05 Mar Enjoying Life in Minimal Amounts of Clothing
It’s a common misconception that if you have an ostomy you are destined to live your life drowning in sweatpants.
Well, if you’re a little late to the Uncover Ostomy party, you may not have yet realized that I don’t live that life.
I live fashion.
In the 10 years since I’ve had surgery, I’ve spent copious amounts of time mastering the art of clothing and an ostomy. I refused to let a little ol’ bag stand in my way of looking good.
While I feel confident in my ability to dress fashionably with an ostomy, I’ve always had two female clothing categories that have kind of, well, challenged me: party dresses and bathing suits.
A number of years ago, when I joined my sorority, party dresses became a necessity that threw me for a loop. All the sexy, sophisticated, and unique dresses that I wanted to wear to the various semi-formal and formal events seemed to highlight, rather than camouflage my ostomy. Whether it be the material, the colour, or the amount of tightness, all the “statement” making dresses I came across didn’t seem to quite… well…work.
I’m totally proud of having an ostomy and all (obviously), but the statement that these dresses made weren’t exactly the statement I wanted to make.
Eventually, as some of you may recall, after months and months of spending too much money, I built a comprehensive wardrobe full of fashionably sexy dresses. They not only kept my ostomy neatly tucked away, but they looked pretty awesome too. Even now, a number of years later, I’m still rocking the little black dress. The tight little black dress.
Challenging as it may have been, finding party dresses paled in comparison to the challenges I faced trying to find bathing suits.
Bikinis suck for any girl, but they suck a million times more when you’re trying to cover a bag on your stomach with an insanely small amount of fabric. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed to be creative when it came to bathing suits.
I quickly discovered that boy-short bikini bottoms with a bikini worked, and that duo became my longstanding go-to bathing suit option for a number of years. There was enough fabric to cover my lower half and I could still wear a bikini top to get a decent tan. A few years later, when they came back in style, I started wearing high-waisted bikini bottoms, which worked quite well and made me feel almost normal in swimwear. My most exciting bathing suit revelation was last winter when I discovered that I could wear a pair of regular, skimpy bikini bottoms with a band of bathing suit material around my stomach.
Well, that was my most exciting bathing suit moment until this past month.
This past month, I went into a bathing suit store in search of a new bikini top to replace one that I had lost. I scoured the store looking for a replacement, but couldn’t seem to find anything I liked. I then came across a bikini that caught my eye. I pulled it off the rack and thought that I would try it on for fun just to see exactly how much bag it would show.
And as if sent down from the ostomy gods themselves, the bathing suit, somehow, miraculously fit.
Not one single modification necessary.
If you had asked me 10 years ago if I thought I’d ever be able to wear a tight dress or a regular bikini, I would have laughed in your face and told you that I knew I couldn’t. I would have said that it was an unfortunate circumstance, but that it was a small price to pay to be alive. I would have told you that it was a fate I was simply going to have to deal with.
Ha, yeah… I guess I don’t really “deal” with anything.
And neither should you.
I wrote this blog to start the conversation on clothing and the bag. It’s not an easy topic, and it can be fairly difficult for someone who doesn’t know where to start. I didn’t know where to start those 10 years ago, but with lots of time, research, and experimentation, I have been able to wear anything I’ve ever wanted to wear. This post is the place to start so that you too can wear whatever your heart desires.
So let’s get talking.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned about how to dress with a bag? What tips and tricks have you learned since you began your ostomy journey? What is your favourite article of clothing that you couldn’t live without? And what do you wish the doctors or nurses had told you about how to dress after surgery that they may have, well, uh, forgotten to mention?
Let’s help each other out.
Remember that time you thought you’d be stuck in “mom” jeans for the rest of your life?
Thank god it’s only a memory.
It must be noted: While what I have discovered works for me, it may not necessarily work for others. Whether it be larger or smaller, higher or lower, ostomies differ for everyone; as do the associated clothing options. So though the pictures above highlight how I am able to dress, it may not translate directly to you.
This post has been brought to you in part by shopping, in tandem with malls everywhere.