Week 2 – Operation No Operations

So it is week 2 of Operation No Operations…

This week has been harder due to a combination of things, eating out a couple of times which I find really difficult to make healthy choices, wine and struggling to exercise.

The whole point of my weight loss attempt is to improve my chances of holding off hernia surgery.  Since my last operation to create my permanent ostomy I have developed 2 hernias but I just can’t deal with the thought of more operations right now and so I thought losing a bit of chunk and getting fitter would help.

So this week I lost a grand total of 0 pounds.  Honestly, I am a little gutted, but I know why this is.  I have eaten out at an Italian and been to a wedding this week.  When I am in the house, I am finding it easy to eat well and healthily, but out and about I really struggle!

I think the main issue this week is that I only managed my 10,000 steps on three out of the seven days.  I have struggled because my hernias are achy and sore, I am wearing support underwear and an ostomy hernia belt but it has been difficult.  I have also felt very tired this week, I am not sleeping very well, I wake 3-6 times a night to empty my bag and so I wake in the morning feeling exhausted.  This makes it hard to have the will power to get out walking.

I did manage this twice, but I want to be walking every day… I filmed one of my walks early in the week…


So this week, my aims are to walk every day and get to 10,000 steps.  It is my birthday this week, so I have the feeling I may go over calories a couple of times.

I am not stressing too much about it, I know I am making positive and healthy changes to my diet and exercise, if I lose weight then that is a bonus, but mainly I want to be fitter and have a stronger core to help with these flipping hernias.


Total weight loss = 5lbs


Sam x

Me Before You

I have been chomping at the bit to write an opinion post on the film and book Me Before You, but I have held off for a week as though I am part of the disability community, as a non wheelchair user I didn’t want to speak over some of the amazing voices who are making a lot of sense.  (Take a look at the work of Kelly Perks-Bevington, Michaela Hollywood and Mik Scarlet.)

Me Before You is a book by JoJo Moyes that has been turned into a film this year.  It is a story centred around the relationship between Will, a quadriplegic playboy played by Sam Claflin, and his carer Lou, played by Emilia Clarke.  Will has an accident that results in him being in a wheelchair and decides that he wants to end his life, Lou begins a relationship with him but *SPOILERS* ultimately, he goes ahead with his plan to let Lou live a life without burden.

Seriously.  A life without burden.  #LiveBoldly is the hashtag that the film promotes, which seems ironic when they are romanticising suicide, the character is doing the very opposite of living boldly.

Disability is an issue that many people feel uncomfortable with, I do some work with charity Scope, almost all the work I do is about counteracting the ideas and connotations that society have about disability. We are constantly fighting against these huge generalisations. The fact is that many people have said that they’d rather die than… be in a wheelchair/have a disability/have an ostomy.

stoma ileostomy bag woman me before you disability

Imagine being a person in a wheelchair/having a disability/ostomy and knowing that swathes of society look at you with pity. They think your life and existence is a burden to those around you. They would rather die than be like you.  This is what this film promotes.

People have said to me or about me, that they would rather die than having an ostomy bag.  I don’t think you can imagine just how devastating this is, the knowledge that your life is seen as unworthy, that someone cannot see past my illness to the wide and full life I live, they don’t see me as a partner, a mother, a friend, a colleague.  They simply see this one aspect of my life and deem me as suicide fodder.

I have an invisible disability, in most circumstances, unless I tell you about it, you wouldn’t know about my illness.  Living in a wheelchair is a very different kettle of fish, it is visible and therefore much easier for others to judge you based on your illness or disability.

There have been times in my life where I have felt like a burden, when I needed daily care, when I needed help to shower, when I couldn’t do anything for myself.  There have been times when I felt so low that I couldn’t cope, when I felt that perhaps my husband was better off without me in his life.  I offered to leave him, to walk away to allow him to have a “normal” life with someone else.  He told me I was being a nob head and to shut up.  He told me that we are in this life together and no matter what happens, we will live it together.  I needed to hear this.

I definitely felt a pressure to not be a burden to others, I think this is because we aren’t used to seeing people with illnesses and disabilities in a positive light.  I thought that if I wasn’t 100% able bodied, that I was a burden and not enough.  I am glad that the people surrounding me were there to tell me that was bullshit.

Suicide is a very difficult topic, it is emotive and will always create debate and discussion on all sides. The author of this book knows this, to suggest she is surprised by the uproar from the disabled community is ridiculous.

Imagine this film where being in a wheelchair is replaced by mental illness. Or having an ostomy. Or having diabetes.  Imagine if the story was then about how brave that person was to kill themselves to allow someone they love to move on… Not nice eh?

Then there’s the realisation that the industry is run by able bodied people who are misrepresenting people with disabilities.  An able bodied writer, director and actors in a film about disability, where was the disabled voice in any of this? Why not use an actor who uses a wheelchair? Or a director with disabilities?

stoma ileostomy bag woman me before you disability

Disability is severely underrepresented in the media, around 1 in 5 people have some form of disability but that is not represented in the shows we watch, the films produced, the radio we listen to.  The depiction of disability in the media plays a major role in molding the public perception of disability and so the lack of representation in the media is a huge problem.

Then when we have disability in the media, it is often portrayed negatively.  The media generally depicts people with disabilities according to common stereotypes such as pity and heroism, known as the ‘pity/heroism trap’ or ‘inspiration porn’.  There are few roles and characters that are played by someone with a disability that are not about them having a disability.

The director said she couldn’t find an actor with disabilities and so went with the able bodied actor that is in this role.  Imagine if this was about a black character, imagine the director saying they couldn’t find any good black actors and so they are going to ‘black up’ a white actor.  This is how it feels to see able bodied actors ‘cripping up’.

As Michaela Hollywood points out “Director Thea Sharrock said that she wanted to avoid portraying the realities of living with a disability in the film, such as being hoisted into a bath or being helped to clean, because she wanted to make Will’s disability “more normal”. In doing so, she strips the character and film of any real meaning.

Sharrock is right that disability needs to be normalised, but that will only happen when people like her stop leaving my reality on the cutting room floor.”

Some people may say that I am overreacting, that this isn’t real life, that it is ‘just a film’.  But I believe that films like this are perpetuating such negative stereotypes about disability that we have to speak up.

I would just ask for people to step back from able bodied privilege and think.  Think about the message that this film portrays, that the disabled character feels his life is not worth living because of his disability, that he believes that he is such a burden on everyone around him that they are better off without him, that he is not worthy of life.  Then remember that these are the words coming from an able bodied writer, not a quadriplegic man.


Sam x




No ifs or butts

Life is hard.  It sometimes gives us fights that we never thought we could conquer, but it also has moments of pure happiness too.

I was on BBC Sheffield recently on a piece they do called ‘My Life So Far’ where I spoke about family, illness and the lessons I have learnt through my life.  One of the questions was ‘if you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?’, my answer was ‘No ifs or butts’.  The reason is, firstly I love a pun and I no longer have a butt! The second was a more serious point in that I think we need to stop making excuses and take responsibility for our own life.  No one is going to come along and make your life full of rainbows and sparkles, no matter how tough things are, only you can make your life better.

positive life quotes sheffield lifestyle blogger

There are lessons in life that we could all do with listening to now and again.  Here are mine…

Take full responsibility for yourself.

Success isn’t about money, it is about happiness.

Have a hobby that makes you happy

Find the people who make your soul happy and spend time with them.

Learn that some people are toxic, avoid them.

Read books and feed your mind.

Make time for the people who you love.

If you spend Sundays dreading going to work, you are probably in the wrong job.

Be yourself, don’t follow the crowd.

Travel whenever you can, it broadens the mind.  Explore your local area, travel doesn’t have to mean going to the other side of the world.

Accept your emotions, laugh when you’re happy and cry when you’re sad.

Say yes more.  Fear holds us back, say yes to things even if they scare you a little.

Look after you, make yourself a priority, you can’t help others if you are broken yourself.

Know that we are all struggling in our own way, you are not the only person who is anxious, scared and nervous.  Some just hide it better than others.

Just be nice.  Kindness is underrated, be open, loving and kind.

Don’t judge people based on their appearance but on the kindness of their soul

Be in the moment, over analysing is a sure way to make you sad.

Open your mind to new things, you are never too old to learn something new.

Life is short, live your dreams even if others don’t get it.

Accept that sometimes you will fail, but at least you tried!

Sam xx

Sheffield Live TV

I was thrilled to be back on Sheffield Live TV last week with Simon Thake just before World IBD Day…


Talking Sheffield 17.05.2016 part 1 from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.



Sam xx

Vanilla Blush – Ostomy underwear that makes you feel awesome

I met Nicola at the recent Get Your Belly Out Ball who is the owner of Vanilla Blush and we got talking about the brilliant work she has done in the field of Ostomy Underwear.  As an ostomate herself, Nicola has created a range of beautiful underwear specifically designed for people with an ostomy bag.  Nicola kindly sent me some of her products to try and I am so impressed!

There are ranges for both men and women and they go from hernia support wear to swimwear to beautiful but practical underwear.  They look like any other high waisted underwear from the outside but have an internal pouch that houses your ostomy bag, keeping it off your skin and close to your body.

sam cleasby Nicola dames Vanilla Blush ostomy underwear

I tried them out and I can’t believe how great they feel, I have never worn specific ostomy underwear before, always choosing everyday pants but now I have tried these, I am a bit in love.  I think originally I felt that they were trying to hide the ostomy bag away and I wasn’t comfortable with that, but having tried them, they are so practical and cleverly designed and make me feel awesome.

What I love most about them is they are not medical, they don’t look any different to beautiful lingerie, the website doesn’t scream “SICK PANTS FOR SALE HERE!”  Buying and wearing these knickers just felt like a great experience.  I don’t want reminders of my illness, especially not when Im trying to wear something to feel good and Vanilla Blush get it so right.

Going from a UK size 6-8 up to a 20-22, there is a good range of sizes so most people should be able to find something for them.

I wore the hernia support vest and I felt really held in and like my hernia was well supported, and it looks like any other vest.  This allowed me to do some gardening and housework, something I had been struggling with before. (Although after taking this photo, I realised I had it on backwards!!!)

vanilla blush ostomy underwear hernia support vest

I love that all the models on the website are real people with real ostomies.

I also tried the other knickers and just fell in love with them, I felt in control, beautiful and awesome. My sister saw them and wanted a pair for herself and she doesn’t have an ostomy! They feel very well made, as good as any high end underwear I have bought before and wash well.  I have to admit that I put them through the washing machine before reading the website which advices hand washing, but they did survive a 40 degree wash with no ill effects.

vanilla blush ostomy underwear


Warning… If you are my mother or child or don’t want to read about sex, step away from this post now!

Still here? OK, so Vanilla Blush do some crotchless knickers.  I loathe to use that term as it sounds so tacky and creepy.  The underwear is the same shape as the other pants but has a split gusset that looks like normal knickers when together or when separated it is open.  I wasn’t sure about these, we got them out and had a giggle and talked about the connotations of crotchless knickers.  Then I tried them on out of curiosity more than anything.

As you know, I don’t like talking about my sex life on here, but I have to say, they are a very clever design.  It’s not that I want to hide my ostomy bag or that it shouldn’t be seen, it’s more that the presence of it can sometimes be off putting, the rustle of it is a subtle reminder that it is there and so these pants mean you can be intimate whilst your bag is safely in the pouch and flat to your body.  The pants looked classy and like beautiful lingerie, it didn’t feel seedy or weird but just that someone had actually thought about the sex life of people with an ostomy, which is something hospitals and doctors simply aren’t doing.

OK, enough sexy talk!

vanilla blush

These knickers rock, I adore them! Go take a look at the website and if you are in the UK, take a look at the prescriptions page, you can apply for:

  • UNDERWEAR: 6 pairs per-year (these have an internal Stoma-support pocket).
  • SUPPORTWEAR: 3 items per-year (Level 2/3 flexible Hernia Prevention Support inbuilt).


If buying yourself, prices for underwear go from £13 -£20.  Not cheap I know, but they are of such a great quality and certainly compare positively to more expensive lingerie, I think it is well worth the money and will certainly be buying more.


Sam xx


Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review, but I was sent the underwear for free from Vanilla Blush.  From time to time, I work with companies who sponsor me in some way, either though payment or products.  I will only work with companies that I believe have something positive to offer my lovely readers.


Opus Healthcare Ostomy Support Videos

Last year I had a day filming with Opus Healthcare, I have used their products before and was asked if I would help them on a project where they wanted real life people with ostomies and jpouches to talk openly about their lives.  It was a lovely day with three others, Luke, Charlotte and Amanda and it was really interesting for me to hear their stories too.  This was when I still had my jpouch before my latest surgery.

Take a look at the videos below, starting with my introduction.  I need to point out that on filming day, I was so ill with pouchitis, I ended up in hospital for IV antibiotics shortly afterwards so if I look a bit sweaty and manic, you can understand!

And here is Charlotte!


Have a look on the youtube channel for the other introductions.

First we talked about diagnosis…


And then we talked surgery… 7 out of 10 people with Crohns Disease and 3 out of 10 with Ulcerative Colitis will have some type of surgery in their lives.


People with IBD will tend to have an embarrassing story, this can be really isolating, but sharing your story can make you feel better.  We talked embarrassing experiences.


But we also have a LOT of positive experiences too…


Their are so many different accessories and products out there, it can be a bit confusing.  We talked about knowing about products and how to try new stuff.


I genuinely LOVE the Lift Plus 360 adhesive remover (I am not paid to say that!!!) it sprays at any angle and works really quickly.  Here Amanda demonstrates the product.


We finished by talking about something that is so important, support.


You can find out more about Opus on their website and view all their videos on their YouTube channel.


Sam x



Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Opus Healthcare.  Every now and again, I am sponsored by companies who I believe are of interest to my lovely readers, this allows me to continue with the blog and keeps me in pretty, sparkly shoes.  I only work with companies who I believe are a good fit with So Bad Ass and who have content or products that my audience have an interest in.

Weight Loss – Operation No Operations – Week 1

So after my news last week that I now have two hernias, I decided to try and lose some weight.  I am adamant that I do not want surgery until it is absolutely necessary and so I spoke to my doctor about the benefits of me losing weight and we agreed that it would really help with the hernias.  Thus begins Operation No Operations!

I looked at groups such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers and though I know that they are great for some people, I thought they weren’t for me for a couple of reasons.  One is that I don’t want to go to classes and two is that my medical history scares the bejesus out of most people and I wasn’t sure as to whether they would understand.  On a side note, if you are interested in Slimming World, take a look at the very lovely Wit Wit Woo and her 5 month weight loss journey.

I bought myself a fitbit that tracks my steps, heart rate, sleep and through the app, I can log my food and track my calories.  I aim for 1400 calories a day, but I don’t freak out if I go over and I am doing 10,000 steps a day.  I am finding that the fitbit and app are keeping me on track, on days where I am well under on my steps, I am forcing myself to get out and get my steps up.  It is a huge boost to my will power to have a watch that is gently reminding me to get moving.  I even filmed one of my dog walks when I had to force myself to get out even though it was raining!

I haven’t been hungry this week at all, I am making sure I eat three meals a day and just avoiding snacks, though last night the desire for a Feast ice cream was just too strong and so I had one and enjoyed every bite! I have been really shocked at how many calories are in things, it has made me realise why I am overweight.  170 calories in a gin and tonic, yo!!!

I am also looking at my portion sizes and weighing out my food, I realised that my average bowl of cereal is twice the recommended portion size! I am finding that I appreciate my food a lot more and I am enjoying eating.  I have always had a thing about clearing my plate and so often would carry on eating even after I felt full just because there was food still on my plate.  Smaller portions mean I eat well and then if I am still hungry, I can always go back for a little more.

The thing that is important to me is not denying myself anything that I really want.  I was so limited with what i could eat when I had my jpouch that now I hate to be told I can’t eat something.  I am very lucky with my current ileostomy that there is nothing so far that I can’t eat.  I just chew everything well and drink plenty.  Even though I am limiting calories, I have found it quite simple to still eat filling and delicious food.

So how has it gone? Well here’s the numbers.

Starting weight – 16th May 2016 – 13 stone 13 lb

Week one – 23rd May 2016 – 13 stone 8 lb

fitbit weight loss blog

I lost 5 lb this week!!! I can’t believe it! I have eaten well and never once felt hungry, an example of my diet this week…

Breakfast – Granola with 0% fat natural yoghurt and sliced mango, strawberry and pineapple

Lunch – Salami, parma ham, mozzarella, feta, humous and fresh bread

Dinner – Baked potato and sausage casserole

Snack – satsuma

I am drinking plenty, either water or no added sugar squash, tea and coffee.  I do like fizzy pop and I am trying to reduce the amount I am drinking, but it is sugar free. (I know, I know, it’s still bad!!)

I don’t feel strong enough to exercise yet, my hernias scare me and so I am walking a lot, I am aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day and also doing some work in the allotment.  I am trying to be active every hour, which is something the fitbit encourages.  I am wearing support garments from Vanilla Blush or just a pair of strong support ‘fat’ pants, you know, that underwear that is supposed to suck you in?

sam cleasby blogger allotment operation no operations

So there we go, that was week one of weight loss.  I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this, I am not an advocate of dieting and think women are pushed into weight loss all the time.  I am a size 16-18 and classed as overweight, my BMI was 28.7 which is on the verge of obese (which I find ridiculous as I do not think I am obese!)  Despite what society tells me, I love my body, I don’t mind that I am bigger than some, I genuinely feel happy in my own skin.

But this weight loss is for my health and so I feel I must go ahead with it.  I am so terrified at the thought of more surgery that I really want to do everything I possibly can to have positive affects on my health.  I don’t think we all need to be the same size and shape but I do think we all need to be responsible for our own health and for me, right now, this means dropping a few pounds and putting less strain on my stomach and hernias.


For anyone thinking of losing weight, especially those of us with IBD or other medical needs, do speak to a health professional first and make sure the changes you make are healthy and positive.


Sam xx


I am rubbish at sharing my feelings

You may read this title and laugh, after all this whole blog is filled with my feelings. I post a few times a week eloquently and whole heartedly sharing how I am feeling with the whole world.  If anything, I’m an over sharer! I tell you lot intimate and private parts of my life and chuck a few photos in to boot. 

So what am I talking about? Well, talking.  You see, as much as I can blurt out my inner demons on this page, and even when I do public speaking or media I am perfectly happy and able to speak out about all manner of feelings, emotions and experiences.  Yet, I find it ridiculously difficult to speak to the people I love. 

I told you all in my last blog post that I have two hernias and that I’m feeling terrible.  I’m scared, angry and really devastated.  This, of course, means that I’ve had real life friends and family reach out to me to help. To listen. To be there. 

Yet I just can’t open up. I gloss over, I make a joke, I change the subject.  If pushed, I will briefly say that I’m upset and unhappy but then I move on.  I just wonder why I’m like this when I can pour my heart out on this blog?  

I do speak to Timm. I am honest and allow him in.  We’ve talked all weekend about how I feel, how he feels, how he can help me.  He’s held me as I wept, listened to me rant and told me I’m a nobhead when I said that this wasn’t getting any easier and perhaps my life will now be filled with health complications so if he wanted to leave now, he could. 

I’ve got some wonderful friends and family, and it makes me sad that I struggle to reach out to them.  It’s not because of them, I love and trust them and know they want to help me.  I think there’s a big part of my personality that is a people pleaser, I want to make others happy and so I sometimes feel like I’m bringing others down if I tell them how I feel. 

I know this is cliched as hell but I think a big part of my issues go back to my father leaving and not giving a shit about me as a child.  I suppose I always worry that people will leave me, that I’m unlovable therefore I need to be as easy to be around as possible to make sure people stay. 

I do talk to friends, but I wish I could find it easier to open up and lay my feelings on the table. To ask for help and allow others to be there for me. It’s so important to talk to those closest to you, I say time and again in replies to messages I get, that we have to be open and let people in. Yet I’m probably not following that advice myself. 

And so I’m going to try and make an effort to speak out IRL (as the kids say… In Real Life for the oldies!) and not let the demons of my past affect my present and my future. 

Thank you for all the kind messages I’ve received in the past few days, you guys are awesome. 
Sam xx 

When the struggle feels never ending

I visited my consultant yesterday (yes, on a Saturday because despite the reports, we DO have an NHS on the weekend!) I’ve been having stomach pains, feeling very tired and more worrying, some weird swellings in my stomach.  I knew what he was going to say, but it didn’t make it any less devastating when he told me I have two hernias. 

Fuck. Two?! 

I have a parastomal hernia, which means it sits right behind my stoma and an incisional hernia in my belly button.  I can’t actually explain just how upset I am.  I know some people may think that a hernia is a minor thing, but it affects you every day and limits what you can and can’t do.  But worse than that for me, is that they can only be fixed through surgery.  I just feel my struggle is never fucking ending. 

Just saying the word ‘surgery’ makes me anxious, I feel hot, my palms sweat and my mouth goes dry.  I feel like crying and running away.  The word takes me back to a dark place of hospital wards, pain, suffering and sadness.  I feel panicky and sick. 

Mr Brown saw my face and asked me what I’d like to do, he said surgery is the treatment for this and I just shook my head. “No. I can’t.  I’m not ready in my body or my mind to face surgery again.”  He smiled and agreed, saying he thought I was right and that we should wait as long as possible to operate. 

I asked about alternate ways to help during this time, I already wear support underwear (see Vanilla Blush for support underwear that doesn’t look like your nan bought it) and I try to not over exert my tummy muscles.  I have spoken to my stoma nurse about getting some other hernia support designed for people with an ostomy. 

The other thing is my weight. There’s too much of it. 

I asked Mr Brown if losing weight would help and he said yes.  It will help with the pressure on my stomach and when I do face surgery it will be better for me to be a bit lighter.  I’m a size 16-18, my BMI is 28, I am classed as overweight and plus size. I genuinely like how I look, I don’t diet because I don’t feel that I need to be thinner.  Now I am being told that losing weight would be really beneficial to my health and so it is time to shed a few pounds. 

I know this will be hard, I’ve been overweight since I started having babies but if this will hold off the surgery then it something I must do. 

Regarding the tummy pains and aches, I was told that I’ve had a lot of surgery, there are a lot of internal scars and unfortunately, it is just part of healing. I’ve had a lot taken away inside so I suppose things are moving around and settling which causes pain.  Regarding the tiredness I had bloods taken to test my vit b12 so Ill wait and see what they say about that. 

I’m trying to be positive and look for the ways I can help myself. But really I want to hide in a duvet and cry. I’m absolutely devastated. Have I not been through enough? Does the struggle never end? After each of the 4 surgeries I’ve had in the past 3 years, I think it will be my last, I think that this is the one that makes everything ok, but it never does. 

There’s always something else around the corner and I’m so tired of being unwell and broken.  When does it all end? When will I be ok? 

I don’t know the answer to this question but I do know that I have no other choice but to plod on and keep going.  I’ll recite my Yorkshire mantra that “it’ll be reight” and keep smiling. 

Sam X 


#SeeMySelfie is a month long social experiment/photography project in which participants explore self representation, acceptance, audience and identity through the medium of self portrait. The project is a collaboration between Girl Gang Manchester and Girl Gang Sheffield, running nationally for the month of May, going on to be an exhibition and photography book later in the year.

I love the concept of Girl Gang and have done some work for the Sheffield group before by writing some poetry for their Tarot Cards.  (I have the most random and weird job and I love it!) So the guys from Manchester got in touch with me to talk to me about their latest project #SeeMySelfie and to ask if I would be involved.  I loved the concept and thought hells yeah!

“Are selfies a powerful space in which women can reclaim and celebrate their own image? Or symptomatic of the narcissism of 21st century culture? Do they allow women to publicly exude self confidence and explore their identity creatively? Or do they reinforcing the idea that a woman’s image is her most powerful asset?”

The month long social experiment exploring self portraiture, self representation and self-acceptance asks members of the public to join the group by taking a selfie every day of May using their prompts as a stimulus, from ‘Eyes closed’ to ‘worst angle’, you are encouraged to get creative and share your take.

Though we are half way through May, you can still get involved, it’s not too late.  Simply sign up for the daily emails at girlgangmanchester@gmail.com and you will receive a email every morning with the title of that day’s selfie as well as a photograph or link to a relevant article.

If you want to share your pictures either every day or occasionally, you are asked to upload them using the hashtags #SeeMySelfie and tag either @girlgangmcr @girlgangsheffield, include your thoughts/feeling about the picture or the process of taking it in the caption of the photograph. This can either be a few words, a whole essay or even a poem/song, whatever you fancy.

The project has been an interesting one so far, I thought it would be simple and a bit of fun but the daily provocations have actually been quite challenging and it has pushed me emotionally and mentally.  The idea of a selfie is a pretty self obsessed and egotistical thing, we share images of ourselves more now than ever before.  But this project shows that selfies can have a purpose, they can make you think, they can be social and they can do good.

The challenges so far have been:

Day 1 – Introduce Yourself

I’m Sam, 34, ever changing body, ostomy bag, writer, speaker, so bad ass… My surgeries have made me feel proud to be still standing, they remind me that I have one body and it is a miracle. My selfies show the world that I have no shame. I’m in my 30s, half Indian, northern, covered in scars, plus size and have an ostomy bag. I’m as far from the media ideal as you can get, but fuck that. I love my self(ies).

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 2 – Selfie with your eyes closed

Today we got our new chickens – it’s been a year since we had some and so it’s super exciting. I grew up as a city girl, but I’ve grown into a country woman. This beady eye is looking out for me.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 3 – Try something new

I thought I’d try a selfie of shadows and silhouettes…

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 4 – Look how you feel

I feel gobby. I speak out about things that people feel uncomfortable about. I was always told I was a loud mouth, I just decided to put it to good use.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 5 – A selfie just after the shower

For 6 weeks, my sister and her family from Australia has been staying with us. There’s 8 of us in the house meaning not enough hot water to go round… She goes home today and I’m devastated. I’d have all the cold water every day to get to hang out with my big sis. Today is going to be a tough one

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 6 – Take a selfie from your best angle

Ok, best as in most attractive? Then this probably isn’t it. But I took this photo at 7 this morning on a walk with my dogs and the husband. I love that it shows my terribly uncoordinated dress sense. But mainly I love that for the first time in ages I felt well enough to be up and out walking at 7am. Xx

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 7 – A selfie from your worst angle

I really dislike my many chins! I always try and pose in a way that hides them. I also hate photos of me looking sad, I tend to be all toothy grins or silly faces. I’m surprised at just how uncomfortable I am at sharing this photo.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 8 – A selfie in a place you wouldn’t normally take one

After such a grim start to the year, I wouldn’t have believed I’d be in a bikini, eating ice lollies and sunbathing in the garden of our own home in May… But here I am!

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 9 – Your most commonly used selfie pose/expression

I feel happy, confident and at ease in this photo.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 10 – The first selfie you take

I’m a bit hungover today, spent the morning working, this afternoon is house cleaning.  I don’t wear makeup or fancy clothes when I am in the house, and as I work from home I can most often be found in comfortable clothes without my hair or makeup done.  I love wearing nice clothes and getting glammed up but I just don’t feel the need to do it every day.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 11 – A selfie which shows your whole body

I don’t feel like taking a selfie today, I’m sick. I have a lingering chest and throat infection because my immune system is so fucked that I can’t shake bugs off. I also have a blockage in my stomach. I don’t have a large intestine so sometime food gets stuck in my small intestine and can’t come through my stoma – I’m tired and feeling sorry for myself. So you get a photo of my whole body, but not my face.

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

Day 12 – Take a selfie highlighting your best feature

I have a heart birth mark on the sole of my foot, and I was thinking it represents my best feature, my heart. I think and hope that I am kind, caring and full of love. I hope that when I’m no longer on this planet, that those who know me would say I was kind.

Kindness is totally underrated yet always necessary ❤️

see my selfie #seemyselfie girl gang manchester sheffield

You can follow the rest of my month of #SeeMySelfie on my instagram page, do search the hashtag though and see all the other people taking part.  I feel like I have ‘met’ some really interesting people in the past couple of weeks, just through viewing their selfies and I can’t wait to see what is still to come!

Get involved with #SeeMySelfie by emailing girlgangmanchester@gmail.com and to see what else Girl Gang are up to, head over to their website now.


Sam xx