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International Women’s Day: Breaking the Scars & Stomas Stigma

Who runs the world? GIRLS. Happy International Woman’s Day my beautiful Queens. scars

I hope you all enjoyed International Women’s Day and gave yourself the love you deserve. I celebrated at one of my best friends weddings day. Yes, she got married on International Women’s Day and looked beautiful.

One of the biggest things I stand for in life is female empowerment and self-love. My reason for this is I feel social media can be a toxic place, and women, in particular, feel pressured to compare themselves to social media influencers and celebrities.  Most of these celebrities have insecurities; spending money on cosmetic work to make themselves feel a little bit better. One reason could be, at times they are being trolled by keyboard warriors around the world. As we know and in the recent light of Caroline Flack, trolling is unacceptable, and needs to stop.  We are all beautiful just the way we are. Don’t get me wrong, I am only human, even I sometimes scroll down the timeline and think, ‘oh I wish I had her body’ etc. This is not okay, it’s not healthy and we should accept the bodies we have been blessed with.

My modelling profession 

I have been modelling professionally since the age of 6 and for me I have always known how tough the modelling industry can be, very often, booked for work based on how you look.

So when I woke up with a stoma bag, my instant thought was that my career was over, no one would book me.  How wrong was I?

2018 was one of my favourite modelling years. I modelled for Adidas twice and became the face of the lotteries new biggest campaign ‘Set for Life’.  I remember always asking my agency to make sure that the casting directors knew I had a stoma before attending a shoot, because as sad as it is, sometimes the client want you to wear certain clothes etc. and a stoma bag doesn’t fit in with certain campaigns or brands.  It’s sad, but it is what it is.

I decided from then on I wanted to break that stigma, we are real people, I am sick to death of seeing massive clothing companies not using real people and always editing out scars and stretch marks. I can’t even tell you off the top of my head where I have seen anybody in a wheelchair modelling for big brands. For example, Victoria’s Secret, they claimed to have had their first plus-size model and there was a huge debate afterwards of people claiming she wasn’t even plus size. I have to agree. What brands like this fail to remember is we see the product and picture ourselves wearing it, we are more likely to buy it. Victoria’s Secret is excluding a large sector of women, by always promoting small women, women of a ‘bigger’ size instantly write off the brand and look elsewhere thinking ‘oh I couldn’t wear that’. 

My mission now is to break the stigma on body scars and stomas and that we have to be a certain size. I have suffered with skinny comments my whole life; I just want to put it out there, skinny-shaming is as bad as fat-shaming. It is not okay, we do not know what anybody is going through. Those of you reading this that have Crohn’s or Colitis know we are constantly going up and down in weight. I am sure you all have had comments made in your life just like I have. Remember the feeling, the hurt and frustration it made you feel, that is the feeling we need to change.

You may be aware, I launched my body confidence shoots which led to me winning the Alex Demain Awareness Award in 2019.  I hold these because I want to help young women who are in the stage I once was at – not accepting my body, hating the big scars down my stomach, thinking my life is over, who would ever want to hire me? As well as the mental abuse I endured over having a stoma and being made to feel ashamed for it.

Body confidence vs Body acceptance 

I want them to see the beauty I already can see in themselves. However, in order for me to even help a little bit, they have to already be on that journey of self-acceptance, even if it’s a tiny bit, this includes not getting the urge to abuse your body even if you hate it so much. Body confidence and body acceptance are very similar but different at the same time. Body Confidence, yes people can post their bodies all over the internet and social media but are they truly at peace with their body, or do they post to get approvals from others, so you feel just that little bit better for a split second?

Body acceptance is when you genuinely come to terms with the body changes and still treat your body with the utmost respect. Which one are you? If you choose Body Confidence then take a little time to learn to truly love your body without anybody else telling you how strong and brave you are because that’s a façade. You need to accept your body for what it is because body confidence and acceptance together is a very powerful gift to have. Only a few have it, and it comes after a lot of tears and emotions and THAT is okay! There is no race, it will happen for you but when you truly become at peace.

Accepting my scar

Remember healing takes time, battling with your own demons is always the hardest to face, but it’s the strongest battle to win. I took ages to accept myself; I even denied to friends about how bad I felt for a long time. I’m not going to lie I became jealous of those women with clear stomachs, those pretty Instagram girls.  I had to feel truly ready, to be honest, and when I stopped lying to others about it, that’s when the magic happened. I love my scar now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. This scar saved me, so, for me that’s my bestie. I wear crop tops to the gym, I wear bikinis to the beach, and I do not care.

I went to a massive pool party in Vegas and I rocked up in a bikini. I had a few stares and at one point my anxiety kicked in. When you can see people talking and staring at you, you automatically think they are saying the worst. I was so lucky to have my best friend who was so supportive of me, she sat me down and was like, ‘You know they could be staring and saying how brave you are, I would be’. That hit me hard, it’s true. Because when I see females embracing their body imperfections I say instantly there’s a Queen right there, I love how brave she is.

How I see, if somebody isn’t paying your bills it, do not care what they have to say. There is always going to be ignorant cruel people out there, but we can all work together to make sure the right kind people stick together and become the majority. We need to give it up for the women who go through stuff every day and still handle it like Queens. As women, we are expected to be and look a certain way and to hold a certain ‘beauty’ standard and conform to what ‘pretty’ actually is.  I THINK NOT.  It’s 2020, we make the rules out here.

Owning your imperfections

If you have scars or stoma bags or any sort of body imperfections OWN IT, if you want to not shave, then don’t shave. I can tell you now, I go cavewoman for ages and have no shame (such an effort).  If you want to wear a certain outfit, wear that outfit.  If you are gay, be gay. If you have transitioned into a woman then welcome to the team. If you are raising kids on your own, you go girl, you don’t need a man to help you. There is no right or wrong way to be and anybody whoever tells you otherwise needs to be left behind. Don’t let anybody ruin your peace.

We as women, especially in today’s society, need to spend more time building one another up and not tearing each other down. We need to protect our energies and our space. Be supportive of other women and their goals and achievements. Encourage your sisters. Remember your time won’t come if you don’t root for others who may be there before you,  – as I have said it is not a race – your self-love journey happens in your own time.

If you want to find out more about my body confidence workshops, and how else I am working to help break the stigma and raise awareness then follow @selfloveebynatalieamber on Instagram and like the Facebook page where you can find some self-help tips shortly.

Remember EVERYBODY IS BEAUTIFUL and as Caroline Flack said – ‘Be Kind’

Love

Natalie-Amber

Follow Natalie-Amber on Instagram

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