If you asked the average person what an ostomy bag is, they probably wouldn’t know, and they’d likely cringe once they found out. For that reason, many ostomates live in shame. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In the last couple of years, a few ostomates have broken ground by showing that you can be fit, beautiful, and yes, sexy — even if you have an ostomy.
Ostomates who spread awareness – and look good while doing it
Jessica Grossman spent a huge chunk of her childhood bedridden because of Crohn’s disease. When dietary changes and medications didn’t work, ostomy surgery was her last resort. Since then, she’s been able to live a full life without any health issues. Her ostomy saved her life and she’s not ashamed of it. In 2009, she started Uncover Ostomy, an online magazine that spreads awareness and encourages body positivity for people living with ostomies.
Some find her approach to be controversial — she regularly poses semi-nude, proudly showing her ostomy bag. But for many young women, Jessica shows them that you can be hip, sexy and fashionable even if you have an ostomy.
Bethany Townsend also suffers from Crohn’s. A former model, she’s had quite the journey trying to find the best treatment for her disease. With the encouragement of her husband, she decided to wear a bikini on vacation to Mexico. She shared a picture of herself in a bikini with her ostomy bag on display with the Crohn’s and Colitis UK foundation, and, to her surprise, she became a viral sensation.
“I’ve had Crohn’s since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later I was having 16 inches of my bowel taken out.”
Her story was covered by press from around the world, and she’s even considering re-entering the fashion world again after the outpouring of support. See what she has to say below:
Blake Beckford is a fitness model, ostomate and ulcerative colitis sufferer. His dreams of becoming a fitness model were initially stifled by his disease. After 10 years of fighting it with medications, he opted for an ileostomy. He was told that this would be the nail in the coffin for his fitness dreams, but he decided not to let that stop him. He developed his own slow-and-steady workout regimen, despite having limited core strength.
Now, Blake is in perfect shape to compete in physique competitions. He’s even been featured on the Today Show, Men’s Fitness UK, and countless other media outlets. He’s using that public attention to spread awareness about ostomies, share health and fitness tips and run Ostomy Reviewer, a site that reviews ostomy products.
How you can show your ostomy pride
Jason McIntosh had to have colostomy surgery in 2012, and didn’t even take a moment to wallow in self-pity about it. Instead, he and his girlfriend started Awestomy!, an online store that sells wraps, clever t-shirts (“Poppa’s got a brand new bag!”) and even booty shorts for ostomates. Their merchandise and their blog are light-hearted, relatable resources for anyone who wants to take a humorous approach to talking about and dealing with their ostomy.
Did these ostomates inspire you? Tell us your ostomy story in the comments below or tag us (@athomemedical) in your ostomy pics on Instagram!