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Maintaining a Positive Body Image With Ostomy Scars

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It is finally November! With November being Crohn’s Disease Awareness Month, I know it holds a special place in the hearts of my fellow Chronies.

I am not going to make a list of facts about Crohn’s or anything of that nature. Instead, I am going to talk to you all about something that hits home with me:

Positive body image.

Three years ago, I had an ostomy placed as a last resort to try and get my Crohn’s symptoms under control, as I have had a malicious fight with Crohn’s disease with no relief in sight for nine years now. Due to excessive output from my ostomy, I had an early takedown, which resulted in an intestinal leak, which then led to sepsis, intubation and a hospital stay exceeding 40 days, resulting in a second ostomy.

After a period of struggling, I had my second ostomy taken down with a successful re-hook and got to go home. When I got home, I went into my room, stood in front of my full-length mirror and saw my stomach and all my scars. I took a deep breath and instead of having a meltdown, a smile came to my face. These scars didn’t represent the horrible things I had been through anymore. Instead, they represented how strong I was, how I had a drive for success, how I was a fighter, how I refused to ever settle or give up.

young woman standing in front of a lake and wearing an open flannel jacket with visible scars on her stomach

My platform “EveryBODY is Beautiful” was born. This platform simply encourages a positive body image because I know everyone has a few things they can point out that they don’t like about themselves when they look in the mirror.

This journey of loving myself has not been a walk in the park. Sure, I have come across times where I have been at a pool party, horrified to take my shirt off because I don’t want others to see my scars. But thankfully I have been blessed with amazing friends who will always go to bat for me if anyone has anything negative to say, and I also must remind myself that this is one of the most beautiful parts of my chronic illness journey and who I am.

Embrace your scars, always.

In closing, I would like to challenge my readers to stand in front of a mirror and point out at least 10 things you love about yourself, then pass the challenge on to someone you know. When you wake up loving every aspect of yourself, everything else seems a little brighter.

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Originally published: November 1, 2016
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