Monthly Archives: April 2011

Second Life, Body Image & Ilesotomies

Please bear with me for yet another random musing on body image. This time it’s about Second Life. For those of you who don’t know, Second Life is a virtual world where you can interact with others. You create an avatar and have control over what you look like, and yes, what you wear.

I’ve been ‘visiting’ Second Life for some time now. It’s a nice diversion and I have made some great friends there. However, you may notice that most SL fashion tends to be, well, shall we say hoochie mama chic. Baring your midriff  (as well as baring other anatomical parts) is the norm.

Here’s where it gets odd….. I have a hard time with my avatar showing off her midriff. Honest! Isn’t that ridiculous. I mean, it is not like I have to worry about her ostomy showing. And yet, I see her as an extension of myself and feel uncomfortable baring my midriff. There is some kind of psychological study in that, don’t you think? Probably the same reason I tend to dress her in winter clothes when it is winter in RL and summer clothes when it is summer in RL.

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Body Image, a rambling post

We live in a world where Victoria’s Secret models are celebrities, Kirstie Alley is called a pig for being overweight, and jeggings are a fashion trend It’s not always a nice place. So, take a young person who is still becoming comfortable with her body, promise her a j-pouch, discover in surgery that she has Crohn’s disease which cannot be treated with a j-pouch, tell her she has a permanent ileostomy when she wakes up, and then let the fun begin.

I know…I’m not very subtle, am I? Yes, I’m talking about myself. But I know there are others who share the story of learning to love their ostomy when they are young. For me, I was in my mid-twenties when I needed to have surgery. Even the doctors I consulted with before surgery acted like I would want a j-pouch over an ileostomy. I was convinced that having an external appliance was the worst possible outcome. But I learned the lesson that I have NO control over certain things, and woke up with an ileostomy. I’ve come to accept and embrace it. I certainly am much healthier because of it. I’ll never forget when I woke up from having my surgery, I said I actually felt better and my dad said with a smile “It’s amazing what removing a diseased organ can do.”

At any rate, in my teens and twenties, I was always very modest about my body. I would prefer to wear baggy t-shirts that didn’t show off my curves. If anything was slightly snug (which usually meant it fit), I would feel very self conscious. Were people looking at my chest? Is this too tight? I wouldn’t want to draw any attention to myself. Heaven forbid.

Then, to suddenly have an ileostomy in my mid-twenties, well….you can imagine what that does to one’s self image. I wish in the hospital instead of teaching me how to take care of the appliance, they also taught me how to take care of my self-image. I was repulsed with the appliance and felt like it was the end of the world. I would have welcomed any tips about what to wear, how to feel confident, anything. Of course, that would come later, but wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there was a program in place that would help me adjust.

It has taken a LONG time, but now in my thirties, I am comfortable with my body, comfortable showing off my curves, and aware of what works on me and what doesn’t. My ileostomy is part of me, and I’m thankful for it since it has helped me be healthy. I still resent looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalog, but not because the models are so gorgeous. No, I resent the fact that I can’t wear a bikini without my ileostomy being obvious. But mostly I resent the fact that I didn’t feel more comfortable with my body at an earlier age.

And the results are…..

So, my hosiery experiment was not exactly a success. Here are the results….

 

  • Hanes Silk Reflections Non-Control Top in Little Color. Ok…..umm…soo…the color was not ‘little’ enough. They had that horrible orange, suntan look. My husband, who never offers fashion advice unless it is an extreme situation, suggested that I swap them for a different pair. They were that bad.
  • Hue So Silky Sheer in Natural. The color was great, and these seemed sturdy enough to hold up to some decent wear. The only problem, and it was pretty significant, was that the crotch seemed  to fall unusually low. Even though the waistband was pretty high on my abdomen, the crotch was saggy. All day at work I felt like I needed to do odd contortions to make sure it did not fall down! Maybe I had a defective pair or something. I will have to give them another try. But, based on my saggy crotch experience, this brand isn’t for me.
  • Calvin Klein Chiffon Sheer – sheer to waist. Gorgeous color. Perfect fit, though the waistband felt a bit low but still was workable. The only problem was that in one day I managed to run two pairs of these! I mean, come on. Both times it happened when I gave the waistband a tug to try to pull it above my ileostomy. I wasn’t pulling it *that* hard. Honest. But these things seemed to run if you look at them the wrong way.

So, bottom line is that I’m still searching. Perfect pair of pantyhose, where-for-art-thou? In a pinch, I would go with the Calvin Klein’s, though I would be terrified of the plague of a million runs.