I haven’t written in a while and that’s because I’ve been having too much fun! Rosie and I have been attached at the hip (well stomach) for 3 months now, and although I’ve had my wobbles, overall life has been amazing! But something that has resonated with me throughout all this fun is what I look like now! I mean I can’t exactly get away from the intestine poking out of my stomach… Or the bag that joins it!
I have an entirely new stomach and a body that has been through a lot in the last few years.
Body image and how we see ourselves is everywhere – My social media has always been flooded with photos of peachy bums, rock-hard abs and flat tummies! Since I joined the IBD/stoma community however, in amongst the fitness fanatics and gym-nuts I’ve come across some incredibly strong bagged beauties and body positive accounts that show we are all beautiful in our own right. It doesn’t matter what size clothes you are, it doesn’t matter how much you weight or if you have lumps, bumps, stretch marks or scars! The most beautiful trait is Confidence. And naturally, perfection follows.
Pre-illness I was obsessed with those peachy bums and flat stomachs! I wasn’t happy and wanted to be skinnier, more toned and taller – not very relaxing. Then colitis rolled in and I was too unwell to stand in the shower, let alone go to the gym! I went down to 5 stone, lost 80% of my hair, had a face ridden with acne and not to mention the moon-face that made me look like a hamster storing food for a million winters!
I couldn’t love myself because my body didn’t love me; it’s hard to love the skin you’re in when that skin has waged war upon itself. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying; draped in toddler-sized clothes with a face I didn’t recognise made me sad, angry and upset.
I gave up.
But now my colon isn’t having a panic attack (mainly because I don’t have it anymore) my body is much happier; meaning I’m much happier. It hasn’t been easy though – I didn’t leap off the operating table, look down at my scars, stoma and super swollen body and fall in love. To be honest, at the beginning I hated it. I was upset that I’d been forced into this situation and I wanted to be angry at it for a while. But as time has gone on, I’ve realised for the first time ever I’m happy with what I look like.
Actually, I’m not just happy, I’m proud.
I even got the opportunity to show it all off by modelling! Something I would never have done pre-Rosie because when I think of models I think of stick thin, with legs that go on for days and hair a Disney princess would be jealous of. I think of the kinds of people that can ‘wake up like this’, and I imagine they don’t have bed-hair that looks like they’ve been electrocuted. Or last nights makeup still all over their face going from smokey and seductive, to more of a panda vibe…
When I get out of bed I truly embody this electrocuted panda look, so when I was asked to model I can remember spraying my wine all over the kitchen (pretty sure most of it came out my nose)! I was so shocked that someone had asked me that I couldn’t stop smiling!
I mean me?! I’m 5ft 2in – a hobbit-sized human-being! My cousins always did call me Bilbo Baggins. Hoping that was just because I’m short and not hairy feet… (I don’t have hairy feet I’m pleased to say).
I was asked at a time when I wasn’t really loving myself; I had voices in my head telling me that no one could ever love what I’d become. Rosie hadn’t done anything other than save my life and I hated her. I was sick of having to bag change, annoyed that my life had gone this way and just upset about the whole thing! But getting this opportunity made me rethink all that. It made me see that I wasn’t unloveable with a stoma bag! It sent my confidence through the roof and made me fall in love with myself all over again. Promoting my bagged bod has become such a massive part of my life and I felt so lucky, so grateful and so honoured to be able to take part.
I might not have the ideal body type. I highly doubt people look at me and aspire to have a bag of shit on their stomach, but I look at myself now after everything I’ve been through, and I see something I can love again. I might have stretch marks, scars and Rosie the stoma but all this has allowed me to be healthy again! It has allowed me to be proud of myself.
I don’t have a conventional body anymore, but who wants to conform!
I am different and I love that!