gainesville, Virginia, 20155
May 19
I am a 36 year old amputee. I am also a Mommy to a very active four year old. I've been blogging about my experiences as an amputee parent, providing a real life account of what it is like to parent with a disability.


Amputeemommy's Links

APRIL 25, 2012 6:19AM

Socket Art

Rate: 1 Flag

A few days ago I was contacted by a reporter from CNN who was researching a story about prosthetics. Specifically, she was interested in learning more about the socket art trend that seems to be growing in the amputee community. I answered her questions and provided some photos of my newly decorated socket which I admit is understated by most standards.

When I first became an amputee, I distinctly remember telling my Mom and Scott that I wanted a cosmetic cover. I didn't want anybody to know that I was an amputee. More important than components, which I didn't understand, it was paramount that my prosthesis looked like a "normal leg." I didn't want anybody to know that I was an amputee for fear of being viewed as disabled or handicapped.

My first leg had a hand carved foam cover and a flesh toned skin. From a distance it looked like I had a matching pair, and It was only if somebody really stared that it was apparent that I was using a prosthesis.  The flesh skin was nearly impossible to clean and, unbeknownst to me at the time, did not tan. My right leg had a healthy glow while my prosthetic simply turned to a bleached out, dingy shade of orange. My quest to fit in resulted in my standing out because of my mismatched legs.

I recall the moment that I decided to get rid of the cover and to stop trying to camouflage my prosthetic almost as clearly as I remember insisting that I have the cosmetic cover.  It was late August and I was wearing a pair of shorts. I looked down to adjust my sandal when I realized the grime and stains that had accumulated in the fabric. It had become downright ugly.

Staring at the stains while trying to come up with a cleaning solution, I had an epiphany. It may sound obvious, but in that moment I accepted that my prosthetic is not my biological leg. I needed to stop trying to make it look like one. It was a prosthetic, manufactured with carbon fiber and titanium. It wasn't flesh and bone, but it was still beautiful because it enabled me to be independent. I rummaged through the junk drawer in our kitchen, found the box cutter and began to cut away the cover.

Many amputees have fabric laminated into their socket. I have never been able to find a pattern that I could commit to wearing everyday for several years. In lieu of fabric, I've always opted for black carbon fiber. I love that I can dress the socket with sticker embellishments or decorate it for holidays using Colorforms.

A few months ago while in my prosthetist's office, I finally saw a socket design I knew I would be happy wearing for years. It is not created by laminating fabric over the socket but involves dipping paper in chemicals. I'm not really sure of the specifics of the application process, but I do know that I love the look.  I jumped at the opportunity to have my socket tricked out in this manner. My current leg is shiny silver and covered with black rain drops and I couldn't be happier. It looks both clean and modern.

My evolution to becoming a confident amputee woman can be traced through my sockets. I have gone from "I don't want anybody to know that I'm different" to "Hey, check out this cool leg" in a relatively few years. Who knows what my next socket will look like!

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fascinating- a study of the aesthetic from a perspective I had never, would never, have considered. When is the illusion of art self-deception? does not clean function often have more beauty than any adornment?