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Surviving and striving

Things have been tough for the past few years but specifically the past 3 months have been absolute shit.

I feel like I’ve been in a really dark time, between work, moving house, losing my grandfather, kids and my health, everything has been so overwhelming.  Yet I’m starting to have hope that I’m coming through the darkness and like my favourite quote, I am remembering to turn on the light.

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No matter how tough life is, you have to just keep getting up every morning, you have to just get through each day.  There’s no real option is there? Everything that’s been going on has been so difficult, my last surgery was massive and such a bloody hard thing to come through.  But I survived it.

And that got me thinking about surviving and striving.  Survival is our basic instinct to get through shit times, it’s our fighting spirit, our adrenaline filled desire to live another day.

Surviving isn’t living though and it’s not enough for me. I want to strive to do more, I want to fill my life with excitement, happiness, laughter and experiences.  And the thing that stops us from striving for what we want is fear.


I have notoriously itchy feet, I am forever searching for the next adventure, the next job, the next event, the next wonder.  That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate what I have! I relish in my wonderful family, my exquisite friends and I find joy in pretty much every day I live.

But I think throughout my life fear has held me back.  The lack of a father made me fearful of not being loved.  I have a huge fear of disappointing those who I love, and sometimes that stops me from being myself.

I have a fear that people will think I’m stupid because I didn’t go to college or university and that becomes a chip on my shoulder that is forever with me and stops me applying for jobs, it stops me speaking to people I think are smarter than myself.

I have a fear of heights that stops me from doing the exciting things my husband and kids want to do.  That teamed with my fear of vomiting in front of others means scary rides, roller coasters, sky diving, all these exciting daredevil things, are a complete no no!

But overcoming my surgeries, surviving 4 operations in 3 years, standing tall after years of health horrors and anxiety filled mind fucks have actually taught me something.  It’s taught me that I have faced and overcome things that would break some people.

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It’s taught me that I’m braver than I believe, stronger that I could imagine and a tough old badass.

It’s taught me that if I can deal with the shit hand I have been dealt, then I have no need to fear all the other stuff.  It’s made me want to strive.

So this year (after full recovery, don’t have a fit Timm!) I am going to, more than ever, be brave. I’m going to strive to do more things that scare me, to enjoy more, to try new things and to embrace every new experience that comes my way.

This isn’t about being a daredevil. But about me stepping out of my own shadow and enjoying life. Because I could have died. I could not be here right now and I need to celebrate that I am.

I’m going to fully immerse myself in my new allotment, I’m going to try some classes, go to more galleries, find events that are interesting and try them.  I’m going to say ‘no’ less and ‘yes’ more.  I’m going to read more, go out more, call friends more. I’m going to be a better mother, a more patient person.  I’m going to try and be the fullest version of myself that I can.  No regrets.

I’m not just going to survive. I’m going to strive.

 

Sam xx

Kintsukuroi – more beautiful for having been broken

It has been four weeks now since the big op and I am beginning to get used to life with my ileostomy, it has been a bigger change than I thought.  This is the second time that I have had a stoma, the first time was two years ago and then I went on to have a ‘reversal’ where I had a jpouch, when that failed, the decision was made for me to go back to have an ileostomy.

I really thought that as I have been through the shock of this surgery once already, that I would be better equipped to cope this time round.  And in many ways I have, the knowledge of how to change my bags and care for my skin have meant that I have been able to dedicate my time to recovering from the operation rather than learning the technical side of life with a stoma.  But it has still knocked my confidence.

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I think it is the knowledge that this stoma is permanent, it is a bag for life.  It was a necessary move but one that I wasn’t entirely happy with, and so I have had some negative feelings about my bag.  I have felt self conscious, embarrassed and upset.  I am trying to remember all the positive things to have a stoma, the health benefits, the lifestyle choices, but it is still a blow to be back with my bag and I have been struggling to come to terms with it.

Today I read about a Japanese art form called kintsukuroi, which means “to repair with gold”.  When a ceramic pot or bowl breaks or cracks, it is put back together again using gold or silver to create something stronger and more beautiful than it was before.

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It doesn’t hide or cover up the damage, it embraces the crack and acknowledges the history of the object whilst celebrating it’s imperfections and flaws.  It is the art of understanding that the object is stronger and more beautiful because it has been broken.

What a gorgeous sentiment!

It got me thinking about my stoma and reminded me that how we see things comes from our attitude.  I can choose to feel sad that my body is covered in scars, that it’s broken and damaged.  Or I can think of myself like Kintsukoroi, I have been repaired with something precious and I am stronger and more beautiful for it.

I think I’ll choose the latter.

Sam xx

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Fat is not sexy…

These are the words of Steve Miller, do you remember him? He did a show called Fat Families where he basically bullied people into exercise and eating salad by calling them “massive fatties” at every opportunity in order to motivate them to lose weight.

Well I unfortunately stumbled upon his twitter feed yesterday and unsurprisingly it is filled with fat shaming posts.  What does surprise me is how far he is willing to push his condemnation of overweight people.  His feed is filled with venomous statements labelling people “fat” “lazy” and stating that they aren’t curvy, just fat.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Here’s the charmer himself telling the world about the “reality” and “truth” that fat people are unattractive and aren’t able to be in a loving relationship.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Also fat people don’t have sex.  It’s the truth, it must be!!! This vile Alan Carr wannabe said so!!  All I can think is that he has been taking a leaf out of the Katie Hopkins school of fame and hopes that if he can be as offensive as possible then he will gain fame.  He extolls himself as ‘the Simon Cowell of the slimming world’ with his Mr Nasty character and believes that fat shaming helps to motivate people to lose weight.

What a dick.

I really want to post an intelligent and reasoned argument as to why this vile toad is wrong, but I only have expletives!  How very fucking dare he?  His ‘reality’ and ‘truth’ is bullshit.  He doesn’t get to judge others on their outward appearance and assume that his fucked up, warped view of the world is the truth.

“The reality is; most men don’t want an overweight lover so as soon as they begin to get heavier their partner begins to look elsewhere. After all, who wants a fat woman on top of them in the bedroom?”

What world is he living in? His assumption that all women want to be a size 6 and all men would baulk at the sight of a woman larger than a supermodel is fucking ridiculous.

You know what is sexy? Confidence.  There is nothing hotter than a person who glows with self love, who is happy, joyous and loving life.  You know that person who lights up a room when they enter, who is interesting and clever and witty and you are drawn to them.  And they may be a size 6 or a size 26, the outer shell doesn’t matter when you are in the presence of someone awesome.

You know what isn’t sexy? A person who tries to make money from shaming people into feeling bad about themselves, who name-calls and belittles others.  Somebody who takes their own hurt and pain and puts it onto others.

Worry not, because they amazing world of twitter has responded with vigour.  Awesome blogger and fat activist Daisy replied.

steve miller twitter fat shaming

Whilst I pissed myself at Fat Becky‘s response…

steve miller fat shaming

Yeah, yeah I know lowering ourselves to mocking his appearance isn’t the most adult thing to do, but sometimes, some people are so vile that they kind of deserve it…

There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, get fitter or change your lifestyle, but how many really believe that someone bullying them will help? No one should lose weight because someone else makes them feel bad about themselves, weight loss and getting fitter should be a personal choice and one that is emotionally healthy for them.

And that personal choice goes both ways, a friend told me recently that she had been dieting for years and had started a new regime, her husband sighed heavily and told her that he would rather her gain another 5 stone than him have to see her punish herself any longer.  Not everyone wants to be thin, nor does every partner care what size their loved one is.

After my surgeries I was a little shy in front of my husband, I wore long vests in the bedroom to hide my changed body, this became a habit that I eventually tired of.  I realised I wasn’t fooling him, he didn’t think I was a size 0 under my size 16 vest!!! And so I rid myself of the garments and shook what my momma gave me… The result? An honest conversation where he told me that when I covered up it made him worry that I didn’t trust him to love me, it also made him think I couldn’t be enjoying myself if I was thinking about my stomach.

This vile man, Steve Miller, would like you all to believe that if you are fat, no one will love you.  I call bullshit.  If the people around you only care about the number in the back of your dress then dump those fuckers NOW.  True friends, partners, lovers care about you as a whole package and your size and shape pales into insignificance when it comes to your self esteem, confidence, joy and character.

Sex and love are about respect, trust, fun and excitement.  These things come through self esteem and a great relationship not through salads and treadmills.

Fat is not sexy? What a load of shit!!!

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No make up, no photoshop, size 16 and in the words of the amazing Amy Schumer, I can catch a dick any time I want…

Steve Miller, go fuck yourself!

 

Sam x

My beautiful scars

I have a lot of scars, and with another surgery planned in the next few weeks, I will have a few more too…  I am not ashamed of them, they are the signs of my IBD journey, the battle scars of my fight of the last ten years.

My family is half Indian, and so unfortunately I have some issues with keloid scarring.  When you have damage to the skin, in healing itself the body produces more of a protein called collagen.  Collagen gathers around the damage and builds up to help the wound seal over in a scar.

However, some scars don’t stop growing. They “invade” the surrounding healthy skin and become bigger than the original wound. These are known as keloid scars. Keloids affect around 10-15% of all wounds and is more common in people with darker skin particularly African, African Caribbean and Indian people.  (This information comes from the NHS website, take a look for more info and if you are concerned, then go see your GP)

For some people, scars can be associated with poor self esteem and negative body image.  They can be an external sign of their internal struggles and people may feel embarrassed or ashamed of them.  I get this, occasionally I feel self conscious if I see people staring at my scars, this only happens at the swimming pool or beach as I am well past wearing crop tops!

But I have always found scars quite appealing, they suggest a story, something interesting that happened to that person.  My husband is covered in scars from years of skateboarding and snowboarding and we always say that chicks dig scars… Turns out dudes dig scars too!

I have done a few photo shoots before to show my stoma and ileostomy bag before, and so I thought I would have a few of my post j pouch body.

I have been through a lot in the past couple of years, a lot of difficult times, embarrassing and upsetting events, yet I am pleased to say that through it all, my scars are one thing that I haven’t struggled with.  I know they are large, and some would say unsightly, I know they are really visible and somewhat shocking.  But I had three kids before these surgeries and so I already had a lot of stretch marks and a caesarian scar.  Perhaps having these before made the transition to more noticeable scars easier for me to deal with?

After my first son, I went from a size 6 to a size 16… I gained a lot of weight and was COVERED in stretch marks.  I was embarrassed and upset by them, when a family friend told me that I should rejoice in those marks.  They were my tiger stripes, my war wounds, the sign that my body had created another human being!!! Those marks, she told me, were beautiful and something to be proud of.

These scars are a similar thing, they are the marks that show the struggle I have been through.  They remind me of my bravery, my fight, my winning.  They tell a story and they make me smile.

My scars are beautiful.

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All photographs are by Timm Cleasby from the Picture Foundry and cannot be used without permission.  Take a look at The Picture Foundry website, it is the photography company I run with my husband.

 

Sam xx

Scars – How I overcame my insecurities by going naked

Hellooooo it is good to be back! Timm and I have been on our second honeymoon, a week in Lanzarote and we had a blummin’ brilliant time!

The weather was amazing and so I had to deal with the insecurities of going on the beach and having my scars on display.  Now if you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am not a wallflower when it comes to showing off my scars and ostomy from all the photo shoots I have done.

But I do these for a reason, I want to raise awareness of IBD and lessen the stigma of having an ostomy or lots of scars from surgeries.  Being photographed by talented husband Timm and then editing the images and sharing online reduces the panic in showing the world my entirely imperfect body as it is not a face to face interaction.

And so I do still have insecurities about my body and the scars that criss cross my stomach, that might be hard to believe as I promote loving your body and having self confidence.  But I am only human, the reason I can talk about having body confidence and coping strategies to deal with having your ostomy or scars on show is because I have all those fears, I just work hard to overcome them in the hope that I can help others with the same worries.

silhouette of a couple dancing

For my first jaunt out on the sands I wore a bikini on the family beach, my scars that reach from my sternum right down into my groin, plus two more scars on either side of my abdomen, were all on show.  I saw the odd glance that turned into a double take, one nudge and whisper and quite a few children have a good old gawk.  None of those looks were offensive in their nature, there was no malice, just curiosity.  That is natural but it did make me feel like I was on display, I felt watched and a little uncomfortable, perhaps some of this was in my head, but it was still how I felt.

Our next beach trip was a little different, we went to a naturist beach… It is one of those things that was on my bucket list, something I wanted to try before I died.  I had been to one once before but there was no one else on the beach and so this time, going on to a busy nudist beach was a challenge.  I was really nervous, Timm and I went to a corner and slipped off our clothes and laid down quickly, giggling like kids.  We put on our sunglasses and had a look around to see lots of nude people, some sunbathing, some sat chatting, some walking or swimming.

It was odd at first, I felt extremely self conscious, but after a while I realised there was such a nice atmosphere, no one was staring at one another, I felt no judgment, totally comfortable and really relaxed.

stone heart shape on beach

The beach was filled with men and women of all shapes and sizes and though you got the odd glance and smile, everyone kept to themselves and there was no judgement.  A totally different feeling to being on a normal beach.  Perhaps it is the fact that without clothes, we are all a little vulnerable.  Or perhaps it is that being nude is a great leveller.  Either way we loved the day and for the first time I felt great in my own skin and didn’t worry about the sight of my scars.  Isn’t that a weird thing, I felt more comfortable with no clothes on, than with a swimsuit or bikini.

As a woman who is a size 14-16 with lumps, bumps and jiggly bits, a naturist beach wouldn’t usually be somewhere I would think of as relaxing, but it really was.  My size wasn’t even a thought and my scars were soon forgotten about, the most attention I got was for my tattoos!

I wouldn’t call myself a naturist now, I don’t feel the need to be naked all the time and nor would I go out of my way to find naturist beaches, but I can say that a good chunk of the good feeling on our holiday came from our visits to the nudist beaches and I’m really happy to say that the experience has helped me on my way to accepting and loving my scars.

nude beach stone balancing so bad ass sam cleasby

So what do you think? Is it something you have done or something you would try?

Let me know in the comments below.

Love Sam xx

To make up or not to make up

I sometimes find make up an odd thing, it’s the social expectation that women will wear make up that I find a little weird. Men have no such pressure to daily paint their faces yet for many women, they wouldn’t leave the house without wearing at least some sort of cosmetics.

I don’t wear make up day to day but I wouldn’t go for an evening out with a bare face. And having no idea why got me thinking. The feminist part of me feels like it’s totally unnecessary, that wearing lipstick that is supposed to make my mouth look more enticing is ridiculous, or putting on fake eyelashes that supposedly make my eyes wider and more attractive is a joke.

But the reality is that I don’t wear make up FOR other people. I wear make up partly as a security blanket, a safety net of habit. My mother wears little make up but my earliest memories are of her dressing table filled with these lotions, potions and paints that seemed to hold the mysteries of being a woman.

I also feel that on a night out I want to transform myself from daytime work Sam and mum to party loving Sam. It’s the reason I wear different clothes on a night out than to what Id wear for work or home. That transformation makes me feel more confident.

I hadn’t really thought too much about the reasons why I wear make up before. I suppose I just thought it made me look better. But on Saturday night after an evening out I was taking my slap off, and for some reason just removed half.

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I was really surprised by the results, I found I was no happier with my made up face than my natural face and it got me thinking about why I wear it and if it matters.

Like many women, I have a make up bag filled with foundation, powder, mascara and all manner of powders and pastes. But why? It is for me but I suppose it’s also about wanting to project a certain image out into the world. Does that sound shallow? In writing this I feel I may sound vain, that I should be entirely happy with my looks and not feel the need to wear a mask. But isn’t most of our image some sort of mask?

Makeup can be a form of self-expression and a way to show your personality and character. And if it makes you feel better then what is the problem? The sexist assumption that women only wear make up for male attention is unhelpful. As is the idea that without makeup we feel unattractive. The reality is that through make up, clothes and hair I want to express myself in a way that shows who I am and then have others see that form of self-expression.

Shallow or not our image is the outward, immediate way we tell people who we are. It’s said you judge a person when you meet them within 10 seconds, that first impression means so much. And perhaps that is why I don’t feel the need to wear any make up and wear joggers and a vest in the house because the people I see already know and love me, they don’t judge me on my external appearance. Whereas out of the house in a work or social environment I know I will be meeting people and want to put across a certain image.

Whether that is in a meeting where I want to show my professionalism, personality and that I’m a mother f**king adult. Or at a party where I want my fun, giddy and party side to come out. It’s all a mask, a costume, an external show of my internal personality.

So to make up or not to make up? Tell me what you think!

Love Sam xx

Young women, you are beautiful

Young women, teenage girls, tweens, can I just take moment to tell you how beautiful you are?

Yes you, I’m talking to you, the one who says you don’t like your nose, or that your thighs are too big, your tummy too round or you have spots on your face.

You who thinks you aren’t good enough because you don’t look like the girls on tv.

You who look like the girls on tv but still deep inside feel a sadness that you aren’t enough.

All of you, this is for you.

You are beautiful and amazing young women. Society may tell you different but please remember that the only point of advertising is to make you feel that you aren’t good enough. For how on earth would they sell their latest product if you thought you were wonderful?

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Not enough people will say this to you in your life because it’s not the done thing. But ladies, you are awesome. What a wonderful, unique and fantastic human being you are! To quote a certain Dr Seuss, “Ohhh the places you’ll go”

I want you to take a moment and look in the mirror. Look past what size your waist is, or whether you have blemishes on your skin, look past the style of your hair and your choice of clothes and say “I am amazing”

It feels wrong in some way doesn’t it? So immodest and not the done thing. But you know, your life will be easier if you can learn to love who you are. To accept your shape and face because baby, it’s what is inside that matters and goodness, kindness, loyalty, weirdness, love, joy and confidence shine through whatever you look like.

The most beautiful person in a room is one who is confident and happy. It’s not about being the centre of attention, more about a calm and happy acceptance of who you are.

teaching teenage girls self esteem and body confidence

So keep trying, shake off the cringe and take a long hard look at yourself and tell yourself your good points. Now don’t say you don’t have any… Yes, I can read your mind! Ok, Ill go first…

I like my legs, they are shapely and long. I adore the love heart shaped birth mark on the sole of my foot. I think I have sparkly, happy eyes. I am a great mum, an honest and loyal friend and an awesome wife. I’m a good writer and I work hard to spread a little bit of cheer in the world.

Does that all sound big headed? Well tough! I give myself positive reinforcement and think about the things I like about myself. Because though I have parts of my body I’m not wild about and parts of my character that could definitely be improved upon, what good will it do me to be always thinking about my bad points? Looking for the positive puts me in a better mood and makes me feel more positive.

teenage girls self esteem body image love yourself

 

Ladies you are growing up in an age where the pressure to look a certain way has never been higher. I feel for you as you are worrying about your looks at a younger and younger age and it scares me. Please listen to my little voice, I know I am but a whisper against the fashion and beauty industries that pump billions into making you feel like shit, but my voice is honest and true.

Young women, you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.

Love Sam x

 

All photography courtesy of the wonderfully talented Timm Cleasby of The Picture Foundry

Loving your baby body

This is a post I did for Motherhood Journeys about self esteem and loving your baby body.

I started So Bad Ass last June and began blogging about my experiences, suddenly a lot of people were reading about my journey and the messages I started to receive weren’t just from people with the same problems as me, they were from teenage girls with anorexia, grandmothers who had cancer, mothers who felt they had lost themselves, people going through divorces… All had the same problem at the root and it came down to self-esteem.

And so more and more, I write about positivity, body confidence, happiness and image. And that leads me to my post today.

Before I had children I was a size 8, roll forward nine months and I was a size 16. It was a blow for me and I suddenly felt lost, I felt that the person I was had disappeared under layers of fat and milk filled breasts. I know I had grown and housed a human being for 40 weeks but I was shocked at how my body now looked.

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Another two children followed in the next four years and I never lost the weight I had gained. It made me feel guilty; I saw images of celebrity mothers who ‘snapped’ right back into shape and the fat shaming of those who didn’t. I was a happy mother, I loved being pregnant, I loved being a mother but I felt a tinge of sadness when I saw photographs of me before, almost a grief or bereavement of the person I once was.

 

My youngest is now 9. I still haven’t regained my pre baby body, and you know what? I couldn’t care less! You see when I had surgery last year, they cut me from just under my chest bone down to my pelvis, they removed my large bowel and made a hole for a small piece of my small intestine to poke out of, then the sewed and stapled me back together. I came out of the surgery feeling horrified at the state of my body. It felt mutilated and ruined.

During the last six months of cathartic writing on my blog I have learnt not only to accept my body, but to rejoice in it. My body is AMAZING. It keeps going despite illness and surgery. It looks after me and it is SO bad ass…

It got me thinking about my post baby body and how I wish I had thought more of my body then. I grew three human beings. My body made a home for them; my blood pumped through them and nourished them. My womb filled with fluids to keep them safe. My vagina pushed them into this world. My breasts fed them.  How dare I have hated my body??

As women, we give ourselves such a hard time; we rarely congratulate ourselves or make positive comments about our own appearance. Why is that? Are we so brain washed that we really believe that only size 0 women with rock hard abs and pert breasts are beautiful?

This is in no way against slim women, it is about celebrating and loving our bodies whatever our size or shape.

Last year I photographed Corinne with baby Arthur and was over the moon when she asked me to take a few images of her post natal body. She looked beautiful. I was able to look at her in a detached way, thinking from a photographer’s point of view. I saw her full breasts that became the perfect pillow for her baby’s head, the softness of her waist and gentle lines of the stretch marks were lit beautifully. The width of her hips made me think of the journey her newborn baby had taken from her womb.

new mother body image love your baby body

At first she was a little self conscious, but after relaxing, she stopped thinking about her body and the look of pure love in her eyes as she watched Arthur was stunning.

We need to stop using such negative language about our bodies and start rejoicing. How many times have you said to yourself “I’m so fat” “My belly is disgusting” “My stretch marks are GROSS!”

That is not ok.

You wouldn’t hear someone say that to your best friend, so why is it ok to say it to yourself?

We are all different shapes and sizes, not one of us is perfect, we are all deliciously imperfect.

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If you are a mum reading this who berates your body I want you to just remember the magic that your body performs. You made a human being. You are a goddess… you brought life into this world. That takes a lot of doing, so don’t be down on your poor tummy, that sag is because it made way for those awesome little beings you call children. Don’t be sad when your breasts sit a little lower, all that milk making can take its toll.

Be kind to your body, it’s the only one you get.

 

Get a summer body (and other such crap)

Wait, what the fuck is a summer body? Is it better than an Autumn body?

That big glowing ball of light and warmth is warming up the air temperature slightly and so it is time for every magazine and website to start telling us to get ‘beach ready’, get a ‘bikini body’ and starve, scrub, wax and our disgusting Spring bodies to achieve the almighty SUMMER BODY!

Do you know the best way to get a bikini body? It is to put a bikini upon your body… And whether that body is fat or slim, muscly or bony, whether you have scars, stretch marks, a stoma, big boobs, little boobs, no boobs, a big bum, a flat bum, thighs that are tiny or thighs that have some meat on them… Your bikini body will always be better if you feel happy and confident.

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Choose swimwear that makes you feel comfortable and happy.  If that is a thong and nothing else, then hooray! And if it it a vest and shorts then bloody well go for it.

How hard do you have to work to afford a holiday? That one or two weeks should be about relaxing, having fun and enjoying yourself.  With all the pressures we have in day to day life, why the fuck should we be spending time, money and emotional stress on dieting, exercising, exfoliating, waxing, shaving, buffing and primping? Go on your holiday and enjoy it!

There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight or to get fit.  But do it because you want to be healthier or fitter, or because you would feel better dropping a few pounds.  Don’t do it because the multi billion pound beauty industry use a season of the year to sell extra products by making you feel bad about yourself!

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The phrase “are you beach ready?” is being used regularly at the moment, and by that they mean have you poured hot wax onto your skin and then torn the hair from your body, or have you used a sharp blade to scrape every inch of hair from your legs, fanny and armpits… Newsflash! Human bodies are covered in hair! Choosing not to remove it has no relevance to whether you are ready to go on a beach.

Can you imagine a world where it was socially unacceptable for a man to be in public with hair on his legs, armpits or genitals?  No, me neither.  Yet society tells women that it is abhorrent to have hair anywhere but on our heads! If you choose to remove your hair then that is up to you, but if you choose not to then you are open to ridicule and insults.  Remember when Julia Roberts showed her armpit hair and the photos went around the world.  How bloody bizarre!!! Imagine the same thing with a fella? Nope, just wouldn’t happen.

julia roberts armpit hair                           brad pitt naked

 

Not ok…                                                                                                             Ok…

 

I came across a particularly vile theme whilst researching this post called #bikinibridge – the aim being to be so thin that your bikini bottoms bridge across your hip bones… Wow! Now some women are naturally thin and this is nothing against them, but to be aiming to lose so much weight that your stomach sits concave to your hips is both unhealthy and terrifying.

bikini bridge

How bloody sad that women will waste their time worrying about how much of a gap their is between their hips and stomach? Man, go learn a language or attend a lecture, go spend time with your friends or read a book.  Ladies, don’t waste your time worrying about making your body look like an underweight child.

Im a size 16 with pubic hair, scars, stretch marks and imperfections.  Do I look like a supermodel on the beach? Hell no! But I tell you, I am grateful for this body, this body that holds me up and keep going despite disease, surgery and missing organs.  This amazing human body is so strong and adaptable, it is a wonder.  So when I go on the beach this year I will be celebrating what a lucky woman I am to be alive and well.  I guarantee I won’t be worrying whether it is ‘beach ready’ or the ‘perfect summer body’.

 

bikini body so bad ass

It is my body and I am proud! The next time I am in a bikini, I will be having fun and worrying not about whether other people can see my scars, whether other people don’t like the shape of my stomach or the wobble of my ass.

Don’t get sucked in by this annual tripe, it is simply a lazy, easy way to sell magazines and products.  If you are lucky enough to be going on your hols this year, then invest your time and money into something worthwhile.  You are so much more than the size of your thighs or the hairiness of your fanny… The fact that you are well enough to travel, that you have enough spare money to be going on holiday mean you are in a better position than millions of people.  Relish in that and go have fun in your beautiful spring/summer/autumn/winter body.

 

Sam xxx

 

Are you ever embarrassed to talk about your illness?

This is the question my daughter just asked me. My answer was yes. Sometimes.

But I talk about it anyway to stop the embarrassment for other people. The more we talk about ulcerative colitis, crohns, stomas, pouches and just poo in general, the less it will be a taboo or something to be embarrassed about.

People don’t like discussing matters of the arse do they? And this is the reason that people will suffer needlessly in silence when they begin with symptoms of the bum variety.

keep calm and talk shit ulcerative colitis and ibd

I understand those feelings but want to fight against them. Sometimes a mum at the school gate will say she’s read my blog. My mind works furiously thinking about what I’ve written about the past few days! And then I smile and thank them, for every person who reads may just have learnt something. Maybe I changed their thinking about something? Maybe I have taught them a way to have a discussion with someone else who has a chronic illness. Or maybe I just made them laugh.

Whatever their thoughts I am grateful that my website has delivered a message to so many people. It means so much to know I’ve had over 40,000 views in the last few months.  I get emails from all over the world from people telling me I helped them.

And so when the embarrassment begins to creep hotly onto my chest and face, I think about the people I have helped and that embarrassment becomes pride.

talk about poop ulcerative colitis ibd stoma pouch

This blog, my writing and public appearances, the photographs and the hours I put into developing programmes to help kids with body confidence and self esteem, all of that stuff gives my illness a purpose. And that makes things a little easier when I’m ill, exhausted, taking meds, having surgery or recovering.

I hope if nothing else I am teaching my kids to never be ashamed of their bodies. To embrace all parts of themselves and to be proud of themselves no matter what journey their bodies take them on.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share this and join me in the fight to stop poo being taboo.

Love Sam