Talli Osborne turns missing arms into inspiration at Supercrawl

Talli Osborne was born with no arms and missing bones in her legs. She stands at just under four feet tall. Osborne is taking a message of hope to others as a inspirational speaker, and on Sunday, she’ll speak at Supercrawl.

Inspirational speaker and musician brings body positivity to Supercrawl

Talli Osborne spent years trying to find (and love) the real her.

It didn't come easy. The inspirational speaker and musician was born with no arms and missing bones in her legs. She stands at just under four feet tall – something that hasn't gone unnoticed by people eager to be cruel in social media.

As a kid, the digs were subtle. Not being included at school, not being asked to dances. As an adult, bullying became more overt – photos of her surfaced on websites like Reddit where people have cruelly mocked her appearance. "That's hard. It's like a car crash," Osborne, now a Hamilton resident, told CBC Hamilton. "You just have to sit there and read page after page of negativity."

But in the face of that negativity, Osborne became an intensely positive person who is taking a message of hope to others as a inspirational speaker. On Sunday, she'll speak at Supercrawl as her "official intro to Hamilton," giving a talk on "what is beauty?" from the Mohawk College Fashion Stage.

So what exactly is beauty? "Confidence," she said. "I finally learned that I don't have to look like everyone else."

It was a lesson that took some time to take hold in her mind. Up until age 19, Osborne used prosthetic arms and legs that made her taller. "I wanted to look like everyone else so bad," she said. "But I wasn't shining. I wasn't the me I am now."

After a move to downtown Toronto, she ditched the prosthetics – which, she says, she hated using anyway. They were never comfortable, and didn't feel like an extension of herself in the way they are for some others. "And I changed," she said. "My confidence soared."

"The reason I couldn't be like everyone else is because I'm not. And I love that. Just love yourself – love your body. Embrace it."

Osborne recently left her full-time job of eight years to start speaking inspirationally full time. She's given talks to everyone from students to crown wards – and every time, she comes out with an amazing feeling. "It's the best feeling," she said. "It's the reason I know I'm supposed to be doing this."

A portrait of Osborne is also running at the What is Beauty photo exhibit by Blackbird Studios and the Hamilton Fashion Syndicate, which launches Wednesday at Baltimore House.

Osborne is also taking part in CBC Hamilton's live stream coverage during Supercrawl. She'll be in studio for a live interview at 4 p.m. on Saturday, which is open to the public.

"It's such an honour to be speaking at Supercrawl. I can't wait."