One of the most common issues we help people overcome, before and after surgery, is that of a changed body image. Stoma surgery can result in abdominal scarring and means wearing a bag, not exactly attractive right? Well, our Underwear & Swimwear show proves otherwise.
This is only the second time we have produced this event. The first Underwear & Swimwear Show was at Café de Paris in London’s Piccadilly and was an immediate internet hit with over 20,000 people watching the show online and the film being used to inspire patients all over the world.
This year the format remained the same, but was bigger and bolder with 14 models from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences stepping out in front of the cameras, and the crowds, in a variety of attractive and sporty outfits. Once again the show included garments from many high street stores and boutique designers, as well as some created especially for people with an ostomy.
Our aim for the event is to raise the profile of ostomy surgery in a positive way, to help tackle the fear and stigma before the operation, stopping it take root and impairing patients’ quality of life before they even have the surgery.
When someone finds out they are going to have stoma surgery the first place most people turn to is the internet, which can be the worst introduction to the subject for a patient, with images of very ill, emaciated patients covered in staples and surgical wounds, and usually a clear post-operative stoma bag with its contents in full view. Add to this the myriad of forums and websites which may be cathartic for the authors but often very scary to vulnerable patients awaiting surgery.
Our show, and the associated media campaign and Facebook traffic, provides much more positive images and personal stories from people whose voices wouldn’t normally be heard.
Deborah volunteered to model in the show to help people overcome their fears and have surgery before it is too late: “I lost out on three years of my life with ulcerative colitis. If I had known the quality of life that I would have gained by having a stoma I wouldn’t have wasted any time”
Hayley-Jade had her colostomy after her bowel perforated during a caesarean section 3 years ago: “I had never even heard of a colostomy before. I came home from hospital on Christmas Eve so between that and the fact that I had a new born baby son, with cerebral palsy, the stoma had to fit in around me, after all this is my ‘new normal’ so I just decided to get on with it.
My body image has definitely changed since having a stoma. In some ways I’m less confident as my tummy area is covered in scars from the operations which I don’t like, but in other ways I’m more confident, I now have a greater appreciation for bits of my body that I never used to like. My partner says that he doesn’t even notice the bag anymore and I’m happy to go on the beach wearing a bikini now, which I wouldn’t have done before!
Being involved in the show is my way of saying to the world – ‘I’m happy with who I am’ and it’s a great opportunity to explain more about my colostomy to my friends as I think they’ve all been a bit scared to ask before!”
Rosemary has modelled in both our shows and is becoming something of an ambassador for the message it sends: “Being part of the show changed my life, and it can change other people’s, whatever their experiences.”
Ostomy Lifestyle’s support services are here to help ensure people affected by stoma surgery are able to lead a full and active life by providing them with knowledge and inspiration. Our models are living proof that beauty comes in many forms and a positive attitude is the most beautiful feature of all.
Video interviews with all of the models are on the Ostomy Lifestyle website, and photos and films of the event itself are going live this winter.