At 56 years old, Mary Anne, a content and happily married mother of three grown children, approaches her missing limb with a straightforward attitude. However, her journey to this mindset was not always so clear-cut.
Born as a congenital amputee, Mary Anne’s formative years were spent in Toronto during the 1960s and 1970s, a period when the concept of inclusion wasn’t prevalent.
Similar to many individuals with amputations, Mary Anne’s childhood was marked by the use of various artificial limbs.
At the age of ten, she was fitted with a body-powered upper-extremity prosthesis equipped with a figure-8 harness. Unfortunately, this choice in prosthetics didn’t contribute positively to her self-esteem during her teenage years.
She endured the hurtful nickname “Captain Hook,” a moniker that, despite her outward strength, left her feeling distinctively vulnerable. The sense of exclusion from social activities due to her one-handedness elicited internal tears.
The landscape has shifted over time, with advancements in technology and shifts in fashion influencing the perception of disability. The emergence of tattoos as a fashionable trend has empowered more prosthetic wearers to forgo traditional, flesh-colored prosthetics that blend in, opting instead for ones that stand out and reflect their unique personalities.
While blending in was of utmost importance when Mary Anne embarked on her career, she eventually encountered the Pillet Hand, which became a catalyst in altering her self-image.
For Mary Anne, the Pillet Hand was a transformative revelation that significantly improved her self-esteem. She no longer seeks to conceal her amputation; instead, she embraces it as a part of her identity.
Embracing her prosthetic arm invites inquiries from others, but these questions stem from curiosity about the arm itself, not the circumstances of her amputation. This shift in perspective has allowed her to navigate conversations about her limb difference with grace and ease.