorized, I think it’s just actually proven difficult to do — even for me! Trust me, I have long searched for a one-word term that can sum up “what it is that I do” but I haven’t settled on one that feels right. When trying to design a business card, it would be so much easier if I knew what that one word could be! I’ve asked friends to help me too, and we were all flummoxed. In the end, my business card simply has my name, and maybe those are the most concise two words that can appropriately contain me. (But I’ll gratefully take any suggestions anyone has!)

In the end, my business card simply has my name, and maybe those are the most concise two words that can appropriately contain me.

3. Do you think our perception of beauty is changing? What have you found to be the most powerful tools in changing the cultural narrative?

Yes I do think our perception of beauty is changing. I think social media is responsible for a lot of current ills in our culture, but one of its positive uses has been the ability for interesting and unique people to share their notions of beauty and why they feel powerful — and ultimately beautiful because of feeling powerful. I also think that so many young people have a band in the old ways of doing things and are making up the ways in which they want to see the world around them. I love seeing men walking women’s cat walk shows and vice versa. I love that so many trans models are so much more highly visible. I love that models like Tara Lynn and Ashley Graham and Kate Upton have taken the “plus- size” moniker and thrown it out the window by starring in campaigns that aren’t showcasing them as ‘other.’ One of the most successful campaigns Gucci ever ran was a recent one featuring a model who has Down’s syndrome. I applaud all these creative directors who really just finally said,” there are SO many people who don’t see themselves reflected in these fashion stories” and just changed them by casting more models we didn’t used to ever see. Even I am still doing the odd fashion shoot over twenty years since I started modelling, and no one raises an eyebrow anymore. It’s not perceived as transgressive as it was back in 1998. And that can only be a good thing!

4. You’ve spoken about our human ability to adapt being our greatest asset, do you think we’re collectively rising to the challenge during these extraordinary times?

Well I think some are doing a better job at adapting than others. Right now in United States there is an alarming number of people who refute scientific facts, whether about COVID-19 or climate change. There is a real feeling where some people want to push back against what they think has been an erosion of their quality of life, or how they think our society should function, or what it should look like, while for others, that space in society has been hard-fought-for and claimed in the name of rightful inclusion. I guess it’s there in the UK too, and perhaps more than a few other countries around the world: some people have a nostalgia for a past that doesn’t look like our modern reality. And I believe that attitude to be completely counter-productive to cultivating a greater ability to adapt.

5. Is a limitless mindset something you can practice? What could we be looking out for to help flex that muscle?

Give yourself time each day for two things: one is to be completely present, whether that is with another human being, an animal, or nature. Notice every little detail as you experience it. When you really connect in this way for at least a few minutes every day, you are galvanized by how extraordinary and beautiful this planet is, and how grateful you are for the love in your life. That goes along way toward having a limitless mindset.

The second thing is to give yourself time to daydream. Allow your mind to wander, especially into the realms of the ridiculous and unrealistic. We were all so good at this as children, but in school and in most of our jobs, we are asked to develop a narrow focus of concentration, and we are often punished for letting our minds wander. However, every brilliant person I’ve discussed this with (Nicholas Negroponte, Danny Hillis, Ray Kurzweil are a few, among many) has confirmed that their best ideas — whether a scientific realization or a creative thunderbolt — has come from daydreaming. That’s how you flex the muscle of removing boundaries and obstacles in your mind.

6. How important is imagination to you?

It’s as crucial as love.

7. Where do you find inspiration?

All around me! Lately I’m inspired by an extraordinary upsurge in kindness among strangers in New York City. I think because it was hit so hard by Covid, and so many people have lost their jobs while at the same time fearing for their health, there is a collective spirit that feels a kin to the months after 9/11. It’s as if a silent memo went out around the five boroughs saying “we really need to be soft with each other right now. Practice kindness, say hello to every person you encounter on the street, appreciate all the services people are doing in order to keep our city going.” Looking up from your phone screen really helps. I’ve been deliberately practicing putting my phone away for hours each day. I’ve turned off all notifications. And it’s been a joy to look up at the buildings around me and be beguiled by architecture, and the detail work of a stone mason from a hundred and fifty years ago, or look down and notice all the new plantings residents have put it at their own expense to make their streets more green and more lovely, or to find a great new book recommendation from the taxi driver. I hadn’t been in NYC for so many months as we were in California when lockdown happened, and I’ve fallen in love with this city all over again.

8. What’s alive in you right now?

Gratitude gratitude gratitude. It’s my Excalibur against the fear and anxiety that threatens to invade me in this global pandemic election year. Sometimes I quite literally start counting my blessings to get myself in a better mood…by the time I have listed things into the twenties I feel immeasurably better.

9. Ritual and Holistic Wellbeing are at the heart of our AMLY philosophy, what self care rituals are important to you and do you have a favourite AMLY product you incorporate into your everyday?

The self-care rituals that are most important to me would be: morning meditation, major physical affection towards and from my husband throughout the day, same with our cat Moxy, and some kind of water ritual. I love to take bags and often make up little bags of bath salts for my friends because I think it’s one of the last easy mood lifters. I also love the ham man-type ritual of taking a huge bottle of water into a steam room or a sauna and “schvitzing” as New Yorkers would say, then doing a cold plunge or cold shower to shock the system. Rinse, repeat. It sounds horrible but you feel incredible for hours afterward! I keep my skin care routine fairly simple in the summer: a mild cleanser followed by a swipe of a witch-hazel soaked cotton pad, then moisturize and pat on eye gel. I always finish with a few sprays of the AMLY silver mist as it both smells amazing and gives my skin a little glow! In the winter I add the AMLY city screen serum and the gorgeous day light face oil for added moisture barrier, and the sleep tight face balm before bed. All of AMLY smells divine with the natural botanicals and florals…it all feels like a self-care treat to use!

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