All our research is curated and peer-reviewed giving you access to an unmatched library of information all in one place.

Body Image and Prosthetic Aesthetics: Disability Technology and Paralympic Culture

The success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games not only revealed new public possibilities for the disabled, but also thrust the debates on the relationship between elite Paralympians and advanced prosthetic technology into the spotlight. One of the Paralympic stars, Oscar Pistorius, in particular became celebrated as ‘the Paralympian cyborg’. Also prominent has been Aimee Mullins, a former Paralympian, who became a globally successful fashion model by seeking to establish a new bodily aesthetic utilizing non-organic body parts. This article examines how the modern discourse of prostheses has shifted from the made-up and camouflaged body to the empowered and exhibited body to create a new cultural sensitivity in terms of body image – prosthetic aesthetics. Prosthetic aesthetics oscillates between two polarized sensitivities: attractiveness/‘coolness’, which derive from the image of a perfect human-machine synthetic body, and from abjection/the uncanny, which is evoked by the actual materiality of the lived body incorporating a lifeless human-made body part.