If the phrase ‘sky’s the limit’ had a face, it would most likely be Kanya Sesser’s.
Born without legs and abandoned on the steps of a Buddhist temple at only three weeks old, Kanya did not have a lot going for her at an early age. Wrapped in a pink blanket, she was brought to a local hospital where she would spend most of her early days until she was finally put into the foster care system in Bangkok. At age five, she was adopted and brought to the United States.
These days, you will rarely find her in a wheelchair or in a position of determination though. More likely than not, Kanya can be found ripping the streets on her skateboard and defying every expectation set for her.
A skater, surfer, activist, motivational speaker, and model, Kanya rises above the conditions she was born with and inspires many others to express gratitude and to never let anything hold you back.
Whatever It Takes
Kanya Sesser is a true inspiration.
In an interview with the Nation, Kanya expresses that growing up with no legs was not the only difficulty she had to endure at that point. Coming from Thailand with the language, culture, and heritage in full tow, she had to relearn everything from the ground up so that she can thrive in the US.
“It was hard at first because I didn’t know English or any people. It’s like I had to adapt to a whole new environment and new people who I had never seen before,” she said.
According to her, she was only able to get through it all because of the support of her family and friends. She adds that they were integral to building the strong and positive mindset she leads her life with now.
“I don’t have legs but I still have my arms and I still use my bottom or skateboard to get around. My arms are pretty strong. I still use my chair, for instance, to go shopping. My lifestyle has created who I am today. And all the nurses, my adopted family, the friends around me, and people who I’ve met or who are just like me and understand me as well as the foundation have encouraged and helped me too,” Kanya says.
Since coming to America, her life has been a celebration of ability. She has since ditched her wheelchair for a skateboard and has taken up surfboarding and breakdancing. She has modeled since she was in high school and has served as an inspiration to paraplegic and non-paraplegic women alike.
“I learned by myself to overcome obstacles since I was a child, you have to look at what you can do with what you have, and live life to the fullest, without legs, without limits, and now I want to help other people to understand this motto and lifestyle,” she said.
She started modeling when she was 15 and has posed for a number of sports brands including Billabong, Nike, and Volcom. Because of her surf experience, she was also tapped to act in “Hawaii Five-0,” which then led to a role in the “Walking Dead” and “Fear of the Walking Dead.”
“When I booked my first modeling gig in high school, I felt like I was changing beauty standards in a way. But it’s not just about changing beauty standards. I’m in my own element, in my own skin—and that’s how I live my everyday life. I felt really happy that I get to show people you can be beautiful in your own skin,” Kanya says.
Kanya made global waves and shifted perspectives on the paraplegic train when she modeled for lingerie for the brand Pantyprop.
Kanya’s everyday life is chronicled in the campaign to show that nothing can get in the way of mastering life’s daily moments. Whether it’s brushing her teeth, reading a book, or taking a nap – anything is possible with the right tools and the determination to get things done.
“I’m different and that is sexy, I don’t need legs to feel sexy… I love showing people what beauty can look like,” Kanya told Cosmopolitan.
raditional beauty standards by striking a pose as a model for various brands.
“When I look at life, there’s no disability,” said Kanya. “I don’t see that as being a disability because even though I have no legs, there’s nothing I can’t do. I’m blessed for what I have so that’s all that matters.”
Despite her situation, Kanya developed a steadfast love for sports. She was immediately infatuated with skateboarding, started swimming at two years old, and also eventually picked up surfing, mono skiing, tennis, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair racing, hiking, breakdancing, quad driving, and a lot more.
“When I was growing up, my friends in my neighborhood, and I were all troublemakers. One of my girlfriends, Leah, had a skateboard from her brother and I wanted to try it. So, I hop on the skateboard,” Kanya says. This was how she started skateboarding for the first time.
“My first try was downhill and I almost got hit by a car. I had to fail and jump off onto the grass. I was like, “Wow, that was so freaking amazing.” I’ve loved skateboarding ever since, and I just adapt to it naturally. I love the adrenaline rush,” she added.
She also mentioned that she loves being on a skateboard because it makes her feel free.
“I could do anything on a board,” she says.
Kanyan Sesser Motivational Speaking
“[Some people] want to feel saddened by your disability. They’ll come up to me and say, “Can I pray for you?” I’d rather not have you pray for me,” Kanya says. “Sometimes, I want to punch those people because it’s kind of rude. I’m just Kanya. I’m just living my life.”
This is her position when it comes to how people should treat her. According to Kanya, people in wheelchairs are still just people.
“It’s good to ask questions and be open, instead of assuming. Talk to us about who we are. I think the thing we have problems with, is when parents don’t know how to talk to their kids about differences in abilities. And that’s why we’re here to change that by going to different teachings and different schools to activate kids about disabilities, so they can know,” she says.
Kanya is strict in her belief – nobody is normal. Everyone is different and everyone is beautifully unique. This is what she preaches in her motivational talks.
This is what she does when she’s not modeling or exercising for her next extreme sports feat. Kanya lends her story to help uplift those who share her circumstance. Kanya worked in the Venice Beach Freak Show as a motivational speaker.
“What I do is show and open up the world, open up the light of people, let them seek through open minds, and open up people’s perspectives. Anything can happen; anything is possible. You can conquer this world like anyone else. Life doesn’t need to be perfect because we’re not perfect. I don’t always need to be the hero. You don’t always need to be the hero. Just be yourself,” she says.
Kanya fancies herself as somebody who can serve as a good role model for people that have the same condition as her.
“We are all together and you are not alone. When people stare at you, just know that another 500,000 people like you are being stared at too every day,” she said. “But don’t let any negatives influence you in a way that makes you want to give up on yourself and don’t let anybody talk you down. There are so many opportunities in life. There are people around who know people who can help you too.”
Keeping in line with the natural radiant positivity that Kanya evokes, she encourages others to have the confidence to do the same and not be limited by anything. After all, if a girl with no legs from the orient made all her dreams come true despite the insurmountable circumstances, more likely than not, determination and a little hard work can help anybody else do the same.
“If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life, Kanya quotes Bruce Lee. “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”