On a sunny day on June 28th, I wanted to spend some time in the sun and soak in that much needed Vitamin D. After putting on my new bathing suit top, paired with my small bikini bottoms and modified with my special bathing suit belt, I looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow, I can barely see my ostomy.”
It kind of shocked me.
So I decided to take this picture and post it on the Uncover Ostomy Facebook Page:
As you can tell from the myriad of comments, there was quite a discussion. Much of it was supportive, with others even posting pictures of their own awesome bathing suit choices, (seriously, go look!) Some others, however, chose to focus on the fact that my ostomy is not representative of the ostomy population.
It is very low.
Some people even went so far as to angrily message me on my personal profile and then block me.
I posted this picture for a reason.
I posted this picture because I wanted to show how I have adapted to my ostomy.
Did you know that I am only recently able to wear low cut bathing suits? Yes, what I look like now is not what I used to.
As a young teenager who just came out of ostomy surgery, I found myself with my bag quite close to my belly button and with an excess amount of weight due to years on steroids. Not only was I just getting used to having a bag on my body, but I was struggling with showing minimal skin in public as an overweight person.
Needless to say, I experimented with a lot of swimwear styles.
Tankinis were my first style-of-choice, as they not only easily hid my bag, but they also hid the excess weight I was concerned with. In fact, I was more concerned with hiding the weight than hiding my bag. (Priorities, right?) I found that there were so many different types of tankini styles out there, that I really didn’t have to worry about going to the beach.
Just by doing a bit of digging in the past day, I’ve found these gorgeous options below. (Go ahead, click – they lead to the purchase page!)
Eventually, as I began to meet other ostomates from around Canada and around the world, I found that a lot of ostomates chose to go for the one-piece swimsuit option. To be honest, I was really hesitant to try this style because they very clearly show off every curve of the body – again, more concerned with my weight than with the bag. Nevertheless, with the encouragement of others, I tried some one-pieces.
I found that if you picked the right cut, and with the right pattern (or all black), it was a good option. I actually own 2 one-piece bathing suits now!
(I literally just bought this one right now, while doing my research…so, make that 3.)
So after mastering the tankini, then moving on to the one-piece, I was finally ready to tackle the bikini. I had lost the steroid weight, and I felt that I was ready to try something new.
I tried everything from boy short bottoms to high-waisted bottoms. I tried different styles, different colours, different brands, and eventually found pieces that worked for me. I still wasn’t in “full bikini” mode, as my ostomy was still quite high, but they did the job, just right.
(I own a pair of the bottoms on the left, anddddd I just bought the bottoms on the right…. I stopped shopping after that, though, I swear!)
Now, my drawer overfloweth with the multitude of different bathing suit styles I own. Depending on the day and the situation, I choose what I think works best for me. Some days I feel confident and go for a super skimpy piece, while other times I opt to cover up.
One thing that actually really stuck out for me, after posting my picture to the Facebook page, was that people were calling me out for even trying to cover up my ostomy. To be honest, I was a little shocked that people were upset about it.
I want to make it clear that I have absolutely no qualms against anyone wearing their ostomy outside of their bathing suit (have you seen this girl?). Once in a while, I do flaunt my ostomy in a skimpy bikini, however, admittedly, only around people very close to me (like my boyfriend.)
The reason for this, and you’ve probably heard me say this before, is that after having my bag for so long, it has literally become just another part of my body. To me, my ostomy is my ass, and I choose to treat it as such. So, when I’m getting ready to go out in public wearing a bathing suit, I just think, “would I want someone to moon me on the beach?” Hellll No. So I wouldn’t do the same thing to them ;).
(Though, seeing some of those ostomy flaunting pictures posted in the FB post comments… You are slowly starting to change my mind… Nude beach, anyone?)
Anyway, here I am, almost 12 years later, and I find myself with 0 steroid weight and with a lower ostomy than I once had. My now healthy body had finally decided to grow my torso to its full length and the time has faded my small laproscopic scars into my skin.
But you’re right.
I’m not 100% representative of the ostomate population.
When posting this picture, I never considered this to be the case.
What I do consider myself to be is a representation of what experimentation, adaptation, and confidence can look like.
Not all bathing suits fit people the same way – ostomy or not. We all just have to find what works for us.
When you do, I hope you flaunt it with pride.
Have your own ostomy bathing suit pictures? Post them to the Facebook page and let us see what style you wear!