My fourth interview is with Brittney, a right leg amputee from California who may be better known as Amputee Brittney, the model running her own web site amputeebrittney.com. Brittney’s 30-ish, in a relationship and has been an above the knee amputee since age 7, when she lost her leg to cancer. So, a view this time from someone who will hardly have known a life other than being an amputee.
How does being an amputee influence how you’re looking at yourself?
“I don’t know how to answer this question. I only remember myself as an amputee, so I look at myself as everyone else would look at themselves.”
Are there things you really would wanna do that you can’t, or have you ever envied other kids in your youth for such things?
“No, I have never been that kid who would stand in the side lines. If I say I can do it, I will. In middle school I did have a short depression stage and envied anyone with two legs. I did grow out of it. I have no need to envy anyone. I’m truly happy with myself and how my life has turned out. I mean, if you aren’t proud of yourself, why should anyone else be? Happiness starts inside and not outside.”
How do you feel about your body? Did that change over time, and if so, how?
“Growing up, I didn’t like the way I looked. People would stare at me and look at me funny, because I was a child with one leg. As I grew up, I realized who cares what everyone else thinks. I started to look at myself as a strong woman who will love myself, no matter what!”
When did you come to that realization? It must not have been easy to grow up to adolescence, with gender identitity and sexuality developing. How did e.g. boys looking at you influence how you felt about your body?
“I have never had issues with boys or my peers. Nothing stopped me in my teen years, in middle and high school. I was involved in clubs and sports. I was also voted by the school to have most influence over the student body among only a handful of other students. I was even awarded with 5 scholarships to college. When a person has confidence the world will see it and will accept you for whoever you are.”
How big a role in your life does being an amputee have? In which respect(s)?
“I’m not sure, all I know is being an amputee.”
Is it ever limiting you?
“Having a disability is only limiting if you allow yourself to be limited.”
Do you feel people in every day life look at you differently?
“Yes, people will always see me as an amputee rather than a regular girl. People always assume I can’t do anything because I’m missing a limb.”
Are you encountering things like pity, turn-off, or belittling?
“Not really. I know peoples’ hearts are in a good place. I don’t like to think people are going of his or her to help me, to be a form of pity or belittling.”
What would be your main exasperations in that respect?
“To prove them wrong and show how capable I really am”
Anything you really hate or what can drive you mad?
What would you most like to be different in how people look at you as an amputee?
“I would like to be looked at as a regular girl, just with a missing limb.”
As many will know, you’re a model, and you nowadays run your own web site.
When did you first start modeling?
“I started in college.”
What made you decide to go do it?
“I was bored and saw an ad for modeling on my colleges bulletin board. Ever did I know it would have this much of an impact in my life.”
Did being an amputee cross your mind as a ground for maybe not doing it, or for being rejected because of it?
“I didn’t care for any of that!! I just wanted to live. I figured I would work out all the details after I was cancer free.”
What did you think of the response you received?
“I got a call with an overly excited manager, telling me he got over 100 people contacting him within 24 hours over my modeling pictures. I really didn’t know what to say.”
You also model nude. What made you decide to? Do you have an aim with it?
“My aim was to show the world not to be scared of your own body. Love yourself no matter what your body looks like.”
What was your aim to start your own web site?
“To show the world that beauty isn’t what the media showcases.”
Did it change the way you look at yourself?
“No, I still think of myself as a strong confident woman.”
On your website, you say ‘having a disability is a gift, and should be shown and not hidden’. What makes it a gift for you?
“Because it has made me who I am and has shown me to love myself.”
When did you first become aware of the existence of devotees?
“As a child, I was told to watch out for devotees.”
What was your initial feeling about it?
“Whenever I asked why I had to watch out for devotees, no one could really tell me why. So I kept an open mind.“
How did it make you feel there were people apparently attracted to amputees? Did you find it weird, interesting, disgusting, frightening?
“None of the above; I found it normal. Nothing wrong with being attracted to a person’s body part. What’s really the difference between a stump, boobs and butts?!? All body parts!!”
Did that change over time?
“As I got older, I realized ‘devotee’ was just a word people who don’t understand or know anything about the amputee community created to scare people. I have come to the conclusion when people are scared, they project it. I find nothing wrong with being an devotee. To me, being attracted to an amputee is the same as being attracted to a big butt woman.”
Is there an ethical thing in it for you? That devotees require someone they feel attracted to to be disabled?
“Nope. Some people are attracted to white girls, some to black girls and some to disabled girls. It’s really not that crazy!!”
Did modeling play any role in how you look at devotees?
“No, I find most people I talk with are very sweet and kind.”
I take it you’re aware your modeling is part of how most devotees enjoy their attraction. You’re okay with that?
“If I wasn’t okay with it, I wouldn’t have a website, silly!!”
If you could give devotees some advice, what would it be?
“Don’t be scared to be yourself. Most devotees I talk with are not comfortable talking about it.”
And finally, is there anything I didn’t ask that you would have loved to tell?
“Not that I can think of.”
Brittney’s website is amputeebrittney.com