“Forget what you know about disability” is the message that comes across the screen before the start of a new electro-pop song by an artist that you’ve likely never heard of, Viktoria Modesta. However, after watching the video, it's likely that you will never forget her. Once the shock and awe wears off, you realize how absolutely stunning and provocative a woman with a shiny black spike is.
At the age of 16, Britain’s newest pop princess, and Latvia native, knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. However, a severely damaged leg that she sustained at birth leading to 15 operations between the age of 6 and 12 to repair it, was the only obstacle in her way to becoming a true performance artist.
After spending several years being turned down by one doctor after another, she started meeting with prosthetic specialists and began building her case. At the age of 20, a surgeon finally agreed to perform the amputation and Modesta’s new life began to blossom.
Modesta tells The Independent that,
"This is far from a hindrance, the operation actually gave me a new lease on life. I felt instantly rejuvenated like a new person. Within a month I was out walking on my first limb with a diamond cane for support. The journey of the different prosthetics that I've been able to work with and express myself with has been truly inspiring. I live my life in a conceptual way. I get to express my identity to its fullest eccentric limit with no compromise, I chose to merge my music and fashion with my psychical identity and I feel very comfortable about that. I believe a lot of people are afraid to follow their aspirations the society around us aims all of us to be normal so we go on feeling and questioning if are we normal and do we fit in but I think the focus should be on being an individual and enjoying our differences.”Since the operation, Modesta has been honing her craft as a pop artist and using her disability as a positive inspiration to those around her. The entertainment industry automatically labels those with disabilities as “unattractive.“ What physical limitations one has, should not define a person, nor should it automatically make them “unattractive.” A person defines themselves and WHO they want to be and, in this case, it is quite alluring.
“I believe sexuality is a basic human right. No one should have that taken away from them. I am not intending to fight a global battle on disability and sexuality however I hope that through my personal journey I can get people to ask themselves - where do their views come from on these subjects, are they their own, or have they been simply influenced by the uneducated folk tales.”
Since being inspired by a movie in which the lead actress wore various amazing prosthetics and then walked in the Alexander McQueen fashion show, the now 26 year old Modesta is determined to use her body and her fabulously designed prosthetics to challenge mainstream media to rethink their perception of disability and beauty.
As a rising star, she has performed at the Paralympics and starred as the Snow Queen with Dancing on Ice, while wearing a Swarovski prosthetic leg. In December of 2014, Modesta and Britain’s Channel 4 released a 6 minute video of her hit single “prototype” in collaboration with the Alternative Limb Project and Channel 4’s #bornrisky campaign during an episode of the X Factor.
The video shows off Modesta’s bionic leg encased in a silver prosthetic encrusted with Swarovski crystals, in a glowing futuristic looking piece and finally in a menacing black spike as she is spun around by wires in a provocative ballet number.
Although Modesta is kicking down doors and redefining what's powerful and sexy as the first bionic pop star, she is not the only one turning heads these days.
Double amputee, Noah Galloway, is set to become one of the most inspiring “Dancing with the Stars” competitors ever. On December 19, 2005 Galloway lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in an explosive device attack while fighting in Operation Iraqi.
After coming home to three children, whom he could no longer care for, and a long and painful stint in rehabilitation, Galloway became very depressed and withdrawn. Once an avid athlete, Galloway was now drinking, smoking and sleeping his days away in despair.
Several years later Galloway began to motivate not only himself, but other veterans to offer no excuses to get up and live. He now competes in adventure races around the country including Tough Mudder, Spartan events, CrossFit events and 5k and 10 k races, and yes, all in prosthetics.
As a motivational speaker and personal trainer, he takes no bull and allows no excuses from himself or anyone around him regarding physical limitations.
In November 2014, Galloway landed the cover of the November issue of Men’s Health as the magazine's “Ultimate Guy” for 2014. Not long after, Dancing with the Stars came calling and he was more than thrilled to take on a new challenge for his disability. On March 16th, season 20 begins with Galloway being the 2nd double amputee featured on the show.
Making the most of his TV appearances and magazine features, Galloway recently created the No Excuses Charitable Fund which raises money and awareness for charities including Operation Enduring Warrior and the YMCA.
As I pour through all the features that have been recently done on inspiring people like Viktoria and Noah, it not only reminds me of the fragility of my own body but it also makes my heart smile knowing that there are people out there who have not let themselves become defeated by a disability.
I will leave you with the words from the, wiser than her 28 years, Viktoria.
“‘It's about the encouragement of people like myself to come out and say there is a place for them if they are willing to work, she tells The Daily Mail. “I didn't get here by wishing that the world just accepted me, I got here by working really, really hard and believing that the script that was written for me wasn't the one that I was going to live. But I do believe that the shift of power is in people like myself. Because if you walk into a room and act like a victim and expect to be treated like that, then you will be. I think the world is generally moving into a more accepting place, but there is a long way to go. It's still so shocking when you see someone with a missing arm on television. There is a lot of work to be done.”
Here is Viktoria Modesta's full length video of her single, "Prototype"