Body Image With An Ileostomy

Nathan Tattoos

Hey everyone! 

It’s Pride Month! A month where everyone can celebrate being who they are. 

Gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and everything in between. It’s a time for everyone to just be accepted and make it known that everyone can be different and still get along! For many years I always wondered why on earth we needed Pride. After educating myself, I realise it’s not to single out the people that are different, but more to make everyone feel included. That we are all human, no matter our walks of life and our preferences. It’s something that I find very powerful and hopefully one day, a Pride month won’t be needed, because everyone will be celebrated every day!

What I wanted to talk about in this blog post is body image. 

I have always had a low outlook on my body anyway. From a very young age, even to this day – I will find faults.

I have body dysmorphia and that is something I think I am going to have to deal with. I work actively in trying to make myself see myself as everyone does, but all I see is the fat kid that I was at school. Exercise definitely helps provide me with a clearer outlook, but I will never be ‘happy’ with my body. To top it all off, I now have an ileostomy, which when it comes to a low view of your body image, probably wasn’t the best thing that could have happened to me – however, it finally allowed me to accept who I am. 

For many years I never wanted to accept the person I am. I never wanted to be anything but ‘normal’ - whatever normal is! Having the ileostomy surgery and accepting that I now have this bag for life, really made me realise – I was not put on this earth to be ‘normal’. I have to embrace who and what I am. It’s one major plus of having my ileostomy surgery, I mean, I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone – but it certainly opened up my very closed teenage mind to grow into the 30-year-old adult that I am today. 

Body image is portrayed as a really big deal in same gender communities. 

I think being in this modern world, body image affects everyone to some extent. Having an ileostomy certainly doesn’t make that feeling any easier because it’s not every day that you see someone on the front of a glossy magazine with their stoma bag hanging out!  

I remember thinking back when I had my ileostomy done, that no one would ever date me with an ileostomy bag! Who on earth would want someone with a stoma? But I was wrong! I find that with an ileostomy, you certainly get to know someone a little more before you tell them about what you have had done. From my experience, it’s a gateway to see if the person you are getting to know really is decent or if they are a waste of time. Thankfully, people I have been with have never had an issue with my stoma, and nor should they! If someone does, they are just not the right person for you!

I strongly suggest if you are struggling with body image, that you unfollow all the people on social media that make you feel down about yourself. 

Use some for inspiration, that is absolutely fine, but don’t think you’re not worthy because your abs aren’t showing! That’s definitely something that has helped me over the years. Something else I strongly recommend is finding an ileostomy community and people that have stomas on your chosen social platforms. It is so uplifting to see people being confident in their skin with their stoma bags. Whether they are showing them or not, it’s so nice to see someone living their lives to the fullest with the same condition you have.   

You are not defined by the shape of your body, or what you have attached to it! 

Part of me getting all of my tattoos was a way of making me feel more confident in my own skin. It’s something that has worked for me, but just find something you love about yourself. Workout a few times a week, eat well and smile! Be you, be proud and be happy! No matter what your sexual orientation, you are beautiful exactly as you are!

Nathan x

by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma!  I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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