My body will never be the same again. I will always have a scar line stretching two-three inches above and below my belly button. My belly button will always be a different shape. Even if I don’t have the stoma forever, I will have another scar in its place. And I will never have a large intestine again. That, I will never get back.
On 14th January I had life altering surgery because of a severe flare up of ulcerative colitis. I now have this scar where the surgeons cut me open and I have a stoma which means I need to wear a bag attached to my body at all times. I poo out of the stoma and into the bag.
I’ve talked about my recovery a lot online and I get people telling me how brave I am and how well I seem to be coping. But I would be lying if I said I’m some kind of superhero and found this all really easy.
It has been so fucking hard.
I’ve always been a fairly confident person when it comes to my body and my sexuality. I never imagined something like this happening to me (even though I’ve had UC since I was 7 years old). Poo isn’t sexy. Having a literal bag of shit hanging off your body at all times isn’t sexy. I don’t have a freakin’ colon. WTF.
This photoshoot for me was about proving to myself I’m still beautiful, I’m still sexy. My body isn’t “ruined” because of what happened (that was an actual word some troll on instagram used to describe my body).
It has been an emotional rollercoaster and there have been a lot of tears along the way. I didn’t cry on this shoot, it was a super fun day and I had the best people around me! Linda, the photographer, my hair and makeup was done by Ashleigh and Becca shot the behind the scenes mini doc.
A couple weeks ago I premiered the mini doc at Buffer Festival in LA. I’d already watched it a bunch of times but was not expecting to react the way I did when watching it in that theatre surrounded by lots of people. I was on the front row and I just burst into tears. My little speech after it was shown was full of heavy breathing and wiping tears away.
I ADORE these pictures that Linda took. She is so talented and when I look at them I don’t even see the stoma bag there. I just see a woman who is happy and comfortable in her skin.
I want to to be her all the time. The reality is that it’s only been 4 1/2 months since surgery and I’m still adapting. My internal wound where they sliced me open still hasn’t healed, my core is still weak as shit. In my head it makes sense that I have a stoma bag because I’m still in recovery but I think I’m expecting my whole body to go back to “normal” once my stomach is healed.
But it won’t. And I think it’s going to take me much longer to realise that my stoma is here to stay.
This shoot is a message to all those with stomas, with IBD, with scars to tell you that your body is still beautiful. Your body is still worthy of being celebrated and seen.
It may seem like I’ve got my shit together but believe me, doing things like this is simply part of my healing process. And I am slowly but surely healing.
I hope you enjoyed the shoot. Please do go show some love to the women involved.
Also, on Saturday 9th June I am doing a sponsored 5km walk for the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK. It’s part of their WALK IT events. I’m walking with my parents and we’re raising money so if you are willing please do donate to my JustGiving page. The work they do is so important in supporting those living with IBD and stomas and raising awareness. And maybe one day we’ll find a cure. Thank you.