My name is Kelsey! My Instagram is @kelseyy.ryan. I was born without my right hand. My family doesn’t exactly know why I was born this way. It was never seen on any ultrasounds, but doctors have guessed that it may be due to amniotic band syndrome. Growing up, I had a lot of ups and downs. I’m fortunate to have an amazing family that loves me and doesn’t treat me like I’m different. They’ve always supported me in anything I wanted to do. However, even with their support, it’s still not easy being other than most people. Unfortunately, like many children that are different, I experienced bullying throughout my middle school years. I was called names, made fun of, and left out because of my arm. I started noticing the stares I would get from strangers in public. I imagined the awful things these strangers were probably thinking about me in their heads. This obviously caused a lot of self-esteem issues. I started to hide my arm and hate myself for being different. I experienced depression and anxiety and desperately just wanted to be expected. Luckily, as time went on and my peers started to mature, the bullying stopped. Although the insecurities were still there, I started to become more comfortable in my own skin again. In high school, I created my first YouTube channel where I posted one-handed tutorial videos to help other people like me. I also joined social media groups with other limb different people and discovered this whole world that I never knew existed. This really helped my confidence knowing that there are other people out there that are just like me. It gave me a new passion to spread my story and help others not feel alone.
I began advocating for body positivity and educating others on limb differences. I used my voice by competing in the Miss America Organization, speaking at elementary schools, and with college groups, creating YouTube videos, and starting a limb difference podcast. I’ve never let my difference stop me from anything. I was a cheerleader for 10 years and cheered Ball State University. I’ve participated in musical theatre my whole life, and I’m currently a registered nurse in school to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Creating a more inclusive world is something I’m so passionate about and I’m excited to continue to share my story in hopes that I can inspire others.