From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Aimee Mullins doesn't have any lower legs, but the last thing she wants, she says, is to be viewed as "a gimmicky disabled athlete. 'Triumph over tragedy'—how pathetic! I think people are generally freaked out that I'm multifaceted. You don't hear people saying, 'Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar—and she's blonde!' " The daughter of Brendan, a manager at a ball-bearing plant, and Bernadette, an insurance company claims adjuster, Mullins, 23, was born without fibula bones and had her legs amputated below the knees when she was a year old so that she could learn to walk on artificial limbs rather than be confined to a wheelchair. The Allentown, Pa., native soon learned to ski and play baseball and soccer as well. Mullins, 5'9", competed on the women's track team at Georgetown University, where she studied history and diplomacy, and at Atlanta's 1996 Paralympics. In her class she has set unofficial world records in the 100-meter dash (15.77 seconds) and the long jump (11'4½"). Last fall, at an Alexander McQueen fashion show in London, she made her modeling debut in custom-made high-heeled limbs carved of ash. "When women complain about shaving, I just tell them that I know a great designer," she says with a laugh. "He can even add a few inches to your height!" Mullins has six pairs of prostheses in all, including shapely silicon cosmetic legs and the carbon-graphite stems she wears to compete in track. She longs for snakeskin, glass and beaded versions. "Eyeglasses are a prosthetic too," she points out. "Look at the fun people have with eyewear!" Mullins, who dates high school beau Eric Treibner, 24, a Web site designer in Washington, D.C., is "obviously tough, but also very feminine and soft," says fellow model-athlete Gabrielle Reece. Modeling, Mullins hopes, is a path to an acting career. "I want to be a Bond girl," she declares. "Think about it—I have metal components in my legs, so when I go through airport security, I set off the alarms. But when they realize why I'm beeping, they let me through. What if I had weapons in my legs? I could take one off and pull out an Uzi! Legs Galore—that would be me!"