Talli Osborne: motivational speaker, musician

My mom says I was born with a ton of confidence, but when I started going to school, I began feeling pressure to be more like the other kids. All of a sudden, I was fitted with prosthetic arms and legs. It was kind of hard to like a body that didn’t feel like my own. 

A turning point came when I went away to university. I’d always worn prosthetics to school, although I’d skip them when I was hanging out with friends. One day I ran into one of my new friends, who had only ever seen me without them. He said, “Why are you wearing those? It’s weird!” Something hit me: “You’re right! I don’t have to wear them!” 

At the time, I didn’t have cute clothes that fit my real, 3-foot-5 body – those were all for “tall Talli,” who was 5 feet. So I went downtown and bought new clothes that were hugging my body and showing my curves. I gained so much confidence, and people could feel that confidence.

The other body image stuff others deal with, I deal with, too. I turned 30 and I put on a bunch of weight and I’m learning to love my body again. The no-arms-and-short-legs thing – I was over that like 20 years ago. But taking nude photos with a belly was a big deal for me!

People see me and they focus on what I don’t have. Their automatic reaction is pity. But before I tell you about the challenges in my life, let me tell you how awesome my life is. We all have our shit, and mine’s just laid out for you when you see me on the street. 

I feel like so many people don’t like the things that make them stand out – a big nose, a big butt, whatever. I think we really need to embrace those differences and make them sparkle, you know? I show off my big hips and boobs. I wear tank tops almost all year round to show my arms off. I got my scooter custom-painted, and it’s pink and covered in skulls. I love it. It shows the world that I’m confident. My strongest memory as a kid was wanting to fit in, wanting to be included. Now I do everything I can to stand out.


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See last year’s Body Issue here.

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