When surgery became a possibility I did what we all do these days and googled it… THAT was a mistake (seriously don’t google stomas, you’ll give yourself nightmares!!)
Many images are medical, none are particularly flattering, most are terrifying.
Since having my subtotal colectomy and ileostomy I have realised that neither is anywhere near as frightening as I thought they would be. My bag is barely noticeable and my stoma is kind of cute to be honest!
I had two separate emails from women recently, one saying she had a stoma and an ileostomy a few years ago and didn’t leave the house for six months till she had the takedown surgery. And another from a woman due to have surgery who spoke of her fears of being ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting’. Both emails broke my heart. I feel so sad that this life saving operation has such a bad reputation when it comes to looks and self esteem.
I understand the feelings. When I first had my surgery I was to scared to look at my stoma. The thought of my intestines being on the outside horrified me and from the images I had seen online, I believed my femininity and any form of attractiveness would have been removed along with my diseased bowel.
Since then I have been googling A LOT – I wanted to find some powerful, beautiful images of women with ileostomy or colostomy bags and stomas to share on this blog. I struggled…. There are some model shoots for stoma products that I found cheesy. There are plenty of medical photos and quite a few selfies!
So I decided that as I live with a photographer and Im not really a wallflower that I may as well do a photo shoot to show off my bag and stoma and hopefully to create a series of photos that show femininity, sexuality, creativity and beauty.
I would LOVE your feedback as Im feeling quite nervous about putting these out there… I wanted to show others the true face of stomas and ileostomies. Im obviously not a model, Im a normal size 16 woman with wobbly bits and stretch marks.
I have a stoma and I wear an ileostomy bag but they are such a small part of what I am. I hope this can inspire others who have had or are due to have the surgery. Your body is awesome. This surgery saves lives and that little bit of intestine doesn’t change who you are – be proud, be confident and be amazing.
Love Sam xx
All photography is by the awesome Timm Cleasby of The Picture Foundry.