Body Confidence With a Stoma
With the majority of us being in lockdown due to Coronavirus since March the current laughs and jokes about weight gain, not being bikini or summer-ready has started to float around due to the numerous lockdown groups that have popped up.
Some of us have used this as a positive and have been spending the time to evaluate ones previously sedentary hectic work life. I for one have been chowing down on endless baking product and family-sized Galaxy chocolate bars; I kid you not, I think in the space of 10 days I ate 7 of the blighters, not to mention the 1 kg bags of pick and mix sourced through my Amazon account.
I have been flaring due to a relapse with my Crohn’s, also not taking a solid week or so off for 18 months kind of knocked me flat on my bottom.
The last 6 weeks I have started watching my intake and trying my best to make healthy choices, the reason to that one is I still have a wedding dress to fit into and several rather expensive bikinis purchased for my honeymoon which was meant to be in August.
Body Image is one thing that I think both the ladies and gentlemen suffer from. In this age where you have filters, face tuning, lack of three-dimensional photo’s and the faultless gits of love island then we all take a step back and take stock of our current flaws as we see them or how they are perceived by others.
Instagram for celebrities are full of photoshopped and filtered photos, they get paid by the thousands to promote and flog the latest gimmick or fad diet supplement. We know in our heads that no one can be that faultless, but our hearts and perceived social standards tell us differently.
Stretch marks, cellulite or even the smallest skin flaw gets edited out, we however due to lack of funds do not have that same luxury.
My daughter said to me the other day about the Kardashians, I sat her down and said if we all had that kind of plastic surgery and the funds to back it up then it’s fair game, however, I told her it’s an unrealistic goal and that in general healthy eating and exercise is the way to go. I explained that they may look perfect but her brains and personality will get her further in life. Looks occasionally help but considering she wants to be a barrister then her current argumentative statements are what will serve her well (nothing quite like a hormonal soon to be 11 years old on week 10,000 during lockdown).
Due to my advocate and raising awareness accounts, I see the different side to Instagram, that being that most of us post realistic expectations of what we look like along with the flaws or scars with better meaning. Posting up photos in either swimwear or a bra and jeans. There is no editing out my stretch marks because I am absolutely covered, not to mention my stoma and some rather epic scars.
Body image for me over the years has gone from one extreme to another. From 2003 – 2009 I was relatively healthy with my weight. Crohn’s disease, however, caused me some issues, That being that weight fluctuation due to years on and off of steroids had caused some stretch marks to appear, add in an enterocutaneous fistula then my abdomen was rarely on show.
Crohn’s disease has an impact on your mental health as well as your physical appearance. At one point in my life, I had clothing from a size 6 to a size 14 as my weight used to yo-yo.
Everything that happened after having my daughter lowered my perceived body image even more. Getting asked if you’re pregnant due to an incisional hernia knocks your confidence I can tell you. Add in the lack of confidence-boosting from my then partner exacerbated matters.
A well thought out outfit and a face of makeup can only aid you so far. If you’re lacking in confidence and feel uncomfortable it is going to show.
Body confidence for me is something that has come with growth and age. I wear things at the age of 34 that at 24 I would have had a minor heart attack even just thinking about it.
As you get older I think you care a little less. With age comes wisdom. Also with age and working comes a better bank balance to be able to purchase things that are good at covering the bits you don’t like.
People are always commenting on my account posts when I do the motivational posts about a stoma not defining your body image or denting one’s confidence. They say you always do these posts, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Had this been me 4 years ago I would have laughed. It has taken me nearly 11 years to gain control of my body and project the person you see in front of you. It’s also taken nearly three years on and off the diet wagon along with exercise to get to where I am now. I always try to portray myself in the correct unfiltered way.
My confidence has grown due to having a supportive partner. I’m not saying I need a man to help with that or define me but his support and encouragement have carried me through.
Body confidence is something I have had to fake, prior to my stoma surgery I last braved a bikini at the age of 21 and that was only because I forgot to take swimwear on holiday and my mum got a bright orange 2 piece. At the time I had a fistula and there was no hiding it as it was through my belly button.
Body confidence now depends on the day, I have the good, the bad and the ugly. It has taken a while to come to terms with my stoma. Wearing a 2 piece on holiday makes me neurotic, I worry people are staring at me. A bit of dutch courage and I forgot about what other people may think.
For me, confidence has come from being comfortable in my own skin and coming to terms both physically and mentally with stoma life.
Many thanks for reading
Louise uses our Platinum Vitamin E range to keep her stoma site healthy. To try a sample, click here