When it came to Bethany Townsend, 23, from Worcester, the world, or at least the world of Facebook, overwhelmingly agreed. Bethany is physically striking. And sexy. Ostomy and all. Townsend posted her pic on the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page. Her image was viewed by more than nine million people and has received 190,000 likes. That number just keeps growing.
Definite conversation starter.
Cheers to the power of a well posed selfie.
But along with the messages of support, ‘Hey, my mom/dad/brother went through that.’ and the ‘You’re so brave.’ There is also a sense of surprise. Like people are just now noticing IBD, and especially Ostomates at all. But more specifically they’re seeing us in a good light. As if the negative stereotype of Ostomates in their mind just got challenged. In a good way. Don’t get me wrong, that’s terrific, but hardly new news to the rest of us.
In the being brave, strong, lovely and even sexy category, Bethany isn’t alone. Not by a long shot. There are scores of beautiful Ostomates out there. So much so that Awestomy had its own #right2remainsexy campaign in July and August of 2013, giving all Ostomates the open door to proudly bask in their sexiness while encouraging others to do the same. Empowering, validating confirmation of our continued ability to be seen as beautiful and desirable in a way many would automatically think of as ‘no longer an option’.
Vanilla Blush is another company promoting self esteem and Ostomate loveliness for all. It’s absolute perfection that Nicola Dames uses real Ostomates as models. Not one person can dispute that those who pose for Blush are highly qualified for their positions.
And that’s what’s beautiful. Each person that posted to Awestomy or poses for Vanilla Blush are regular people like you and I.
You know what’s really sexy?
(Because sexy isn’t just the skin deep attributes that look good in magazines or there wouldn’t be a big push to put ‘real’ people in ads.)
It’s being okay in your own skin. It’s confidence and openness to life. It’s loving yourself exactly for who you are. It’s being intelligent, educated about your disease and having the poise to represent that truthfully to the world. It’s a kind of charisma that’s earned.
Just look around our IBD community. There are legions of intelligent, beautiful, clever, inspiring Ostomates, J-Pouchers and IBDers out there. It could be that special someone who inspires you, who encourages you, who makes you smile or laugh. Someone who makes you feel like you’re not the only one. That person who’s been through exactly what you have, and come out the other side. That person open enough to share in a way that shows you hope that maybe you can try again and get there too.
I made a little list of just a few of the people who inspire me. I admire their dedication to the IBD community and their willingness to share their journeys with us. These people are beautiful to me.
Jason of Awestomy
Sara Ringer of Inflamed and Untamed
Maggie Baldwin of Let’s talk IBD
Sam Cleasby of So Bad Ass
Jess Grossman of Uncover Ostomy
Dan Sharp of The Great Bowel Movement
Christy of Ostomy on the Track
Paul Riome of Living Bigger with Colostomy
Frank Garufi Jr of The Crohn’s Colitis Effect
Marisa Lauren Troy of Keeping Things Inside Is Bad For My Health
And of course the list goes on… I could easily continue. Suffice it to say, these people are inspiring, beautiful and lovely to me.
So, great job Bethany for the selfie seen ’round the world. People are talking, cheering you on and hopefully viewing Ostomates and the IBD community as a whole in a more beautiful light.
Now if only we can segue all that instant recognition into education. That would be the most beautiful of all.