The speaker shares why she dislikes the word “disabled” and how she learned to love inspiring others
BY TIFFANY CRAWFORD
Talli Osborne is a force. The Hamilton, Ont.-based inspirational speaker was born without arms and is missing the knee and femur bones in her legs—a congenital condition she was told the name of once but has since forgotten. She may not look like everyone else, but don’t feel sorry for her. She has learned to appreciate—and celebrate—her differences.
“Everyone looks different, and that’s what makes the world beautiful,” she says.
Although Osborne loves who she is, the journey to self-acceptance wasn’t always easy. “I used to want to fit in, but I couldn’t do it. I realized the reason I wasn’t fitting in is because I’m not like everyone else. I’ll never be like everyone else.”
“When I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence I do now,” she says. “I used to wear prosthetic arms and legs, and the prosthetic legs were kind of like stilts. I wore them until I was 19 years old because there was this feeling from all around me that I needed to be more like everyone else.“
When an old friend saw “tall” Talli for the first time and asked why she wore prosthetics, Osborne ditched them completely. She also stopped wearing baggy clothing that hid her body, instead opting for pieces that accentuate her figure and punk style. Her confidence soared and, she says, it was an amazing feeling. “Now first impressions are more of a positive experience because people can feel that I love myself,” she says.
Today, Osborne shares her stories and experiences with children, teens and adults across the country, encouraging people to focus on their self-worth instead of the things they may lack. She lives with her partner Pat, his two daughters and her feisty Siamese cat, Miso. And here’s a fun bit of Talli trivia: punk band NoFX wrote a song about her called, “She’s Nubs.”
“I think having a positive outlook and showing the world that I love myself is helping people be more comfortable with what makes them uncomfortable,” she says. “Seeing me on the street, people would assume I have it worse. They think I’m sad or don’t have a good life. I’ve worked really hard to be the opposite of what people think.”