The last thing you think if when picturing a colostomy bag is the words “sexy model”. However, 23 year old Bethany Townsend is not afraid of the stigma attached with the necessary medical device. Instead, she has used it to her advantage to become a model, her dream since childhood.
Bethany was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was only three years old. Crohn’s disease causes an individual to have difficult digesting food due to inflammation in the digestive system. It also affects the ability to absorb nutrients from food and the ability to eliminate the resulting waste. Bethany’s situation with the disease was rather extreme and resulted in the removal of a damaged section of her intestine, re-routing her healthy portion of her intestine through a stoma, or colostomy bag.
For many, the colostomy bag would coerce feelings the exact opposite of sexy, but Bethany did not let that get to her. Instead, she accepted the assistance of a make-up artist from Worcester and posed in a sexy bikini online. The photo has been seen by more than 9 million people since being posted online.
Bethany had the following to say about the photo:
“I didn’t expect this kind of reaction at all. The photo has been seen by millions and it’s had 190,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook – it’s just gone ballistic. I’m just glad that it’s brought about more awareness of Crohn’s disease and it’s made me feel so much more confident about the colostomy bags. If I can inspire or help other people in my position feel a little more comfortable in their own skin then I’m really happy”
Bethany does admit that she was devastated when she was first fitted for the bag, but the reaction and support that she has received from the photo has been fantastically therapeutic.
Bethany tells about her experience with Crohn’s disease”
“I’ve had crohn’s disease since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later, I was having 16 inches of my bowel taken out.
Since then, I’ve been on steroids, infliximab, methotrexate, and every other drug going as well as being tube fed for 4 years. After five more operations my bowel burst 4 years ago and I ended up with two colostomy bags. They thought that would help until 4 weeks later and it was back.
I then went on to have a stem cell transplant which was in trial in the UK, we all hoped it would work but unfortunately I caught MRSA of the skin and the blood and it nearly killed me twice. Since then, my crohn’s has still been extremely active, I’ve lost more weight and now I’m waiting for the NHS to fund a drug that hasn’t really been in the UK. If this doesn’t work a bowel transplant is in the talks as I can’t have anymore of my intestine out as I haven’t got much left… BUT I’m still hopeful.
Finally after three and a half years, I decided that my colostomy bags shouldn’t control my life. So when I went to Mexico with my husband in December last year I finally showed I wasn’t ashamed. Still hoping for a cure…”
Photo Courtesy: Strong Mind Brave Heart