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Worst Selfies Ever

No, I’m not talking about that terrible shot of you from an awful angle on your work night out, or that one where you think you look amazing and then when you look back you have a bogey…

After 12 years of IBD, more colonoscopies than I can count, several shitting accidents in public and going on national TV to discuss poo, I thought I had faced all my most embarrassing moments.  I have shared the majority of these cringe inducing events with you lot, earning me the moniker The Poo Lady!

Yet today, I have sunk to an all time low.

I am working away in Wales and struggling with this prolapse, only it has got worse and now I think I have a pouch prolapse too.  My consultant asked me to send a photo.  No, he doesn’t want one of my lovely press shots, or that hilarious photos of me dressed as the Crack Fox when I went to see the Mighty Boosh.  Nope, he wanted a photo of my damaged arse and vag.

This morning was the worst photo shoot of my life… There was no way I could ask my photographer husband to get involved in this, he’d get all arty and be thinking about composition and lighting and so I have taken selfies of my butt.  I’m sure I have warned my kids about this!!!

Worry not, I’m not planning to share them here! These are for Mr Brown’s eyes only! (Poor man!)

I know it sounds odd, but he is fab and this way he can get an idea of what’s going on without delaying treatment, it takes a while to get an appointment with him and so it is a good way for him to ‘see me’ without ‘seeing me’.

Just when I think my days can’t get any weirder, this happens…

 

Love Sam x

Sexualising disability or normalising life with an illness?

As my photographs of an old photo shoot with my stoma have gone viral last week, I have been subject to a few comments about sexualising disability (and some just telling me that ostomies are gross and I should put it away, but that is a WHOLE other story!!!) and I wonder am I guilty of that?

The short answer is fuck yeah! And you know why?  Because my sexuality, my femininity and the person I am didn’t get removed along with my colon.  The long answer is about how disability is seen in our society and also how women are viewed in society.

In 2013 when I had my colectomy and an ileostomy formed, I did what we all do in times of uncertainty and I googled it.  What I found were some great charities such as Crohns and Colitis UK and I A Support, but what I wanted was a personal story, something that I could relate to.

Looking at images was even worse, there were either terrifying images of stomas that were infected or prolapsed or photographs of smiling old ladies… Nothing that I saw helped me, it frightened me, upset me and made me feel that life as I knew it was over.

And that is why a month or so after my surgery, I made the decision to have some photographs taken.  It helped that I lived with a super talented photographer! I wanted some images that represented ME.  The person I was before and the person I wanted to find under my scars, dressings and emotional pain.  I knew I was under there somewhere, and the camera helped me find myself again.

When I saw the photos I was so overwhelmed.  I saw some great images of me.  And then my ostomy.  It made me realise that I was still me, that my stoma was such a small part of me and all the other characteristics were still there.  It empowered me to speak out more, to share my photos and share my story.  And to this day, I tell you now, I am DAMN proud of every one.

ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

People like to say that I did this for Facebook likes, for twitter followers or to boost my blog stats.  And I suppose they are right.  I share all my images because I want to reach as many people as I can who are feeling lost in their illness, who feel that the world has forgotten who they are and only sees their disability, to the people who want to know that life goes on after ostomy surgery.  I want to help as many people as I can and if sharing my images does that then bloody go me!

I would also like to point out that there are HUNDREDS of photos on this site and only a handful are what anyone could consider ‘sexualised’.  I wouldn’t say I sexualise my disability, I would say I normalise it.  I show photographs from every part of my life, there are photos of me playing with the chickens, hanging out with my kids, with my husband, my mum, in gym gear, at the beach… I show all parts of my life because my illness and my disability do not change all those parts of me.

I know that my audience feel that I help raise the profile of the diseases, that I support many and that I inspire others to speak out and to be brave.  I know this because they tell me so and I have to laugh at those who think this is simply an ego trip or a numbers boost!!

stoma ileostomy femininity black and white photography creative shoot

I don’t prescribe getting your hoo-hoos out to anyone, I do not suggest that taking your clothes off for a photograph is for everyone, in the same way that body building, dancing or wearing a bikini isn’t for everyone.  What I do talk about it self love.  I talk about body confidence and in taking positive steps to you living a happy, fulfilled life.  The path to this is different for everyone, for me as a photographer and a photographer’s wife it was through imagery.  I would have done EXACTLY the same shoots beforehand.

If I choose to show my sexuality alongside my disability and you don’t like this, then I suggest you click away, go look at a different site, or even better go read a book, talk to someone or make someone happy!  If my sexuality makes you feel uncomfortable, then please step away. It’s fine, honest!

But don’t slut shame me.  Don’t belittle my plight to make a difference in the world by judging me on the images that show my undercrackers.  It is so easy to use a woman’s body against them, to suggest that any showing of flesh is in some way a dart in the heart of feminists everywhere, to imagine that my professionalism is affected in any way by an image that shows my stoma.

I am a feminist in that I believe in equality for men and women, it is odd isn’t it that when we see the semi-naked photographs of men that there is no backlash, no one suggesting they are belittling the campaign by showing their bodies, yet when women do it, we are subjected to judgment and mocking.

sam cleasby stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

The facts are that I am a woman.  I have a stoma.  And I live in a country where I have free speech and the freedom to show images of myself.

The facts are that I make a difference.  I help many people and I do it in my own way.

The facts are that I am so bad ass and I will carry on raising awareness, supporting people and kicking ass!

 

Love Sam x