Why I don't want my daughter to pledge her virginity

Over in America there are these frankly bizarre things called Purity Balls, no, it’s not a cleanser for testicles but an event in which young girls pledge to their fathers that they won’t have sex before marriage.  Within the conservative christian movement, these purity balls are spreading and now happen in 48 states across the USA with daughters committing to “live pure lives before God” to their fathers.

The images of these balls show young girls dressed in white, like mini brides, standing by their fathers, wearing suits akin to a groom.  The ceremonies have a similar structure to a traditional wedding with vows, dinners and speeches with the average age of the girls being 12 – 13, the kind of age where puberty is becoming more apparent.

The Christian Centre, which holds purity balls in Illinois states on their website; “We hope you will join us as we encourage young women to commit to moral purity” claiming it “holds high the banner of purity in the midst of a culture that destroys it.”

I have issues with this.  LOTS OF ISSUES.

Where are the purity balls for young boys to pledge their virginities to their mothers?  Or is it just the thought of women as sexual beings that appalls society?  Why is it not as important to these folk that their sons stay ‘pure’ till marriage?

Let’s think about that word ‘pure’, the opposite being what? Purity with regards to sexuality assumes that sex is an impure act.  That being in a sexual relationship before marriage means you are not perfect.  What a load of shit! Sex is not dirty or wrong, sex is sometimes a beautiful act between people who love and trust one another, it is sometimes a physical act of pleasure and nothing more, and yes, sometimes it can be about violence, power or ignorance.

Let’s teach our children about the joy of sex and what a wonderfully, deliciously perfect thing it can be in the right circumstances.  I don’t want my daughter to pledge us her virginity, I want her to pledge to us that she will come to us if she needs advice or support.  I want her to pledge that she will accept education around pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  I want her to pledge to us that she understands that sex within a relationship of trust, care and love is bloody wonderful.  I want her to pledge to us that she enjoys her sexuality and knows that any choices about her body belong soley to her and that she should never let others shame her.

We talk a lot in our home, we openly discuss things that in my youth would never have been spoken about. We tell our children that even if something feels embarrassing, that we will answer their questions and always tell the truth.  The idea of forcing them to swear to us that they won’t have sex before marriage seems crazy!

I can’t help but think that a child that pledges this at 12 has no idea of how she will feel at 16, 17 or into her 30’s and 40’s! Many women now choose either to marry later in life or not at all.  For this generation of women, marriage is not the be all and end all it was in the past and the idea that women must ‘save themselves’ is outdated, sexist and upsetting.  ‘Must’ being the operative word there, if women CHOOSE not to have sex before marriage then that is up to them, but it should be their choice and theirs alone.

I can’t help but think that girls who are pushed into making this pledge will face problems as they get older and have the natural sexual urges that we all do.  Sex then becomes a thing of guilt, shame and fear.  If at 16 or older (the legal age limit in the UK) they choose to have sex, they could feel a sense of guilt, an inability to speak to their parents, a fear of accessing sexual health clinics.  I fear it will result in a higher rate of teenage pregnancies and STD’s as well as a disconnect from their families.

It also completely denies the idea that these girls may be gay, trans or any form of sexual identity other than heterosexual

Sexual education is key to raising children into happy, well rounded and confident adults.  My education doesn’t differ that much between my sons and daughter.  They all get the same advice, we talk about the physical act of sex, the biology of it all.  But far more importantly, we talk about the emotional and social aspects of sex, about respect, trust, pleasure and love.

I was raised in a Catholic family and so shame and guilt were par the course! But I want my children to be raised knowing the joy of sex, the pleasure gained from sharing a deeply personal act of love.  I want them to know it is special, but that they have to make their own choices once they are 16, (and I do stress the age thing, not just because of the legal side, but because of the emotional maturity needed to deal with a sexual relationship).

I want my daughter to know that any slut shaming she faces is not ok.  That her body belongs to her, that I hope she makes good, healthy decisions and looks after her body, and any negativity she faces for expressing her sexuality is not ok, but unfortunately ingrained into some sectors of society and says more about them than her.

I want my boys to know the same values, but I feel I have to push harder against the shitty parts of life where women are taken for granted and so I hope they will grow into men who know that every relationship should be nurtured, that sex is about trust, pleasure and joy not power or violence.  That their gender doesn’t allow them a carte blanche to treat others badly.

I want them all to know that whatever their sexual orientation, that we will love and accept them and though I sometimes casually use the word ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’, what I mean is ‘partner’ and as long as they are happy, then we will be happy.

Above all, I want them all to know that they can speak to me or their dad and that we will try our best to accept, guide and support them in any questions or difficulties they face.  I don’t want a pledge of virginity, I want a mutual respect and love between us that means they can come to me if they need me.

These purity balls seem an outdated and irresponsible idea, let’s stop shaming our young adults into an inability to express their sexuality and help guide them through the minefield of emotions surrounding sex, feelings and relationships.


Sam x


Image by David Magnusson


And so after weeks of annoyingly vague Facebook and twitter status’ of secretive meetings in London (sorry about that!!!), I can announce my big news!

I have signed with wonderful agents Peters, Fraser and Dunlop and I am writing a book!!!

Since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of being a writer.  This was squashed out of me when my English teacher at school told me I would fail all my exams and would never be a writer. (I went and told her my great GCSE results grinning, thinking she would congratulate me.  She didn’t.)

My self belief and confidence took a battering when I became a teenage mum, I became convinced that everyone looked down on me and that the teachers at school would be laughing “I told you so” to one another.  As my friends went on to University, my life became a never ending cycle of nappies, feeding and sleepless nights.  With a husband who worked away for nine months a year and three kids under 5, my career choices felt extremely limited.  I also LOVED being a stay at home mum when my bambinos were little and so the dreams of being an author drifted further and further away.

The success of this blog has astounded me and pushed me forward, it gave me the confidence to put myself out there and through the help of friends I met with the bloody brilliant Nelle Andrew, who after a few meetings decided she would like to represent me and took me on as a client!  I am blown away, I can’t believe that I am getting this opportunity and I will grab it firmly with both hands!!

So what next?  My book proposal is being edited, rearranged and critiqued by Nelle and I am working my socks off to perfect it before we start sending it off to publishers.  Really excitingly, there are a couple of publishers already VERY interested and so life as an author begins!

Peters, Fraser and Dunlop is one of the longest-established literary and talent agencies in London and I am thrilled to be working with both Nelle as a literary agent but also the Media and Public Speaking departments and so I hope that the So Bad Ass message will spread wide and far and that I can make a real difference. (I think TV needs more bolshy, northern, plus size bad asses, don’t you?!!)

I want to thank you all so much for your support, love and messages.  The reason I write is to make a difference and to help others and the book will be an extension of this, I can’t give too much away right now but it will be a book about love, kindness and battles and it will be dedicated to every one of you that are So Bad Ass.


Love Sam xxxxx







Feeling like crap but carrying on regardless

It’s ironic that today on World IBD day, I spent the morning at the GP surgery. For a week or so I’ve not felt quite right, increased toilet visits, urgency and a couple of accidents. I have also been struggling massively with joint pain.

I had a Twitter chat with IA Support (isn’t social media brill?!) who suggested possible Pouchitis and recommended I visit the doctors. I put it off as my anxiety over being taken back into hospital kicked in and I wanted to hide from any medical professionals but then yesterday my son held my hand and it hurt so much I had to let go.

I realised it was probably time to call the GP…

So with a temperature, bad joints, increased poos with urgency and blood and feeling like I have the flu I am so fatigued, my dr thinks the same and I have some big boy antibiotics to try and kick this bout of pouchitis in the ass.

Yet it is world IBD day which means though I’d rather be in a duvet den I am actually on the bus into Sheffield ready to go on BBC radio to talk about IBD!

Because though I am a BIG fan of listening to your body and stopping when you need to, today is just too important to me to cancel. I do everything I can to keep raising awareness, to #stoppoobeingtaboo and to help as many people as I can. And I do it all whilst fighting my own battles.

I know today I can reach a large audience of people with IBD, as well as carers, family and friends of those with Crohns or Colitis. And so I will carry on regardless because it means EVERYTHING to me to make a difference.

This shitty disease that keeps knocking me down every time I am feeling better. It has to be for a purpose. I have to believe that my life isn’t a struggle for no reason, and I choose to believe that reason is for this Sheffield lass with a big gob to help others.

And so Ill keep going today, through running to the loo and grinding aching joints and I will make a difference.

(Let’s not even DISCUSS my day trip to London tomorrow for business meetings!!!!)

Luckily I am going on holiday at the end of this week with my lovely Timm and the kids to see my fab in laws in Lanzarote. Not great timing as I’m worried about ruining the trip but at least I have some down time and can relax and rest.

Love Sam x

World IBD Day – 19th May 2015

I’d like to ask all you readers who don’t have IBD a question.  Before you read my blog, did you know anything about Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?  And a second question, since you shared my links or spoke about this site, how many people you know have admitted they suffer with Inflamatory Bowel Disease?

People tell me that my site and other IBD blogs have made them realise that they have friends, family member and colleagues who have Crohns or Colitis and that is why I keep writing!  The more open we become about these types of illness, the better we can support those with IBD.  One of the toughest things to deal with is the isolation and embarrassment, and that is why my aim for this blot has always been to #stoppoobeingtaboo.



Every 30 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with Crohns Disease or Ulcerative Colitis and that is why awesome charity Crohns and Colitis UK are using World IBD Day on 19th May 2015 to raise awareness and enable more patients to access the best care possible.  With at least 300,000 people in the UK living with Crohn’s or Colitis, this means 1 in 210 people are living with these unpredictable, life-long and potentially life-threatening conditions.

This is why I am proud to support Crohns and Colitis UK and proud to share my experiences, make a difference and #stoppoobeingtaboo all over the world!

crohns and colitis awareness week

On World IBD Day, Crohn’s and Colitis UK are launching ‘My Crohn’s & Colitis Care’, a patient guide to the top 10 essentials of a good IBD service. This practical resource has been developed with the support of patients, healthcare professionals and health organisations, and is the patient companion to The IBD Standards². The aim of the new guide is to empower people with IBD to get the best from their local health service by working in partnership with their healthcare team.

So what can you do?

You can wear purple and ask others to do so too and make a donation to Crohns and Colitis UK either by text.  You can donate any amount, to donate £5, you would Text PURP19 £5 to 70070 Alternatively, you can make an online donation at justgiving.com/crohnsandcolitisuk



I thank every one of you who reads my blog, you are amazing and if every one of you could donate just £1 it would make a HUGE difference to the lives of IBD sufferers. If you can’t manage to donate then please just share these posts and get talking, you can make a difference by just speaking out and helping me to #stoppoobeingtaboo


Stay purple!

Sam xxx



Charity Haircuts!

As you may know, my son Thom and his friend Sonny decided to have their long beautiful locks chopped off to raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK, a charity that has supported me during my illness, surgeries and recovery.  Well, the day arrived and thanks to the wonderful Savills Barbers in Sheffield, the boys got some amazing haircuts and I am over the moon to announce that they have raised £381.22 (there is some more to come that hasn’t been put in the account yet!)

I want to thank the boys for coming up with the idea and going through with a huge change to make a difference to other people.  I am so proud of them both and think it is bloody wonderful that two ten year old boys are thinking of others.  And thank you so much to Joth and the boys at Savills for donating their time and talent to make our boys look so handsome.

If you have already donated, THANK YOU! If you haven’t then you still have time to add to the account.  Every pound counts so please consider donating.

I photographed the boys big day, enjoy!!

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Happy birthday to my Jpouch!

I can’t believe my jpouch is one year old today!!!!

A year ago on 14th May 2014 I had just been through a really tough surgery. I had woken without my Ileostomy bag and was facing my first day for nine months without pooing through my stomach!!


I was exhausted, terrified and in an awful lot of pain. I had a large tube in my bottom that would have to stay there for ten days and I also wouldn’t eat for almost two weeks.

Those first few days were bad. The pain, hunger, fear and emotional turmoil were so tough. To be honest the first few weeks were really awful, I was incontinent and taking so many drugs and learning to live with a pouch.

For the first few months I asked myself on a daily basis what had I done?! I had been warned that the recovery was brutal and would take 2 years but it was worse than I could imagine.  Everything seemed so much harder than with my stoma and I doubted my decision all the time.  Learning to use my pouch was like a toddler learning to use their bowels.  For the first weeks I had to go to the toilet every two hours, even through the night, setting an alarm.  This is because my pouch was made in a two step procedure, step one was colectomy and ileostomy and step two was pouch formation and reconnection – some people have the operations in three or more steps with the pouch being formed but not connected and then another surgery to connect it up a few months later.

The two hours was stretched to three and then four before the long  period of trying to ‘hold it’ for as long as possible to train the pouch to hold more stool and teach my body to go for longer periods between toilet visits.

The past year has been a huge learning curve.  There have been really difficult times where I have barely left the bathroom, there are times where I have had pouchitis, tummy bugs, butt burn, incisional hernia, surgery and so much more.  I still have ‘flare ups’ where my joints are so painful and I feel exhausted.  The fatigue hits hard at times.

But I can say, one year post surgery that I am really glad that I went ahead with the surgery.  My life is improving all the time, I can go longer between toilet visits and I am learning what food I can and can’t tolerate.  I rarely have accidents and I do feel that my health is improving all the time.  There are times when I don’t even think about toilets!!! It has been YEARS since I could say that!

sam cleasby so bad ass blogger

So happy birthday to my jpouch, it has been a crazy year! Here’s to the next one!!


Sam xx


Happy Anniversary

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary!

We married in Las Vegas in 2004 and renewed our wedding vows last year and I couldn’t be happier.

Life isn’t always plain sailing and we have had our moments of struggle, but we came through everything stronger than before and that Cleasby bloke and I, when we are together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

Over the last 2 years of surgeries, recovery and change, Timm has been my rock. The one person I can tell it all to, the one to hold my hand, to make it all better and to love me harder than ever before. He became my carer for a while and did it with love, sensitivity and respect.

sam cleasby timm cleasby

People tell me I am strong. But I am only strong because Timm is my roots, he holds me tall and supports my growth.

When life is good, he walks by my side, both of us smiling into the sun. But sometimes life just gets so heavy, my shoulders aren’t broad enough to carry the weight, that is when he steps in and scoops me up. When I need him to, he will carry the weight of both of us and does so with a smile. Then as it gets easier, he sets me down and we carry on our path together.





I just hope that when he needs me, I will carry him in the same way.

Happy anniversary to my favourite person in the whole world.

Sam x

So Bad Ass talk at Seven Hills WI

I did a talk at the marvellous Seven Hills WI in Sheffield last month about self esteem and body confidence.    It was fantastic to get to talk to such wonderful women and it was filmed so please do take a look.  I am a little bit sweary so not suitable for younger viewers.  It is 45 minutes long, so grab a brew and take a listen.

If you would like to book me to talk at your event, get in touch now.



Love Sam xx